National Bao Day Date in the current year: August 22, 2024

National Bao Day August 22 is the perfect day to indulge in Chinese takeout or go out to your favorite Chinese restaurant because it is National Bao Day. It was created to celebrate one of the most iconic dishes of Chinese cuisine.

Baozi, often shortened to simply bao, is a steamed filled bun made of yeast-leavened dough. Bao are found in various regional Chinese cuisines. They have developed from mantou, a type of steamed bun popular in Northern China. The main difference between mantou and baozi is that the former is unfilled and the latter has a sweet or savory filling inside. Back in the day, the term mantou referred to both kinds of buns; the first use of the term baozi was recorded during the Song dynasty (960–1279).

There are two main types of bao depending on their size: dabao (“big buns”) is about 4 inches in diameter and xiaobao (“small buns”) is about 2 inches in diameter. Both types can have various savory or sweet fillings; they are usually served in a steamer and accompanied by condiments (soy sauce or vinegar, garlic or chili paste, sesame oil, pickles, fresh leeks and coriander). Popular bao fillings include different types of meat, shrimp, salted egg, vegetables, bamboo shoots, pickles, black sesame paste, lotus seed paste, red bean paste, custard, and others.

These buns are one of the most popular Chinese dishes outside China. They have been adopted into various Asian cuisines (Mongolian, Malaysian, Indonesian, Philippine, Thai, Japanese, Korean, Cambodian, Vietnamese, Burmese) and are a staple in Chinese restaurants across the world, as well as a popular street food in many countries.

If you’ve never tried bao before, you should know that there are many different kinds of these steamed buns for you to choose from. For example, char siu bao are filled with Cantonese barbecued pork. Xiaolongbao are small bao filled with minced pork or other meats. They are sometimes referred to as dumplings, although they are different from “true” Chinese dumplings such as jaozi or wonton. Tangbao are large baozi filled with rich soup.

Although bao are usually steamed, they can be fried as well. For example, shengjian bao, also known as shengjian mantou, are small, pan-fried bao filled with pork and gelatin. They are a ubiquitous breakfast food in Shanghai.

National Bao Day is one of those food days that have been created by various businesses. It was launched in 2017 by Wow Bao, a Chicago-based chain of fast-casual Asian restaurants that operates several hundred locations in the United States and Canada. The date of the holiday, August 22, was chosen to commemorate the opening anniversary of the first Wow Bao restaurant in Chicago’s historic Water Tower Place.

How to observe National Bao Day? You can visit your favorite Chinese restaurant, try making your own baozi at home, or order takeout if you don’t feel like cooking or going out. Try baos with different fillings to figure out which one is your favorite and don’t forget to spread the world about the holiday on social media using the hashtag #NationalBaoDay.

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National Bao Day, food days, observances in the United States, steamed buns, Chinese cuisine