Barbecue Pork Buns

These buns represent dim sum heaven at home. We created our own makeshift steamer basket out of disposable aluminum foil cake pans, but feel free to use a steamer basket if you have one. 

For more recipes inspired by Chinese New Year celebrations, pick up a copy of our January/February 2020 issue.

How to Shape and Steam your Buns

 

  1. Create your makeshift steamer basket by poking 20 evenly spaced holes in bottom of 2 (9-inch) round foil cake pans. Place 1 cake pan, upside down, in a large Dutch oven, and pour water to a depth of ½ inch in pot. Carefully flatten remaining cake pan to use as a steamer rack.

2. Divide dough into 12 portions (about 59 grams each). Shape each portion, one at a time, into a ball, and press into a 3-inch disk. Using a small rolling pin, roll edges of disks to ¼-inch thickness, creating a 4½-inch circle, keeping the center thicker than the edges. (The thinner edges will help your pleats have better definition.)

3. Place a circle of dough in the palm of your hand. Place 1 rounded tablespoon filling (about 24 grams) in center. Using the thumb and forefinger of your other hand, pleat and pinch dough edges to enclose filling, rotating dough in your palm as you go.

4. Tightly pinch together the top to seal, pulling dough up to a point and pinching off excess dough. (For best shape, place shaped bun on a work surface and gently cup with both hands to round it out.)

Barbecue Pork Buns
 

Makes 12 buns
Ingredients
  • 3 tablespoons (42 grams) canola oil, divided
  • 2 garlic cloves (10 grams), minced
  • 1½ teaspoons (8 grams) minced fresh ginger
  • 8 ounces (227 grams) cooked pork*, chopped into ¼-inch pieces
  • 1½ tablespoons (27 grams) hoisin sauce
  • 1 tablespoon (14 grams) oyster sauce
  • 1½ teaspoons (7.5 grams) rice vinegar
  • 1½ teaspoons (7.5 grams) low-sodium soy sauce
  • 4 tablespoons (48 grams) plus 1 teaspoon (4 grams) granulated sugar, divided
  • 2 tablespoons (4 grams) finely chopped fresh chives
  • ½ cup (120 grams) warm water (105°F/41°C to 110°F/43°C)
  • 2¼ teaspoons (7 grams) active dry yeast
  • 3 cups (375 grams) all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup (32 grams) cornstarch
  • ½ cup (120 grams) whole milk, room temperature
  • ½ teaspoon (1.5 grams) kosher salt
  • Garnish: chopped fresh chives

Instructions
  1. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon (14 grams) oil over medium heat. Add garlic and ginger; cook, stirring frequently, until softened, 1 to 2 minutes. Add pork, hoisin sauce, oyster sauce, vinegar, soy sauce, and 1 teaspoon (4 grams) sugar. Cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in chives. Let cool completely.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, stir together ½ cup (120 grams) warm water, 1 tablespoon (12 grams) sugar, and yeast until combined. Let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.
  3. In a medium bowl, sift together flour and cornstarch. Add flour mixture, milk, salt, remaining 3 tablespoons (36 grams) sugar, and remaining 2 tablespoons (28 grams) oil to yeast mixture. Beat at medium-low speed just until combined, stopping to scrape sides of bowl. Increase mixer speed to medium, and beat until a smooth, elastic dough forms, 8 to 10 minutes. (Dough should pass the windowpane test; see Note.) Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place (75°F/24°C) until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
  4. Poke 20 evenly spaced holes in bottom of 2 (9-inch round) foil cake pans. Place 1 cake pan, upside down, in a large Dutch oven*, and pour water to a depth of ½ inch in pot. Carefully flatten remaining cake pan to use as a steamer rack. Cut out 12 (4-inch) squares of parchment paper.
  5. Punch down dough, and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Gently knead a few times to release air bubbles. Divide dough into 12 portions (about 59 grams each). Shape each portion, one at a time, into a ball, and press into a 3-inch disk. (Keep remaining dough covered to prevent it from drying out.) Using a small rolling pin, such as a fondant rolling pin, roll edges of disks to ¼-inch thickness, creating a 4½-inch circle, keeping the center thicker than the edges. (The thinner edges will help your pleats have better definition.)
  6. Place a circle of dough in the palm of your hand. Place 1 rounded tablespoon filling (about 24 grams) in center. Using the thumb and forefinger of your other hand, pleat and pinch dough edges to enclose filling, rotating dough in your palm as you go. Tightly pinch together the top to seal, pulling dough up to a point and pinching off excess dough. (For best shape, place shaped bun on a work surface and gently cup with both hands to round it out.)
  7. Place each bun on a parchment square, and arrange on a rimmed baking sheet. (It’s best to begin steaming buns about 30 minutes after shaping. If you need more time to shape your buns, loosely cover buns with plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator to keep them from overproofing.)
  8. Place 3 buns, still on parchment squares, on prepared steamer rack; place over inverted cake pan in prepared pot, and cover with lid. Bring water to a boil over high heat; immediately reduce heat to medium-high, and steam buns for 15 minutes. Immediately turn off heat, and let buns stand in the unopened pot for 2 minutes.
  9. Using two pairs of tongs, carefully remove buns by lifting steamer rack from pot. Remove buns from rack. Repeat with remaining buns, adding additional water to pot as needed. Garnish with chives, if desired.

