Healthy(ish) Steamed Buns and Chili Caramel

This is the perfect saturday night family cheat meal, or sunday arvo relaxed get together with friends! A few tweaks on traditional ingredients can make the dish a little more wholesome.

I love the flavours of thai cuisine, so these are not traditional, and have a thai flavour twist.

Thai style buns

Steamed Buns:

  • 7g packet yeast
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 4 1/2 cups spelt flour
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 2 tbsp coconut or olive oil
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1 tbsp sesame or coconut oil, for brushing


  • Combine yeast and warm water in a bowl. Add 1 cup of the flour, cover with a tea towel and let sit in a warm place for 1 hour.
  • Dissolve the sugar in the hot water and let cool.
  • Add the sugar mix and remaining flour to the yeast mix. Knead on a lightly floured surface until smooth, then place in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with the tea towel, place in a warm spot to rise for 1-2 hours- until doubled in size.
  • Divide mix into 12-15 balls. Flatten with hands or rolling pin into ovals, fold in half over a chop stick. Remove chopstick and place on a small piece of baking paper.
  • Let buns rise for another 10-15 minutes, then brush with sesame or coconut oil
  • Steam in a bamboo or metal steamer for 10 minutes, until cooked through. You may need to use a knife to slice¬†some of the buns open again.
Ready to steam

Chili Caramel:

  • 200g coconut sugar (palm sugar will also work if preferred)
  • 100 ml water
  • 2-3 red chillies, deseeded and chopped, or to taste
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves, shredded finely
  • 1tbsp fish sauce
  • Juice of 1 fresh lime


  • Boil sugar, chilli, kaffir leaves and water together to form a light caramel. It should coat the back of a spoon- be careful it is HOT!
  • Add remaining ingredients to taste. Sweet, salty and sour balance!

Serving suggestion:

  • Serve with marinaded chicken, prawns, fish, tofu or slow baked pork belly, and sliced cucumber, fresh mint and fresh coriander. Toasted coconut or shallot pickle is wonderful too!
  • to make an optional shallot pickle warm some coconut sugar and coconut vinegar on the stove. pour over thinly sliced chinese shallots, season and allow to stand for at least 1 hour.
  • You really can vary the flavours to your preference- if going for a Chinese flavour then leave out the fish sauce and kaffir from the chilli caramel, and serve with soy, chinese wine and garlic stir fried kale, spring onion and shitaki mushrooms
  • Jubo_steamed-buns
    Chinese Mushroom Buns
  • Coconut sugar will change the colour of the buns from pure white to a light tan colour. You could opt for rice malt syrup for a lighter colour or a fructose free variation.
  • Chopped roasted peanuts are a delicious addition to the chilli caramel!

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