I’ve made these vegan Rou Jia Mo (Chinese hamburger) at least 3 times now. Each mo is filled with juicy filling and makes me crave for the next bite once I have the first one.
Rou Jia Mo is a type of bread often filled with braised meat and it is classic street food from Xi’ An. It’s also known as Chinese hamburger. I learned this dish from one of The Food Rangers’ Chinese Street Food Tour in Xi’an and other history channels. I immediately fell in love with the way the bread or mo is made. The size is small enough for finger food but large enough to hold a lot of fillings. The mo recipe is inspired by Magic Ingredients.
How to make Vegan Rou Jia Mo (Chinese Hamburger)
There will be 2 main parts to this recipe – make the mo and cook the filling, then assemble. While the steps may seem long but let me assure you that it’s really simple. With a little patience, you’ll be rewarded with a delicious meal that has a juicy filling – slurp!
Part 1: Make the Mo
Prepare the dough
The dough is simply made with ingredients you probably have in your pantry. When you combined the ingredients together, you may not get a soft dough right away, don’t worry. The yeast used here is to create little fluff so no sugar is needed.
First, place flour in a large bowl. Then, add the yeast, salt, and baking powder to different sections of the flour. Please do not add salt next to yeast. Mix the dry ingredients using a rolling pin (keep this as it will be handy later).
Then, make a hole in the middle and pour in the water and oil. Using the same rolling pin, stir wet and dry ingredients together until you get a shaggy dough.
Clean out the flour from the rolling pin and use your hand to knead until you get a cohesive ball. Cover the dough with a damp paper towel, then place a lid over the bowl. You can skip the paper towel if you have humid weather. Rest for 10 minutes.
Now that the dough has well-rested, you can easily knead it again until a smooth top forms, about 3-5 minutes. Cover the dough again with the same paper towel and place a lid over it. Proof for 45-60 minutes until 1.5X its original size.
Assemble the dough
Check if the dough is ready – Poke a hole in the dough with your finger (you may dip your finger in dry flour first). If the hole stays in, then it’s ready. If not, let it rest for another 10 minutes or so.
Transfer proofed dough to a work surface and knead to remove large air bubbles. Then, divide into 5 equal portions.
To assemble the dough, roll each piece into a long oval shape rope. Mine came out to about 14-inches long. Then, take one end and start rolling it up into a cylinder. Tuck the hanging piece of dough underneath one end to secure it. Cover and let it rest for 10 minutes.
When ready, flatten each one into a 4-inch circular disc.
Cook the mo
You don’t need any oil to cook the dough and I chose an iron skillet for that even golden brown when cooked. Heat up a large cast-iron skillet (or non-stick skillet). Place as many mo as the pan comfortably fits with a slight gap.
Cook over low heat until golden brown before flipping. Repeat the flip a few times until you get a slightly puffed-up and fully cooked through mo. Each side took me about 3-4 minutes to get the char that I like.
To check the doneness, gently poke the side of the mo with your finger. If it bounces back, then they are ready.
Part 2: Cook the filling
Traditionally, the filling takes hours to make which includes braising the meat. This, however, takes a max of 30 minutes to put together while maintaining the same juiciness and flavor. You can choose to cook the filling first, then mo if you prefer warmer bread. I did both around the same time with two stoves.
First, heat a large non-stick pan with about a tablespoon of oil. Then, sauté ginger slices over medium heat until the edge starts to crisp up or aromatic. Add the sugar and stir to dissolve. Continue to stir until it turns to amber.
Now, add the vegan strips (I’m using OmniPork) and stir-fry until you get a crispy coat on the strips.
Then, simply add the remaining ingredients: dried chili, 5-spice powder, soy sauce, dark soy sauce, and water. Bring it to a boil, then lower the heat to simmer until the sauce has reduced to almost half. Decrease the cooking time if you prefer more sauce. Remove the chili and ginger.
