If you and I only just met and we happened to be at Yum Cha… I would fight you to the death for the last char siu bao (BBQ pork bun).
Over the years Scotty has learnt to deal in yum cha trades. Usually his trade goes something like this “ok, so I’m going to have the last har gow and sui mai as I know you won’t let me have the last char siu bao”. I’m usually happy to forgo anything else on the table for the last char siu bao and I’m pretty sure he uses it to his advantage.
For all my love of these pillowy soft beauties, I had never tried to make them… until now. Some might say it is unnecessary to try and make something that you can buy in Hurstville (10 mins from my house) for $1 which tastes amazing. But, in my effort to learn to cook all the foods I love so I can understand what makes them great – I knew I just had to try it and I will definitely be making them again.
I’ll start by confessing that I did make it a little easier for myself by buying BBQ pork from Mr Chao’s in Hurstville to use in the filling. Perhaps you lovely readers may be more likely to try to make it yourself at home knowing you don’t also have to make the BBQ pork first (baby steps my friends).
I had so much fun making this recipe. I’ve definitely become a lot more comfortable with dough in the last few years… and my trick is? Just keep making dough! The more you make it, the easier it gets. And in most cases, you will be surprised by how easy it actually is.
I was pretty happy with the end result of my pork buns. The filling was extremely flavourful with gorgeous glossy pork. The dough turned out well too and was fluffy on the inside. I do have a feeling that I worked the dough a little too much trying to fill them (must work more quickly next time) and instead of pinching the top of each bun closed, I closed the top too tightly so they didn’t break open as I hoped they would.
Still, they were wonderful and I know I’ll perfect the dough next time. Practice makes perfect!
Char Siu Bao (BBQ Pork Bun)
Adapted from a Teage Ezard recipe
YEAST BUN DOUGH
1 1/2 tablespoons caster sugar
1 cup lukewarm water
1 1/2 teaspoons dried yeast
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
400g plain flour
BBQ PORK FILLING
1/2 tablespoon peanut oil
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1cm piece ginger, finely chopped
4 fresh shiitake mushrooms, diced
300g Char Siu Pork (bought from Chinatown), diced
1 spring onion, finely sliced
1 tablespoon Pat Chun sweetened vinegar
3 1/2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
In a medium bowl place sugar and water, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Add the yeast and leave to rest for 10 min until frothy.
Add oil and baking powder and sift in flour. Stir with your hands until it comes together as a smooth (and slightly wet) dough. Cover with a damp cloth and set aside in a warm location until the dough has doubled in size. Once risen, knock it back and scrape out of the bowl. Use immediately (or within 12 hours if wrapped in cling film).
Heat the oils in a wok and add garlic, ginger and mushrooms, stir frying until fragrant. Add the pork, spring onions, vinegar, hoisin and soy and cook for 2 minutes or until the liquid has almost evaporated. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
Divide the dough into 12 balls. On a floured bench, roll each ball into a flat disc about 8cm wide. Place a teaspoon of the pork mixture in the centre of each disk and bring the edges up around the filling and pinch together at the top to seal.
Place buns in a steamer lined with baking paper ensuring you allow enough room to rise. Steam for 10 – 12 minutes, or until the tops have opened. Serve immediately with soy sauce and chilli.