Steamed Pork Buns (Char Siu Bao)

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If you've ever seen the anime TV series Samurai Champloo, the characters always seem to be eating soft, round 'dumplings'. This is the closest thing I've found to approximate them. These need to be started 1 1/2-2 hours ahead of time because the yeast dough needs to rise an hour. The filling can be made early and refrigerated until needed. It's quite a bit of work, but the buns come out soft and pillowy from the steam and the filling is basically Chinese barbecue with hoisin and five spice. Also would probably be good with Korean bulgogi style filling (?).

Filling:
1/2 teaspoon five-spice powder
1 pound ground pork
1 cup thinly sliced green onions
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon salt
Dough:
1 cup warm water (100° to 110°)
3 tablespoons sugar
1 package dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (about 14 2/3 ounces)
3 tablespoons canola oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

To prepare the filling, brown ground pork with 5 spice powder. Place pork in a medium bowl. Add onions and next 7 ingredients (through 1/4 teaspoon salt); stir well to combine. Cover and refrigerate.

To prepare dough, combine 1 cup warm water, sugar, and yeast in a large bowl; let stand 5 minutes.
Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add flour, oil, and 1/4 teaspoon salt to yeast mixture; stir until a soft dough forms. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes).

Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 1 hour or until doubled in size. (Gently press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, dough has risen enough.)

Punch dough down; let rest 5 minutes. Turn dough out onto a clean surface; knead in baking powder. Let dough rest 5 minutes.

Divide dough into 10 (or more, for smaller buns) equal portions, forming each into a ball. Working with one dough ball at a time (cover remaining dough balls to keep from drying), roll ball into a 5-inch circle. Place 1/4 cup filling in center of dough circle. Bring up sides to cover filling and meet on top. Pinch and seal closed with a twist. Repeat procedure with remaining dough balls and filling.

Arrange 5 buns seam side down, 1 inch apart, in each tier of a 2-tiered bamboo steamer. Stack tiers; cover with lid.

Add water to a large skillet to a depth of 1 inch; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Place steamer in pan; steam 15 minutes or until puffed and set. Cool 10 minutes before serving.

Yield: 10 servings (serving size: 1 bun)
Nutritional Information
Calories: 259 (21% from fat)
Fat: 6.1g (sat 0.9g,mono 3.2g,poly 1.5g)
Original recipe

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