These Vegan Teddy Bear Mantou require less than 10 ingredients to make and are great for breakfast or as a snack. They are fluffy and do not require proofing time.
I wondered in my mind how bad the teacher would mispronounce my last name.
I was usually one of the few or only Asian in my class growing up even when I was in high school with over 4,000 students. Every morning whenever they called out the names for class attendance or during award ceremonies, I cringe whenever the teacher mispronounced my last name, not bothering to ask whether they pronounced it correctly. As it would, other kids would start making fun of me for it.
Of course, the little me just wants to have a different last name completely so that I could blend in with everyone else. There would be times when I would tell some of the students in the class that my last name was shortened because it is too long to avoid being made fun of. Over the years when I sought to blend in more and more, avoid eating any Chinese or Vietnamese food when I am out, avoiding speaking Cantonese or being in Asian groups at school, I began to lose some of my cultural roots with me. My Cantonese is so rusty I wonder how my mom can understand what I’m saying sometimes whenever I call her.
I wasn’t always proud of being Asian, but this past year and this year has taught me to embrace my cultural roots fully, to be proud of where my family came from and proud of my Chinese name. When combined, my name “Mei” and my sister’s “Lai” means “beautiful” in Chinese. Both my parents did not go to college and my mom did not finish elementary school because of the cost of attending school in Vietnam back then. Even so, they encouraged and supported my siblings and I to have a good education. They worked hard to blend in with us and never wanted us to feel left out. They never pushed us to only do or eat Asian food, but allowed us to explore different things and whatever we liked. They kept their cultural roots with them inside of them and within our home.
This month is Asian American and Pacific Islander month and never have I been more proud and comfortable being both Vietnamese and Chinese. There is still a lot I want to explore and learn in this journey of self-discovery but I am enjoying every part of it because it makes me me. Thank you for joining me along this journey and supporting me as I share more of this side of me with you.
Now to these Teddy Bear Mantou (Steamed Buns). I used the same recipe for my other steamed buns and used vegan food coloring for the eyes and ears. If you are ready to make these Teddy Bear Mantou, let’s start baking!