It was in the coastal province of Zhejiang in China that these pan-fried buns with snow vegetables appealed to my taste pallet. The Chinese name for snow vegetables is xue cai and are made up of pickled potherb mustard greens. I would assume the mustard greens sprout as one of the first greens from the still snow covered soil in spring. But it is difficult to get confirmation of this. The pickled potherb mustard greens are nowhere so tasty as in Zhejiang.

This dish is using purchased pickled mustard greens, but also a recipe to make your own is added in the remarks.

The art of making pan-fried buns with snow vegetables

In essence, the making of these buns has similarities with making baozi. Baozi are steamed and have some yeast and baking powder. But the dough for these buns do not have additives other than salt and are pan-fried. The salt in the high gluten dough causes the gluten to be developed faster during kneading.  But wash the mustard green pickles that form a major part of the filling of these buns first to reduce the salt from the pickling liquid. Then spin dry, cut and stir-fry before making the buns. The beef that is optional for use is rather lean and partially seasoned, but not cooked before pan-frying.


Special equipment

  • dough pin
  • centrifuge for drying the vegetables
    pan-fried buns with snow vegetables : ©️ Nel Brouwer-van den Bergh

    Pan-dried buns filled with snow vegetables

    Prep Time 2 hours
    Cook Time 20 minutes
    Total Time 2 hours 20 minutes
    Course Lunch, Side Dish
    Cuisine Chinese
    Servings 8


    Ingredients to make the dough

    • 17.6 oz (500 g) white wheat flour (high gluten)
    • 8.9 oz (250 ml) warm water plus some extra when needed (temperature at 40 C)
    • 0.18 oz (5 g) salt

    Ingredients to make the filling

    • 7.1 oz (200 g) lean beef optional
    • 30 oz (850 g) pickled mustard greens
    • 10.6 oz (300 g) tofu
    • 13.2 oz (375 g) white cabbage
    • 3.5 oz (100 g) ginger 80 g for the dish, 20 g for the (optional) beef
    • 2 tbsp soy sauce
    • 1 tsp tbsp old soy sauce for seasoning the beef, when used
    • 1/2 tsp starch for mixing with the beef, when used
    • 1.5 oz (40 g) lard optional, can be replaced by olive oil or other vegetable oil
    • 3 tbsp olive oil optional, can be replaced by lard which is more traditional
    • 1 tbsp rice wine Shaoxingjiu or local rice wine
    • 1.8 oz (50 g) garlic
    • 3 Asian small red peppers (de-seeded for less spicy)
    • 0.5 tsp sugar for seasoning the beef, when used

    Ingredients to pan-fry the buns

    • 6 tbsp vegetable oil


    Instruction to make the dough

    • Weigh the flour, add the salt and mix
    • Add the water and mix first with chopsticks or a fork, later with your hand. Knead it so that no excess flour is left. If need be add one or a few tsp of water
    • Leave the dough as a ball covered for at the least 2 h at room temperature or around 30 C
    • After 2 h, start kneading and stretching the dough on the kitchen counter, dusted with flour. let the dough rest for a few minutes when it has the tendency to break. Roll in a cylinder. Use around 50 g of the dough for each bun (less for smaller buns)

    Instruction to make the filling

    • Wash the pickled mustard greens by immersing them in a large bowl of cold water
    • After a few minutes and occasional stirring, drain the vegetables in a strainer
    • Dry spin the vegetables in a centrifuge
    • Cut or chop the spin dried potherb mustard greens fine on a cutting board
    • Chop up the white cabbage
    • Slice the tofu in 2-3 mm pieces
    • Peel and mince the garlic and the ginger. If using beef, leave some of the ginger for seasoning the beef
    • Cut the peppers fine and de-seed first, if you desire a less spicy filling
    • Heat the lard or vegetable oil in a wok
    • On high heat, add the peppers followed by the minced ginger and garlic
    • After 1-2 minutes of frying and stirring, add the snow vegetables first and stir-fry for several minutes.
    • Then add the white cabbage and continue to stir-fry and finish with adding the tofu
    • Add the rice wine and stir
    • Switch off the fire and taste the mixture. In some cases the mixture will be just fine as the slightly smoky taste of the snow vegetables and the slightly salty taste will be just perfect. If you washed the vegetables very thoroughly, you may need to add one or two tbsp of light soy sauce to the mixture and mix
    • Let the vegetable mixture cool down
    • When also using beef, cut the beef very thinly
    • Add some minced ginger , some starch, soy sauce and the sugar

    Instruction to make the filled buns closed

    • For making each bun, roll with your dough pin 50 g of dough in a round, in the middle a bit thicker, at the sides a bit thinner. You can do 4 at a time
    • Then place 2 full table spoons (2 tbsp with each a heap) of the vegetable mixture on each round of dough
    • When using beef, cover with thinly sliced and seasoned beef
    • Then with your index fingers and your thumbs (both hands) start to fold the dough on the edge as a harmonica and turn the bun while you go. End to close the bun with a few turns clockwise and then a few turns anti-clockwise. Ensure the upside is flat with a harmonica texture
      buns with snow vegetables : ©️ Nel Brouwer-van den Bergh
    • Make all the buns like this.

    Instructions to pan-fry the buns

    • Heat 3 tbsp of vegetable oil in a large skillet
    • Carefully add the buns, first upside down and on medium heat. Consider to add some water and use a cover to help cook the meat through if used. Ensure to protect from splattering and take the cover off after most of the water is evaporated. Turn the buns and fry at medium heat until the bottom is golden brown too
    • Take the buns out of the skillet and drain excess oil on a kitchen towel
    • Serve while still hot. Leftover buns can be stored and reheated on low fire, if needed.
      pan-fried buns with snow vegetables : ©️ Nel Brouwer-van den Bergh


    Method: pan-frying and stir-frying
    Food allergy & intolerance information: gluten, soy
    Keyword mustard greens, pan-fried buns, pickled potherb mustard greens, snow vegetables,, xue cai


  1. For the vegetarian version, leave out the beef.
  2. Use soy sauce or a mixture of soy sauce and rice vinegar as a dipping sauce.
  3. To make the pickled mustard greens yourself, first the leaves need to be wilted (possibly traditionally they are hung for some time over a wood fire as they may have a smoky taste as well) so that some moist is lost and then they are packed in layers with 2% salt. They should be ready in a week to 10 days.


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