Although sometimes I like a bao filling which takes a bit more time to prep, these asparagus bao are super fast to make. I keep frozen unfilled bao on hand which only take 5 minutes to heat up so this is a good one for weeknights if you do the same.
Since asparagus is in season at the moment I’ve been going absolutely crazy for it. It’s probably one of my favourite vegetables – so delicious and SO quick to cook. I made these for lunch a couple of weeks ago for a friend who came to visit and we sat on the sunny balcony eating them.
They were so quick to make (plus I had so many buns) that I ended up having them again for dinner too that week! I think the grilled vegetable vibe is definitely going to be big for me this year, especially when I can chuck them into a bao and have dinner all done and dusted.
You can get frozen bao from Chinese supermarkets or, if you want to make them yourself, see my post for an in-depth recipe with some helpful shaping GIFs.
- 250 g (9 ounces) asparagus
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons black bean sauce
- 1 tablespoon miso or doenjang
- 1 tablespoon sweet chilli sauce (or 1 tbsp maple syrup + 1 tsp hot sauce)
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons tomato ketchup
- 2 teaspoons Mushroom ketchup or vegan Worcester sauce
- 8 bao buns , shop bought or homemade
- 1 carrot , peeled into ribbons
- kimchi (vegan, if needed)
- coriander (cilantro)
- toasted sesame seeds
Cook the asparagus:
- Peel the tough ends of the asparagus and trim off the very base. If you have quite thick asparagus spears, cut them in half down their length. Place in a roasting dish, drizzle with the oil and toss to coat.
- Mix the black bean sauce, miso/doenjang, chilli sauce, rice vinegar, tomato ketchup and mushroom ketchup in a small bowl until smooth.
- Heat a grill pan on the highest heat on the stove (or you can use a barbecue). Place the asparagus spears into the pan and grill, until blackened on one side. Flip and grill the other side.
- Once that side is blackened, brush the asparagus spears with some of the glaze and turn so you can coat the other side too. Grill for 1 minutes then remove from the pan.
- Repeat with any remaining asparagus.
Warm the bao:
- Place the bao into a steamer. Fill a wide saucepan with a ~1 inch depth of water and bring to the boil over a medium heat. Turn the heat down to low then place the steamer into the pan.
- Steam for 5-6 minutes if they were frozen, or 2-3 minutes if they're fresh.
- Fill the warm bao with the asparagus, some kimchi and carrot ribbons. Eat immediately.
- I love the vegan kimchi made by The Cultured Collective in the UK
- Black bean sauce is also known as black bean garlic sauce. You can get it from supermarkets in the 'world food' aisle or from Chinese grocers.
- If you're not veggie/vegan you can use Oyster sauce instead of the black bean sauce and standard Worcestershire sauce instead of the mushroom ketchup.
- Mushroom ketchup is a common veggie alternative to Worcestershire sauce, found in most large supermarkets.
- If you don't have a grill pan/BBQ, a cast iron pan will also work. You can also just roast the asparagus on a baking tray in the oven at 180C (350F) for 10 minutes with the oil, then brush with the glaze and roast for 5 minutes more.