Today, we’re writing something we should have written months, if not years, ago; it’s a dedication to the heavenly dim sum item called Liu Sha Bao (流沙包) also known by one of its English names: the molten lava egg custard bun. Or M.L.E.C.B.
Ok, don’t call it that. No one refers to the bun as “M.L.E.C.B.”, but we’re still early in this article and I’m not looking forward to typing that out five words every time I need to refer to its full name. Still, here I am, despite all that because the Liu Sha Bao is worth it.
What is a Liu Sha Bao (流沙包)?
The Liu Sha Bao (流沙包) is an sweet item sometimes found at dim sum restaurants. When found, you’ll find three Liu Sha Baos in the dim sum steamer baskets. Like its cousins, the Lai Wong Bao (奶黄包) and the Don Tot, it’s a dessert bun where the star ingredient is the egg custard. What makes the Liu Sha Bao different, and tastier in my opinion, is that the egg custard isn’t firm like it is with the Lai Wong or Don Tot, but the custard filling flows out like molten lava when bitten into.
I wouldn’t say that I’m an expert at dim sum, but I know my way around a push cart and would venture to say that I’ve sampled almost every well-known item that’s been pushed past my shared table. So it came as a surprise to me when two year ago, I was introduced to the Liu Sha Bao which roughly translates to “flowing filling buns” in Cantonese. In English, the dessert bao is known by many names:
- Molten Lava Custard Bun
- Egg Custard Steamed Bun
- Salted Egg Yolk Custard Steam Bun
- Steamed Egg Custard Bun
- Molten Lava Egg Custard Bun
- Flowing Egg Custard Bun
- Melted Egg Bun
- Steaming Hot Egg Custard Bun
We could go on, but you get the point.
As with most popular food items, there’s different versions of the molten lava egg custard bun depending on where you are. The outside of the bun is normally white, though we’ve seen a few versions of the Liu Sha Bao with a bun as yellow as the custard filling. We’ve seen varieties that use salted duck egg (especially the frozen kinds sold in Asian grocery stores), while some types use coconut or condensed milk.
We can’t imagine a bad version, honestly. For the longest time, my favorite sweet dim sum has been the egg custard tart, the Don Tot, but there’s a new egg custard dim sum in town, a hotter, meltier, tastier dim sum.