Steamed Bun Dough
1. In a mixing bowl, combine yeast and water. Stir to dissolve yeast. Stir in milk, sugar, and shortening until sugar dissolves. Add 1/2 of the flour and mix well. Add remaining flour and mix, kneading until smooth and elastic, about 3 minutes.
2. Lightly oil or spray a mixing bowl. Place dough in bowl, cover with towel, and let rise in a warm place until double in bulk, about 1 hour.
1. Preheat oven to 230C/445F. On a baking sheet, lightly brush eggplants with oil, sprinkle with salt, and roast for 10 minutes or until soft. Remove from oven and allow to cool, slightly.
2. Peel skin from eggplants and discard. Dice flesh (this should yield 1 cup of eggplant). Add tomatoes, plum sauce, sesame oil, coriander, and pepper. Mix well. Set aside.
3. Divide dough into quarters and roll each into a cylinder about 2.5 cm / 1 inch diameter. Cut each cylinder into 8 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and place on a sheet tray.
4. Using a rolling pin, or by hand, flatten a ball of dough into an 8 cm / 3 inch (or so) circle, leaving it a little fatter in the center of the dough. Place one heaping teaspoon of filling onto the dough, then stretch and pleat (sort of pleat to one side as you move along the edges) the edges over the filling, giving it one final twist in the same direction you are pleating when you are finished.
5. Place seam side down on a parchment or waxed paper square. Place on a baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough. Cover with a towel and set in a warm place to rise for 20-30 minutes, until nearly doubled in size.
6. Bring ample water for steaming to a boil. Arrange the buns on their squares about 1-inch apart in the steamer (this could be bamboo or metal, i always use bamboo steamers). Steam for about 10 minutes, adjusting the heat so that the steam is always strong. If you are steaming multiple levels, rotate the tiers halfway through the steaming and add 2-3 minutes to the steaming time. Makes 32 buns