The first time I had a true American continental breakfast was at the Disneyland Hilton. The weekday breakfasts of my childhood were typically a rotating schedule of Cookie Crisps cereal, grocery store pastries, and frozen scallion pancakes reheated in the toaster. (This last one I remember with serious nostalgia.) Today, I’d attack a complimentary breakfast service with enthusiasm bordering on savagery, but at that point I was still a picky eight-year-old who regarded all unfamiliar foods with suspicion. How would I like my eggs? What?
I was mildly disgusted by scrambled eggs when they arrived, as their creamy texture appeared semi-raw and nothing like the firm golden strips in our home-cooked stir fries. Sausages were disappointing as well – more peppery than a hot dog, greasier and chewier than lap cheong. I stuck to toast and waffles and all things carbohydrate over the course of that trip, and returned home relieved to have safely navigated the unknown.
All picky children ultimately turn into hungry and less discerning adolescents; some even become self-proclaimed foodie adults. Now it’s funny to recall what I once considered too weird to eat, because in our Chinese American household the dinner table didn’t have a distinct nationality. I rejected cheese, ham, sea urchin, and fish eyeballs with equal revulsion.
I’m not sure when I grew to like the breakfast ingredients I once avoided but my first breakfast sandwich may have been the driver. It’s the classic case of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts: a toasted bagel providing textural contrast to velvety eggs and soaking up sausage grease, all precariously held together by melted cheese. Honestly, a sausage egg and cheese is just damn good, no need to say more.
This version of the classic breakfast sandwich pays homage to the hybrid-culture meals that fueled me growing up. Pillowy steamed mantou hug the ultimate chorizo cheddar scramble; the trick is to just undercook the eggs before filling the buns so they stay fluffy and soft. I topped the mantou with sesame seeds and crispy shallots to evoke the everything bagel, and in the future I’d love to take it to the next level with scallion, poppy seeds, and sea salt. Cheers to now having a palate that allows for these indulgences!
Chorizo Egg & Cheese Everything Mantou (makes 8)
- 1 cup milk heated to ~100-110 degrees F
- 2 tsp sugar
- 2 tsp yeast
- 2 cups flour, plus a few tbsp for dusting
- Neutral oil
- 4 eggs, beaten
- 1/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 2 chorizo sausage links, sliced
- Garnishes: sesame seeds (white and black), crispy shallots
Other garnishes could include scallions, crispy garlic, poppy seeds, sea salt
- Parchment paper and steamer
Proof the yeast: Combine sugar, yeast, and warm milk and let stand for 10 minutes or until foamy and fragrant.
Make the dough: Add the milk/yeast mixture to the flour and mix in the bowl until well combined. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead until the dough is tacky and pulls away from the board, around 10-15 minutes. Lightly oil a bowl and put the dough in the bowl for its rise, coating all sides in the oil. Cover and leave in a draft-free location for an hour or until the dough has doubled.
Make the filling: Meanwhile, make the filling. Saute the chorizo slices for a few minutes in a dry pan, and set aside. In a nonstick skillet, heat oil over low heat and add in beaten eggs, stirring frequently and vigorously to break up the curds. Crumble in the cheese and let it melt. Remove from heat when just undercooked (eggs will continue cooking when steamed, and continue to solidify a little as they cool) and stir in the chorizo. Cut parchment squares slightly larger than the palm of your hand for the buns to sit on as they steam.
Assemble the buns: Punch down the dough and knead for 5 minutes to press out all the air bubbles. Divide into eight sections. As you work with one piece, keep the remainder covered with a damp towel so they don't dry out. Roll each piece into a flat circle that is thicker in the center than on the edges, and fill with a few spoonfuls of the scramble. Pinch together the edges and smooth out by rolling the dough ball in your hands, then place the fully formed bun seam side down onto each parchment square. Place buns into steamer rack; don't crowd them as they will expand quite a bit while cooking.
Let the buns proof: Cover them and let them sit for ~30 minutes, or until a little poofy. Meanwhile, boil water. When the buns have fully proofed, sprinkle the tops with the everything toppings, using a little milk to adhere them if needed (this is not 100% necessary as mantou becomes a tiny bit sticky as it steams)
Steam the buns: They should take about 20 minutes over medium steam. When they are done, gently tip the steamer lid so that steam very gradually escapes; let them sit for 5-10 minutes. This will prevent the mantou from wrinkling.