The AP reports that Chinese State TV has uncovered a “steamed bun” making operation in one Beijing neighborhood that uses pieces of cardboard collected from the street and softened with caustic soda as the main ingredient. From the AP:
The hidden camera follows the man, whose face is not shown, into a ramshackle building where steamers are filled with the fluffy white buns, traditionally stuffed with minced pork.
The surroundings are filthy, with water puddles and piles of old furniture and cardboard on the ground.
“What’s in the recipe?” the reporter asks. “Six to four,” the man says.
“You mean 60 percent cardboard? What is the other 40 percent?” asks the reporter. “Fatty meat,” the man replies.
The bun maker and his assistants then give a demonstration on how the product is made.
Squares of cardboard picked from the ground are first soaked to a pulp in a plastic basin of caustic soda — a chemical base commonly used in manufacturing paper and soap — then chopped into tiny morsels with a cleaver. Fatty pork and powdered seasoning are stirred in.
Soon, steaming servings of the buns appear on the screen. The reporter takes a bite.
“This baozi filling is kind of tough. Not much taste,” he says. “Can other people taste the difference?”
“Most people can’t. It fools the average person,” the maker says. “I don’t eat them myself.”