Build Your Reuben Sandwich In A Bao Bun For A Textural Twist

If you know and love deli-style Reuben sandwiches, you may roll your eyes at the idea of changing it in any way. But for a textural twist on the classic, try swapping out the bread for a bao bun — at least once. The beloved deli staple is traditionally made on grilled rye bread, and layered generously with tender corned beef or pastrami, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and creamy Russian dressing. When you build your Reuben on a bao bun, the same flavor symphony shines through — though, this time on a pillowy cloud of dough.

The soft puffiness of bao seamlessly complements substantial cuts of meat like corned beef or pastrami. You might already know this if you've tried bao dim sum with toppings like pork and roasted duck. In much the same way, the bun makes for a lighter pocket to hold the relatively heavy (yet delicious) Reuben toppings. When the pastrami and all the fixings are added, the resulting bite is both delicate and complex, compared to the straightforwardly hearty nature of the standard rye sandwich.

How to assemble your Reuben on bao

To make a Reuben bao bun sandwich, you can opt to craft your own yeasty dough or simply buy the premade stuff at your local Asian grocery store or online. Either way, simply prepare the buns by heating them in a bamboo steamer basket for about 10 minutes, or until they're warmed through and springy to the touch. You can also sear your steamed bao for a true texture revolution

At the same time, transfer pre-cooked or leftover pastrami to a skillet, then top the meat with Swiss cheese and heat through until it's nice and melted. When the buns are ready, fill them with a healthy helping of meat, cheese, and sauerkraut. Drizzle your re-imagined Reuben with easy homemade Russian dressing (simply whisk together mayo, ketchup, a touch of citrus, and garlic). Garnish it all with chopped pickles to replicate the true deli experience. Then, be sure to dig in while the bao buns are still warm, soft, and seriously dreamy.

Get creative with your meat and toppings

While you're already switching up the tried-and-true Reuben sandwich construction, you can also have some fun when it comes to the toppings. Take inspiration from your favorite bao bun menu items to do so. For instance, swap the sauerkraut for kimchi; they're both fermented cabbage, but the kimchi will bring more umami and less of an acidic bite to the sandwich. Or, mix in some chili garlic sauce or citrusy ponzu into your Russian dressing to expand on the Asian-fusion element. For extra spicy heat, top the bun with pickled jalapeño or chili flakes.

Since the Reuben can be a heavy sandwich, lighten it up further with the bao bun version by adding in some fresh julienned veggies or herbs to garnish. If you want to get seriously inventive, swap out the pastrami or corned beef for Chinese-spiced barbecue pork. If you don't have any pork or beef on hand, you could also transform your Reuben into a Rachel sandwich and layer on roasted turkey. For a plant-based take, sub the meat for your favorite tempeh or veggie alternative.