Part 3: Assemble Vegan Rou Jia Mo
One last step before you enjoy these mo – assembling! Place a few spoonfuls of filling on a chopping board. Top with chopped scallions and a spoon of sauce.
Using a knife, roughly chop to combine the ingredients together.
Next, using a serrated knife, cut a mo (but don’t cut it through) and brush one side with chili oil of your choice. Fill the opening with as much filling as your heart desires. Serve warm.
Vegan Rou Jia Mo Cooking Tips
- Dough –
- The dough is made from flour, yeast, salt, baking powder with just enough water and oil to hold all the ingredients together. So, slowly add the water if you are unsure about your flour absorption rate. Baking powder is optional if you prefer a denser dough.
- Note: if at any point that you find that the dough is not stretchy, let it rest a little longer. For example, once you roll it into a cylinder, you may not able to flatten it easily. Let the dough rest, covered and try again.
- Caramelizing the sugar – the crucial step is to cook the sugar until it turns amber before adding the filling. This caramelizing step is to give the ‘meat’ that sweetness with a touch of smokiness, similar method to making Hong Shao (braise).
- Filling – Other alternatives included mashed tofu, or other vegan meat products
Other Delicious recipes to try
This Vegan Rou Jia Mo (Chinese Hamburger) is
- Easily customizable – use other filling ingredients or substitute with cilantro for an alium-free version
- Perfect finger food for parties or family gatherings
- TASTY and YUM!
If you try this recipe, I would love to hear your feedback and see your beautiful re-creation. Leave me a comment, rate it, and tag @woon.heng and #woonheng to your photos on Instagram or Facebook. Happy cooking, friends!
Vegan Rou Jia Mo (Chinese Hamburger)
- 300 g all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon yeast
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- ~⅔ cup warm water
- 2 teaspoons oil
Prepare the dough
- Combine the mo ingredients in a large mixing bowl and knead (with hand or mixer) into a somewhat stiff dough. Note: always keep the salt away from the yeast.
- Cover the dough with a damp paper towel and place a lid over, rest for 10 minutes. Then, knead into a smooth dough and rest for 45-60 minutes, covered.
Mold the mo
- To check the dough, poke a hole with your finger, if it doesn’t bounce back, then, it’s ready. Knead again to remove large air bubbles and divide it into 5 equal portions.
- Flatten the dough into a long rope, about 14-inch. Roll into a cylinder and tuck the end underneath one of the ends. Flatten it, then cover and rest for 10 minutes. When ready, roll each into a 4-inch disc.
Cook the mo
- In a heated large iron skillet, place as many mo as the pan comfortably fits, with a gap. Cook the mo over low heat (no oil) until golden brown before flipping. I cook each side for 3-4 minutes flipping occasionally, if needed.
Cook the filling
- Heat a large non-stick skillet with a tablespoon of oil. Sauté ginger slices until the edges start to crisp up and aromatic, add the sugar. Continue to cook until the sugar turns amber.
- Carefully, add the vegan pork strips into the pan and quickly stir-fry for 1-2 minutes. (hot sugar may burn easily)
- Add the dried chili, 5-spice powder, sauces, and water. Bring it to a boil, then lower the heat to simmer. Turn off the heat as soon as it thickens to your desired texture. If you like more sauce, then reduce the cooking time.
- Remove the dried chilis and ginger.
How to serve the mo
- Place a few spoonfuls of strips on a chopping board and top with scallions and more sauce. Using a knife, roughly chop to combine. Slice a mo ¾ through and brush one side with chili oil. Scoop as much filling into it as you like. Serve immediately.
- Flour measurement – I highly recommend weighing the flour and water on a kitchen scale. 300g flour using cup measurement is about 2 1/2 with the spoon and level method and it’s 2 cups in a pyrex cup.
- Water is about 150g. My flour has a protein content of ~12%. If your flour has lower protein content, then, you’ll need less water to create a cohesive ball.