Sunday, March 8, 2009

Steamed Pork Buns

These are a lot easier to make than they look, but they have to rise repeatedly so I recommend making them on a weekend afternoon, just so you don't have to stress about the time. It goes like this: Make the dough, knead it forever, let it rise, fill, shape, let it rise again, and steam it. They get easier as you go, and they're really good so it's worth it.
The dough recipe is from Dim Sum by Rhoda Yee, a cookbook my mom gave me last year. (It's nice to have a mom who sends cook books!) This book is great for anyone who wants to learn how to make dim sum, it's got a ton of recipes and a glossary of Chinese ingredients in the back, as well as really lovely drawings showing how to fold the various buns and noodles around the fillings.
If you don't have a steamer (I don't), you can wing it by simmering about 1 1/2" of water in a large skillet or wok, and set a wire cookie-cooling rack on top. Place the buns on the rack, and cover the whole rack with a large mixing bowl to keep the steam in. Works like a charm.

Steamed Pork Buns
makes 1 dozen, about 1 total hour of work + up to 4 hours dough rising time.

Pork Bun Filling:
1 lb ground pork
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sherry
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 1/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp finely chopped green onions
1 tsp ginger
1 tbsp hoisin sauce
1 tbsp cornstarch

Combine all ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. Set in the fridge until ready to use.

Steamed Bun Dough:
1 1/8 tsp yeast (half a packet)
1 cup warm water
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
3 1/4 cup all purpose flour

Dissolve the yeast and sugar in the warm water in a large bowl. Add the baking powder right away, then mix the flour in with a pastry cutter or your hands. The dough will be firm and a little on the dry side, but if it's so dry that it cracks while kneading, add a little more water by wetting your hands and kneading some more. Knead for 20 minutes (I know, I know, but that's what makes the dough soft) until it is elastic and smooth. Place it back in the big mixing bowl, cover with a damp cloth and let rise until doubled in size, about 2 1/2 hours. Punch down the dough and knead it for 5 minutes. Now it's ready to be made into buns.

Cut a dozen squares of parchment paper, about 2.5" across.
Grab a golfball sized piece of dough and roll it into a ball with your hands. Lay it between two pieces of parchment paper and roll it out to a 4" disc. Set a heaping tablespoon of pork filling on the center of the bun and fold up 4 corners, pinch them together well. Pinch the remaining edges into the center, then pinch and twist the whole closure to ensure it's well sealed. Place seam-side-down on a piece of parchment paper and set aside, 2" apart on a cookie sheet.
When all the buns are formed, cover with a towel and let rise one more hour.

Place the buns (with paper) an inch apart on the steamer rack and cover, let cook over the boiling water for about 10 minutes. The pork may still look pink when it's done due to the seasonings.

Serve with a mix of 1/4 cup hoisin sauce, 1/4 cup soy sauce, with some green onions and red pepper flakes mixed in.

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