Salted Egg Yolk Buns at the Chinatown Restaurant in Halifax
When I ordered this Dim Sum item at the Chinatown Restaurant in Halifax, I was rather expecting something different. The description made me think it would be a savory item but surprised me by being quite sweet. They were clearly well made, and very interesting, but I really didn’t enjoy them all that much.
The menu at Chinatown called these ‘Steamed Salty Egg Yolk Cream Bun’, which is a bit of a mouthful (as were the buns, come to that). In Chinese characters, they appeared as ????? (huángj?n liúsh? b?o), which is a more poetic, but less descriptive name, and one that was somewhat linguistically confusing.
The first two characters of the Chinese name mean ‘golden’, while the last means ‘bun’. The middle two characters, however, are a little odd. They actually translate as ‘quicksand’, but I also see many recipes and web-page entries call the ‘Lava’ buns, which, if not a direct translation, certainly is more apt when you look at the bright yellow, gooey center of the bun as shown above.
The buns themselves were steamed bread dough, and I think they must have been brushed with a little egg yolk before steaming as they had a tan appearance rather suggesting baking. They were about three inches across, more or less, and were steamed in little paper cups like muffins. It actually took a little effort to peel them out of these as they stuck to the paper quite stubbornly.
In any event, the dough was itself very sweet, as was the steaming hot paste at the center. It was the sweetness that surprised me because my experience with Chinese Salted Eggs has been exclusively in savory dishes. Probably, I ought to have taken the cue from the fact that these were described as ‘Cream Buns’.
As it happens, the center filling is made by mashing Salted Duck Egg yolks with Icing Sugar and other ingredients like Butter and Custard Powder. I was surprised, looking at recipes for these buns, that other version seem to be very generously filled with the ‘Custard’. The ones at Chinatown, as you can see, actually contained only a little bit of the Salted Egg Yolk ‘Lava’, but, personally, this was not a problem for me.
All in all, while I have no doubt that the Salted Egg Yolk Buns at Chinatown were properly made (if a little sparing with the filing), I found them a little sweet for my taste. This may have been partly due to my having expected something savory, but, in truth, I tend to stick to the less-sweet dishes when I go for Dim Sum. I am certainly glad I tried them, but I probably won’t bother again.