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Steamed Pork Buns

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Yields 16 buns

  • by from Fine Cooking
    Issue 109

Authentic Chinese steamed pork buns are a dim sum classic. Watch the video for Eileen's step-by-step demonstration of how to make the dough, the filling, and how to shape the buns.

For the filling
  • 1/2 cup lower-salt chicken broth
  • 2 Tbs. oyster sauce
  • 2 Tbs. ketchup
  • 5 tsp. granulated sugar
  • 4 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1 Tbs. dark soy sauce 
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground white pepper
  • 1 recipe Chinese Barbecued Roast Pork
  • 2 Tbs. peanut oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice (1/2 cup)
  • 1 Tbs. Shaoxing (Chinese rice wine)
  • 1-1/2 tsp. Asian sesame oil
For the dough
  • 10-1/8 oz. (2-1/4 cups) bleached all-purpose flour, preferably Gold Medal; more as needed
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3-1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 6 Tbs. whole milk, at room temperature
  • 2 Tbs. melted lard or peanut oil
Make the filling

In a medium bowl, stir or whisk the broth, oyster sauce, ketchup, sugar, cornstarch, soy sauce, 1/2 tsp. salt, and a pinch of pepper. Finely dice enough of the barbecued roast pork to yield 1-1/2 cups (about 6 oz.). Heat a wok over high heat for 30 seconds. Add the peanut oil and swirl to coat. When a wisp of white smoke appears, in about 30 seconds, add the onion. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook, stirring often, until golden-brown, about 6 minutes.

Add the pork, increase the heat to high, and stir-fry to combine, 2 to 3 minutes. Drizzle the wine from the edge of the wok into the pork mixture and stir well. Reduce the heat to medium.

Make a well in the center of the mixture and pour in the sauce. Stir until the mixture thickens, about 3 minutes. Add the sesame oil and mix well. Refrigerate until cool.

Make the dough

Mix the flour, sugar, and baking powder on a clean work surface and make a well in the center. While slowly pouring the milk into the well, use your fingers in a circular motion to pull the flour mixture into the milk until it’s absorbed. Make another well, add 3 Tbs. room-temperature water, and continue to use your fingers to work the dough. Add the lard or peanut oil and, using your fingers and a dough scraper or bench knife, work the dough until thoroughly combined.

Gather the dough with the dough scraper in one hand and begin kneading with the other. Knead the dough for 10 to 12 minutes—it should feel smooth, pliable, elastic, and slightly tacky to the touch. If the dough is too sticky to work with, sprinkle a little flour on the work surface and your hands as you knead it. If the dough feels dry, lightly wet your hands with water and continue kneading. When the dough is smooth and elastic, shape it into a ball, cover with a slightly damp cloth, and let rest at room temperature for about 1 hour. (The dough must be used within 2 hours of the time it was made. It cannot be frozen.)

Portion the dough

Have ready sixteen 2-1/2-inch squares of parchment or waxed paper.

Lightly flour a work surface. Roll the prepared dough into a 16-inch-long log. Cut the log into 16 equal pieces and then roll each piece into a ball. Cover the dough with the damp cloth.

Make the buns

Working with one piece at a time, shape a dough ball into a cup that’s about 1-1/2 inches deep and about 3 inches in diameter. The sides of the dough cup should be thinner than the bottom. Hold the dough cup in one hand and spoon about 1 Tbs. of the pork filling into the center. Gather the edges of the dough and pull them up and over the filling, using your thumb to push the filling down as you pleat with your fingers to cover the filling. It may seem like a tight fit at first, but the dough will stretch as you pull it around the filling. Twist the top to seal the bun and pinch off any excess dough. Put the bun, knot side up, on a parchment square and set aside. As you gain confidence, you may use 1-1/2 Tbs. of filling in subsequent buns. Repeat until 16 buns have been made, cleaning off your thumb on a damp cloth after making each bun.

Divide the buns (still on their parchment squares) equally between 2 bamboo steamers, spacing the buns at least 2 inches apart. Stack the steamers on top of each other and cover.

In a wok, bring 6 cups of water to a boil over high heat. Set the stacked steamers over the boiling water and steam the buns until they look fluffy and their tops have opened like flowers to slightly reveal the filling, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the steamers from the wok, put them on platters and serve the buns immediately, straight from the steamers.

Make Ahead Tips

The filling may be made up to 1 day ahead; keep refrigerated and do not freeze. Cooked buns will keep in an airtight container for 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator or 4 to 6 weeks in the freezer. To reheat: If frozen, let the buns thaw and come to room temperature; if refrigerated, let them come to room temperature. Then steam the buns in bamboo steamers until very hot, 5 to 7 minutes.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 270; Fat (g): fat g 7; Fat Calories (kcal): 60; Saturated Fat (g): sat fat g 2; Protein (g): protein g 15; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 3; Carbohydrates (g): carbs g 36; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 1.5; Sodium (mg): sodium mg 700; Cholesterol (mg): cholesterol mg 40; Fiber (g): fiber g 1;

Photo: Colin Clark

Ok so made these and something is most definitely off in this recipe. Tried twice, followed directions perfectly, and.... not good. The dough is not pliable. However...... filling is delicious. Also after giving up I baked the dough and they made great biscuits perfect for strawberry shortcake! LOL HAHAHAHHEHEHOHO Very frustrating experience

looks so good, but I have a Big doubt: Do I need the already barbecued Pork to make the filling with another bbq sauce? because in the video, the pork doesn't look marinated

Love the dough, prefer a slightly sweeter variety of filling, but it is good. I'm a bit annoyed to use only 1/5th of the barbequed pork, and then only 1/3rd of the filling with the dough recipe. If I hadn't liked it, it would be a lot of wasted meat. I used my KitchenAid mixer to make the dough, and that worked out very well.

Perfect results the first time! Just like my favorite Chinese deli in San Francisco. Tried two things that made the filling stage easier - Rolled the dough portions out with a rolling pin instead of hand-shaping, and after the pleating process I wiped the inner edge of the pleats with a moistened finger which helped the final twist hold together better. The video was a great help.

Awesome recipe, they taste just like what you get at the restaurant. It was so easy, the directions and video were excellent, success on my first try too. Will definitely do this recipe again, next time I will try it with chicken. Will definitely share your recipe with my mom-in-law, she loves these baos.

Delicious! These are a little hard to shape, so definitely watch the video. Also, the recipe does make a lot of filling, so there will be extra. So tasty-- perfect with a big bowl of soup.

Made these for dinner tonight and they are excellent! Can not wait to make them again. If you follow the recipe for making the bbq pork,it makes 2 to 3 times more than you need to make the buns. Since we have a lot of meat leftover we may be eating this again in a day or two.

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