Notes
*We used Trader Joe’s Fully Cooked Pork Belly. Instead of a Dutch oven, a deep skillet or wok can also be used.

Note: Test the dough for proper gluten development using the windowpane test. Pinch off (don’t tear) a small piece of dough. Slowly pull the dough out from the center. If the dough is ready, you will be able to stretch it until it’s thin and translucent like a windowpane. If the dough tears, it’s not quite ready. Beat for 1 minute more, and test again.

3.5.3251

 

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5 Recipes You Should Be Baking to Celebrate the Lunar New Year

January 25 kicks off the Lunar New Year, a 15-day-long celebration of the beginning of the new year in the traditional Chinese calendar. For those who celebrate, the very light takes on a bright red hue. For these 15 days in China and all other countries that celebrate the Lunar New Year, the cheery glow of red lanterns illuminate the roads, with red paper pasted over windowpanes and doorways for good measure. At night, fireworks shout across the horizon in rapid succession and burst in dazzling, rhythmic fashion—an unsurpassed spectacle considering the Chinese invented fireworks. At the close, thousands of lanterns are lit and sent to the sky, with hopes and dreams scrolled on the paper that will soon be consumed by the growing internal flame. 

But perhaps the quietest tradition is the most important: the reunion dinner, held on Lunar New Year’s Eve. The entire extended family gathers around the dinner table to dine on an multicourse meal made up of dumplings, rice cakes, and more. Food plays an integral part in welcoming the new year, and there is much to feast on. Start this new year, the Year of the Rat, in sweet fashion with our five home baker-friendly recipes featured in our January/February 2020 issue. We’re sharing two of our favorites here, but pick up a copy of the issue for the rest!

Walnut Cookies (hup toh soh)

A common treat found in pastry shops in China year-round, during Chinese New Year, home bakers often make hup toh soh as a crunchy treat to welcome visitors and family to their home. Supposedly, the original walnut cookies contained no walnuts in the dough. The “walnut” in the name might have been used to refer to the cookie’s crunchy texture, or its wrinkly, golden appearance. 

Pineapple Buns (bolo bao)

Instantly recognizable with its crosshatch design on top, pineapple buns are a treasure to have come out of Hong Kong bakeries in the 20th century. Contrary to what its name would have you think, no pineapple is used in making these buns. Instead, the title refers to its similarity in appearance between the crispy top and a pineapple’s bumpy exterior. The base bun is made of a milk bread dough—sweet and fantastically fluffy.

Coconut Almond Rice Cake (nian gao)

For Chinese New Year, a number of rituals ensure luck and fortune: wearing red, not cleaning, burning fake money and coins, and, most deliciously, eating nian gao. This traditionally steamed sticky rice cake is almost 2,000 years old, first coming to prominence around AD 200. The cake’s potential luck is due to being a homonym, with nian gao sounding similar to the Chinese characters for “higher year,” meaning you’ll have a bountiful year by eating a slice of this iconic rice cake. Of course, consuming cake is always lucky in our book. Click here for our recipe!

Sweet Egg Tarts (dan tan)

Hailing from the city of Guangzhou in the 1920s, the Chinese variation of the egg tart features a crisp, crumbly shortcrust made with lard and a luminous, egg-rich custard. Once the dish came to Hong Kong, it transformed again, getting a tender cookie-like pâte sucrée crust but keeping the reflective custard. Though a relatively new addition to the Lunar New Year feasting, the egg tart is one more sweet way to celebrate the new year. 

Barbecue Pork Buns (char siu bao)

A Cantonese and dim sum classic, this bao is special because it is steamed rather than baked, making it both fluffy and sturdy. Once steamed, the dough will form a chewy skin while staying snowy white and gently heating a tender filling of barbecue-style pork (or char siu). Pork is symbolic during the Chinese New Year, standing for strength, wealth, and blessings. Click here for our version of this dum sum classic.

The post 5 Recipes You Should Be Baking to Celebrate the Lunar New Year appeared first on Bake from Scratch.