Pork buns are probably the best snack I get at yum cha, second only to radish cakes and salted white bait. But it isn’t until you attempt to make your favourite treats that you fully appreciate the effort all those cooks must have gone through before someone created the ready-to-steam packet versions. It was time consuming, but it was fun and delicious. It also meant that I got to overfill my buns with meat, as you can see above.
Unfortunately, like the pavlova, this was a bit of a mish-mash of the recipes I had on hand. So giving you one solid recipe is a bit impossible. However, I do happen to know a blog with some pretty neat recipes for pork buns, which you should all definitely take a look at! Below is the recipe which started me on my quest to make my own buns.
Makes: 10, Time: 2hrs +
- 1 1/2 teaspoons instant dry yeast
- 3/4 cup lukewarm water
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- Scant 3 cups flour
- 2 pounds pork butt cut into 4 pieces
- 3 tablespoons maltose (you can find this at most Asian grocery stores)
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
- 3 tablespoons sweet soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon Chinese five spice powder
- 1 teaspoon white pepper
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- half a head of garlic, peeled and sliced
- 1 1/2 cups chopped char siu
- 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
- 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
- 1/2 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- Put the yeast in a small bowl, add the water and set aside for 1 minute. Whisk in the oil to blend and dissolve the yeast. Set aside.
- Make the dough by hand: Combine the sugar, baking powder and flour in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and pour in the yeast mixture. Slowly stir with a wooden spoon, moving from the center toward the rim, to work in all the flour. (Add lukewarm water by the teaspoon if this doesn’t happen with relative ease.)
- Keep stirring as a ragged, soft mass forms. Then use your fingers to gather and pat the dough together into a ball. Transfer to a work surface and knead for about 5 minutes, until smooth, fingertip-soft and slightly elastic. (You shouldn’t need any additional flour on the work surface if the dough was properly made.
- Keep kneading, and after the first minute or two, the dough shouldn’t stick to your fingers. If it does, work in a sprinkling of flour.) Press your finger into the dough; the dough should spring back, with a faint indentation remaining.
- Lightly oil a clean bowl and add the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and put in a warm, draft-free place to rise until nearly doubled, 30 to 45 minutes. The dough is now ready to use.
- Mix together the sauce ingredients until well blended.
- Drizzle sauce over char siu. You don’t want your meat drowning in sauce, just a light coating.
- Divide the dough into 10 equal pieces.
- Take a piece of dough and flatten it a bit with your hands, leaving the edges thicker than the middle. (This is contrary to how a lot of people form dumplings, or buns, but this is how you get your buns to burst open on top)
- Spoon 2 tablespoons of char siu filling into the middle of the piece of dough being careful not to get sauce on the edges of the dough. If oil or sauce touches the edges, it decreases the chance that your dough will burst open.
- Bring the edges of the dough up and pleat the dough to seal it. Place the bun on a small square of parchment paper.
- Repeat until all buns are made. Cover buns and let rise for 30 minutes.
- Preheat a steamer and arrange buns on steamer or plate, leaving an inch between each bun.
- When the steamer is hot, steam the buns for 15 minutes. Do not open the lid to check.
- When 15 minutes is up, remove and enjoy!