Try Making Egg Sandwiches With Fluffy Mantou Bread

A savory egg sandwich isn't just a popular way to start the morning in the U.S., cultural variations of this breakfast of champions can be found all across the world from New York to Taipei. As the capital city of Taiwan, Taipei is like other bustling urban areas across the world, and the locals have their own take on a quick and easy breakfast sandwich for those on the go in the early mornings. You won't find an egg sandwich in Taipei served on a bagel or yeast roll. Instead, it is served on mantou, a fluffy, lightly sweetened, steamed dough typically made from white wheat flour.

Mantou bread is an exciting substitution for an egg sandwich because of the juxtaposition the sweet mantou dough offers against the savory ingredients like eggs and cheese. The dough also doesn't feel as heavy to eat as a bagel, so you won't feel sluggish after breakfast. In Taipei, breakfast sandwiches typically consist of eggs, cheese, and the addition of Taiwanese staples such as scallions, soy sauce, and sweet mayonnaise. Other additions can include pork floss, ham, and vegetables such as cucumber. You can customize the sandwich however you please. Adding sweeter flavors like jams or maple syrup could complement the sweeter notes of the mantou. Also, consider adding different ingredients to vary the texture, such as crispy bacon or lettuce to counteract the pillowyness of the bread.

The history of mantou

Mantou is typically made as a bun and has become a typical breakfast staple in Taiwan and in many regions across China. Mantou bread is also commonly referred to as Chinese steamed buns, which often include fillings. The dough originated many centuries ago in eastern China during the Zhou Dynasty. According to Chinese legend, war strategist Zhuge Liang came to the Lu River and was told that to cross the rocky waves he needed to offer up 50 barbarian heads. Instead of sacrificing any human lives, he instead threw buns filled with meat into the river as a trick. This is supposedly why the buns were named "mantou" meaning "barbarian's head."

Today, mantou can be easily found during special occasions and festivals. During the Chinese New Year, dozens of mantou are made to be enjoyed with family and friends. modern mantou bread still follows the traditional recipe from centuries ago. You can find frozen mantou buns at your local Asian grocery or specialty market, which can be steamed at home. Or, you can attempt to make your own and have access to mantou whenever you please.