Sunday, January 25, 2009

Steamed Pork Buns

This is one of my all-time favorite foods. It's a perfect combination of meat and dough that is delicious enough to be a meal but casual enough to be eaten with your hands. I first fell in love with these at Momofuku in New York City. While the steamed bun is Chinese in origin, there are a variety of Asian influences in the modern bun.

Many restaurants buy their buns and only make the fillings fresh, as the process for the perfect steamed bun is a little complicated. But fresh buns are so delicious, as I discovered in my quest to make my own last year. Though they are traditionally made with Hong Kong flour, my version used cake flour, which is much easier to find.

These buns are easy and delicious with any kind of filling, and are the perfect answer to leftover meat in your fridge - shred a roasted chicken, dice up some steak, or, as I did, peel the tender meat off of some delicious pork ribs.

Steamed Pork Buns

Makes 10 small buns.
Leftover Potential: There definitely will not be any left.

Steamed Buns:
3 1/2 cups (12 oz) cake flour, sifted
1 3/4 Tbsp (0.90) oz sugar
pinch salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp (3.50 grams) active dry yeast)
1/2 cup (4.10 oz) water
1/4 cup (2.60 oz) milk

1. In a large bowl, whisk together the cake flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder to combine. When it is well mixed, add the yeast, and mix completely to evenly distribute.
2. In a small pot, heat the water and milk over medium heat. It should feel warm to the touch, but not hot (about 110 degrees). If the mixture gets to hot, cool it down at room temperature.
3. Make a well in the flour mixture, and slowly pour the liquids in. Mix to with fingers to combine, then knead into a smooth dough. By hand, this should take about 4-5 minutes.
4. Place the dough back into the bowl. Cover completely with plastic wrap, and allow to rise in a warm place until double in size, about 20 minutes.
5. Divide the dough into 10 even pieces. Roll the dough into circles about 1/4 inch in thickness.

To Finish:
hoisin sauce, as needed
shredded pork, as needed
1 bunch scallions, finely sliced

10 wax paper or aluminum foil squares, cut into 3" by 3" squares
sriracha, or other spicy chili sauce, as needed for garnish

1. Heat a large pot filled with about 2 inches of water over medium high heat. Place the bamboo steamer on top of the pot. Make sure the lid to the steamer is completely attached.
2. Place a little bit of hoisin sauce on each round of dough, and spread gently to coat the center.
3. Place a mound of shredded meat in the center of each round.
4. Sprinkle generously with scallions.
5. Bring the edges of the dough towards the center, using your fingers to pinch the dough together. Turn the assembled bun over, keeping the sealed side down. Place each bun on a square of wax paper or aluminum foil. This will keep the buns from sticking to the steamer.
6. Place the buns inside the steamer. Depending on it's size, you can steam 5-10 at a time, utilizing the different layers. Steam each bun for 7-9 minutes, or until they are cooked through.
7. Serve with plenty of sriracha and enjoy!

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