Chinese Curry Beef Buns (ga lei ngo yuk bao 咖喱牛肉包) were my 2nd fave thing from Chinese bakeries during my pre-vegan days. This veganized version contains all the flavour and texture but is much healthier and, of course, contains no animal products. I guess you could call them Curry Beefless Buns! Deciding to live a vegan lifestyle doesn’t mean you have to go without your favourite flavours and textures. With some thought, creativity and a little trial and error, any dish can be made plant-based. I hope you’ll give it a try! Click here for the printable recipe.
Video Tutorial for Vegan Curry “Beef” Buns
The dough recipe for these buns is very simple with just warm plant-based milk such as soy or almond, sugar, yeast, water and flour. If you’ve mastered basic breads like Simple Homemade French Bread or Fluffy Flax Hamburger Buns, this one will be a cinch! While your dough is proofing you can make the filling.
The filling I ended up with for this recipe was much more simple than I imagined when I first endeavored to veganize Curry Beef Buns. Most of the ingredients are the same as with the non-vegan version, but we use TVP in place of beef. TVP may sound super weird, and let’s be honest, it IS kind of weird. But weird good. TVP is short for Texturized Vegetable Protein. It’s made from dried, defatted soybeans and will soak up any flavour your add to it. For our purposes, we’ll use Marmite for a vegan-friendly meaty flavour. Do you avoid soy? If that’s the case, you can use cooked lentils instead. Click here for the full post on Curry Beefless Crumbles or find the printable recipe at the bottom of this post.
After forming the dough and creating the stuffed buns, I like to brush on a little vegan “egg wash” and sprinkle on sesame seeds. In the video, I tried using aquafaba for the first time. They certainly helped the sesame seeds stick on to the buns, better than using just melted vegan butter or plant milk. However, my usual wash of 1 part maple syrup and 1 part water resulted in a nicer golden brown color.
While the curry beef buns I used to have as a kid were normally deep-fried, I did enjoy the baked version better. Please let me know if you want to see a deep-fried version. I don’t often cook deep-fried things but I’m not opposed to that kind of indulgence every so often.
Printable Recipe for Vegan Curry Beefless Buns
- 1 batch Curry "Beef" Filling (choose TVP or lentil-based)
- 1 cup almond milk or your choice of plant milk, war (105°F-115°F)
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 2 1/4 teaspoons yeast (one envelope traditional or instant)
- 3 tablespoons aquafaba (chickpea/white bean brine)*
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (plus extra for kneading)
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon water
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the warm plant milk, yeast and brown sugar. Allow the mixture to rest for 10 minutes. The yeast will bloom, letting you know that it is active. If it does not, your yeast might be dead or the water too hot or too cold. Stir in the aquafaba and salt.
- Add a half cup of flour and whisk until completely combined. repeat 1-2 times or until the mixture is too doughy to whisk. Switch to chopsticks or spatula and add more flour in the same manner until the dough has formed enough to knead by hand. I used 3 1/2 cups of flour up to this point.
- Turn the dough on to a lightly floured surface and knead for 1 - 2 minutes. The dough should be fairly soft and slightly sticky. You may need to sprinkle on extra flour so that the dough doesn't stick too much but avoid adding too much flour. Too much flour will result in a stiff dough and non-fluffy buns.
- Place the dough back in the mixing bowl and let rest in a warm, draft-free location until doubled in size (about one hour). If you have not already prepared your filling, now is a good time!
- When the dough has doubled, scrape it from the bowl, back on to your floured surface and divide into 16 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball shape. Then, starting from the dough ball that you make first, flatten it into a disc-like shape. Do not make it too thin.
- Hold the dough in your palm and add 3-4 tablespoons of the filling to the middle. Pull up the dough from the sides and pinch at the middle to cover the filling up. Pinch and twist the puckered ends to secure and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet with the puckered side down. Repeat with all the dough balls and space out the buns on the baking sheet so they have room to rise.
- Cover the buns with a warm, damp towel and let rise until doubled in size. If the filling you used is warm, it will rise quickly. If is cold, it will rise more slowly. To speed up the process, place the buns in a warm location.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F or 205°C.
- Mix the maple syrup and water together. When the buns have doubled in size, carefully brush the maple wash on to the tops of the buns. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top if desired.
- Bake in a preheated oven for 20 minutes. The buns should come out nicely browned. Let cool before serving.
- *Aquafaba is just a fancy word for the water from a can of chickpeas or white beans. The protein and starches dissolved in the water make a fantastic egg replacer in many baked products. For these buns, it creates a unique texture. However, if you don't have any, simply replace the liquid with regular water. The buns will not have the exact desired texture but they will still taste nice.
Printable recipe for Curry Beefless Crumbles
- 1 cup hot water
- 1 teaspoon marmite (or dark miso paste)
- 3/4 cup TVP (texturized vegetable protein)
- 1/3 cup cold or room temperature water
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1/2 tablespoon hoisin sauce
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce (or tamari/liquid aminos)
- 1-2 teaspoons coconut oil (or your choice of cooking oil)
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3-4 shiitake mushrooms, rehydrated from dried
- 1 1/2 tablespoons madras curry powder
- 1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes (optional)
- 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon sea salt or to taste
- pinch of black pepper or to taste
- Dissolve the marmite in 1 cup hot water. Add the TVP and stir to combine and set aside to rest. Separately, combine water, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, and cornstarch. Stir until the cornstarch is dissolved and set aside.
- Heat oil in a pan over medium high heat. When hot, add the onions, garlic, and mushroom. Cook while stirring for about 3-4 minutes.
- Stir in the TVP mixture, curry powder, salt, chili flakes, and black pepper. Cook while stirring for about 2 minutes. If the mixture is very dry, add a tablespoon or two of water to prevent the spices from sticking and burning.
- Stir the cornstarch mixture once more before adding it to the pan. Mix well. The liquid will quickly thicken. When it does, turn off the heat and continue mixing for a minute. Taste and adjust for salt and pepper.
- Serve with rice, noodles, or make some Curry "Beef" Buns.
- For soy-free: use about 1 1/2 cups lentils instead of TVP and skip the water. Instead of soy sauce and hoisin, go for liquid aminos/tamari and ketchup
- For gluten-free: use choose tamari for soy sauce and choose either gluten-free hoisin sauce or ketchup in place of the hoisin sauce.