Grab Your Buns and Go to Town
I’ll admit that this is not my first time to the pork bun rodeo. From my sister’s obsession with the steamed version on Sunday’s at the dim sum parlor, to my husband’s cravings for the baked variety fresh from the Chinatown Roast Pork Bun Factory in NYC, I had a clear and compelling reason to learn how to make them for myself. I found a recipe by cookbook author Andrea Nguyen for the perfect little snacky bites and thought that I would try her recipe. But the idea of making that dough from scratch made me sleepy. Especially after cooking the pork for the buns not once but twice before stuffing. I saved myself a step and used Pillsbury dinner rolls to get the job done. The results were less than perfection in terms of the dough, but still so freakin’ delicious.
Fast-forward to a month ago when I learned that this month’s Daring Kitchen was to make Roast Pork Buns. I was elated at the prospect of giving them a whirl from start to finish, dough and all. I went back to Andrea Nguyen’s recipe and this time, committed to the art of baking. Upon completion, although the buns were ever so delicious, they were still not the majestically fluffy ones that I had at the dim sum parlor. I think that were I to give this another try, I would use a challah dough for the outside and keep the filling exactly the same, using shallots for Nguyen’s suggestion of scallions (the shallots make for a meltingly sweet filling, which is what you are going for here).
To make it a true dim sum experience, we threw in a mix of some of my favorite dumpling recipes, invited over a mess of friends to help pinch and pleat, and went to town.
- Jiao Zi
- Har Gow
- Chef Tim’s Pork and Chive Potsticker
- XO Chinese Long Beans
- Spring Rolls with Pork, Shrimp and Bamboo Shoots
- Unfried Rice
The resulting get together was pretty much amazing, and I have Ms. Sara from Belly Rumbles to thank for the impetus and the inspiration.
Baked Roast Pork BunsIngredients
1 lb. of boneless pork ribs
1 packet of chinese barbecue seasoning mix
1 tbs. of sesame oil
1/8 tsp. of white pepper
1 tbs. of brown sugar
1 tbs. of dark soy
1 tbs. oyster sauce
1 tsp. sherry
1 tbs. sesame oil
1 tbs. of vegetable oil
2 shallots, minced
1 tbs. water
1 tbs. cornstarch
salt to taste
1/2 c. plus 2 tbs. of whole milk
4 tbs. of butter
2 tsp. of active dry yeast
2 1/2 tbs. of warm water
2 1/2 tbs. of sugar
2 1/2 c. of all purpose flour
2 tbs. of water
2 tbs. of honey
Begin by making the roast pork. Mix the barbecue mix with the water and sesame oil. Toss the pork in the marinade and let rest overnight.
Preheat the oven to 450°. Line a baking sheet with a wire rack and place pork on top. Roast the pork until barely cooked through, about 15 minutes. Let cool.
Chop pork finely with a knife or in the food processor. Heat a skillet over medium heat and add the sesame and vegetable oil. Add the pork, white pepper, brown sugar, soy, oyster sauce, sherry and shallots and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Mix the water and cornstarch together until smooth and pour over the pork. Stir until thickened and then taste for salt. Let cool.
While the pork cools, make the dough. Warm the butter and milk in a saucepan. In the bowl of a standing mixer, add the yeast and water. Pour in the milk mixture and blend with the dough hook. Add the flour and sugar to the mixer and blend until a sticky dough forms. Oil a mixing bowl and plop the dough into it. Cover with plastic and set on top of the oven (I follow Nguyen’s suggestion of turning the oven on to keep the bowl warm) to rise for 45 minutes.
Now to make the buns. Cut the roll of dough into 8 pieces. Flour a board and rolling pin, and roll each piece of dough into a 3in wide circle. Add a heaping tablespoon of the pork filling to the middle of the dough. Pinch the dough together in the center. Place the bun, pinched side down, on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Repeat with the other buns.
Brush the buns with the beaten eggs and bake in the oven on 350° for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and while hot, brush with a mixture of honey and water. Serve warm.