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Utangza: Uighur Steamed Cilantro Bun Recipe

Ryan Thomas is a university graduate who enjoys cooking recipes from a wide variety of culinary traditions.

Light, airy, and delicious, these steamed cilantro buns are sure to be a big hit for any bread or pastry lover.

Light, airy, and delicious, these steamed cilantro buns are sure to be a big hit for any bread or pastry lover.

What Is Utangza?

Utangza is a steamed bun stuffed with cilantro that comes from the Uighur cuisine. Utangza also happens to be one of the most delicious breads I have ever encountered.

Made from a rich buttery dough, these buns are filled with fresh cilantro and then steamed to produce a soft, warm, and perfectly balanced combination of moistness and gloriously done bread.

Note that this recipe does take some time to prepare. It takes a while for the dough rise, it is hard to pick the large number of cilantro leaves required, and rolling out the dough and filling it is a work of skill, and then finally at the end it has to be cookedprobably in multiple batches given the quantity.

But the proof is in the results: Whenever I've made these, they have been swooped upon and consumed eagerly. We are a small family of three, and yet 16 buns were eaten in just one sitting! If you have the time, patience, and energy for them, there are few better treats.

This recipe is adapted from Please to the Table, The Russian Cookbook, by Anya von Bremzen, a book that I always heartily recommend.

Ingredients

  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup lukewarm water
  • 1/2 cup room temperature milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups compacted cilantro

Instructions

  1. Combine the lukewarm water, sugar, and yeast in a large bowl, and leave to sit for 5 minutes until it turns foamy.
  2. Add 4 tablespoons of melted butter, milk, and salt. Stir to combine with a wooden spoon. Add 3 cups flour, 1 cup at a time, again mixing together thoroughly.
  3. Knead the dough vigorously on a floured surface, using additional flour as required, for 8 minutes, until it is a thoroughly elastic and non-sticky dough.
  4. Shape the dough into a ball, and place it into a buttered bowl, turning to coat. Cover with a linen or cotton kitchen towel and leave in a warm, draft-free place until it has doubled in size for 1 1/2 hours, such as in sunlight or in the oven with the light on.
  5. Punch the dough down and knead, and then separate out into 16 smaller balls.
  6. On a floured surface, roll out each ball to be 1/16 inch thick with a floured rolling pin. Brush each with melted butter and sprinkle with cilantro, then fold in the edges so that they meet in the center and shape into a smooth bun with the rolling of your hands.
  7. Butter them with melted butter once more, allow the buns to rise on a baking sheet for 20 minutes.
  8. Bring water to a simmer in a metal or bamboo steamer, then fit in as many buns as will fit without crowding, and cook for 15 minutes until they are cooked through. Do multiple batches if need be.

Step-by-Step Photo Guide

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© 2018 Ryan Thomas