Authentic Chinese bread (mantou): origin and where to buy it

Authentic Chinese bread (mantou): origin and where to buy it

Welcome to our Blog for another week! This week we wanted to talk about a very, very basic food for the inhabitants of China. We are talking about authentic Chinese bread, have you ever tried it? And if you are one of those who like Asian cuisine, we recommend you not to miss the opportunity to learn how to cook authentic Chinese Bread, later on we will show you some recipes so you can try it at home.

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Origin and legend

Legend has it that these breads (or buns) originated during the Three Kingdoms period (220-280AD), when the strategist Zhuge Liang came to the Lushui River, which could not be crossed unless the heads of captured barbarians were offered as an offering. But instead, Zhuge Liang threw heads made of dough and stuffed with meat. These Chinese steamed buns can be stuffed (baozi) or not (mantou).

Mantou’ is a staple food in northern China, as wheat is grown there, unlike in the south, where rice predominates, but these buns are now served all over the country. They differ in size and texture from one area to another; in the north they are larger and firmer, while in the south they are smaller, softer and sweeter. Not only China prepares steamed buns, but other Asian countries such as Japan, Vietnam or Thailand, among many others, also prepare them.


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What is mantou (Chinese bun)?

It is a Chinese steamed bun without filling, called mantou. The authentic Chinese bun, also known as mantou, can be eaten in different ways; simply steamed, fried or grilled so that it is toasted on the outside but tender on the inside.

Mantou often accompanies other Chinese food dishes, just like regular bread. It is also traditional to eat ‘Mantou’ as a dessert, usually a sweeter, fried version, for example with condensed milk.

In the north of China they are used to accompany meals, but in the south, they are eaten as breakfast, dessert or snack, which is why they are usually sweeter than in the north. They can be bought on the street in street bakeries, supermarkets or dim sum (a variety of small dishes) restaurants. In some areas of rural China there is still a tradition of preparing them for Chinese New Year and placing them on the family altar.


Ingredients and preparation

It is basically made with flour, water and yeast, but now there are many varieties such as wholemeal mantou, milk mantou, sweet potato mantou, pumpkin mantou, prawn mantou and now there are even several recipes for vegans.

It contains cereals that contain gluten and milk and its derivatives (including lactose). As this bread is not baked or cooked in oil, it is low in calories. However, it must be taken into account that the final caloric result of the dish will depend on the ingredients used to prepare it.

What do you think? Don’t hesitate to show us the results of your recipes through our social networks  @Oriental_Market.