Friday, February 5, 2016

Steamed Roast Pork Buns (Char Siu Bao)...

Leftovers from my exciting first-ever home roasting of Crispy Roast Pork Siu Yok the other day turned into another proud session with steaming Char Siu Bao or should I say Siu Yok Bao :)-- everyone's top dim sum favourite! One I've been meaning to attempt but didn't get overly inspired until making my own siu yok got me thinking creative with the leftovers. These delectable filled buns soften and open like flowers as they steam and my kids adore them! Their history dates back to when ovens were rare in China and most foods, including these buns were cooked in steamers over the fire. My filling is brownish in colour due to using roast pork siu yok, double soy and oyster sauces as opposed to what you eat at most dim sum joints, with a red centre barbecue glazed pork char siu filling and perhaps a few drops of red food colouring :P. These didn't turn out to be fluffy snow mountain-white pull-apart ones like in the steam baskets at restaurants, as I learned afterwards it is due to using cornstarch in the dough-- one part to two parts all-purpose flour.  That will be the revision in my next bao-making attempt and perhaps another tablespoon of sugar to further sweeten the buns (it's all part of the recipe development process- tweaking and testing until you get results just right for you and your family's preference). However, this dough was utterly A.M.A.Z.I.N.G and versatile-- slightly chewy and denser (reminiscent of other kinds of Asian baos), but nevertheless delishush!! So wearing my happy pappy smile, let's take it away... Bao Wow Wow!

Steamed Roast Pork Buns (Char Siu Bao)
Makes about 20 baos

For the dough:
3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
2 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. oil
1 tsp. baking powder (this will be added after the dough had a chance to rise for two hours)

For the filling:
1/2 cup water
1-1/2 tsp. all-purpose flour
1-1/2 tsp. tapioca starch
1 Tbsp. light soy sauce
2 tsp. dark soy sauce
1-1/2 Tbsp. sugar
1-1/2 Tbsp. oyster sauce
1 tsp. sesame oil
1/2 lb. Chinese roast pork or barbecued pork, deli shop-bought or try my homemade crispy roast pork siu yok, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 Tbsp. chopped green onion (optional)

To make the dough: Place the flour in a large mixing bowl. In a separate small bowl, combine the yeast with warm water. In a small saucepan over medium heat, warm the milk; remove from heat and add the sugar; stir to dissolve. Stir in the yeast mixture into the milk. Slowly stir the milk mixture into the flour and add oil to form a soft, firm dough. In the bowl, knead the dough for ten minutes until smooth and elastic; cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place for two hours, until doubled in size. 

Use Your Mixer: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment turn on to the lowest setting and let it go until a smooth dough ball is formed. 

Knead in bowl until smooth and cover with damp cloth.

In the meantime, get a large piece of parchment paper and cut it into 20 4x4 inch squares, or you could set out 20 paper muffin liners and flatten them out side-by-side on a baking sheet. 

While the dough is rising, make the meat filling. In a saucepan combine the water, flour and tapioca starch. Stir to dissolve. Add the soy sauces, sugar, oyster sauce and sesame oil. Heat and stir until the mixture thickens. Add the cubes of roast pork and onions (if using) mix well. Let the filling cool. TIP: If you are making the filling ahead of time, cover and refrigerate to prevent it from drying out.

After your dough has rested and risen, punch down the dough and turn it onto a lightly floured surface. Add the baking powder to the dough and knead for about 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth; sprinkle with flour from time to time while kneading (talk about using your muscles). If you are using a mixer, turn it on to the lowest setting. If the dough looks dry or you're having trouble incorporating the baking powder, add 1 to 2 teaspoons water. Roll the dough into a long sausage 1-1/2 inches in diameter. Cut into 20 pieces. 

Now we are ready to assemble the buns: Press each piece of dough into a disc about 4-1/2 inches in diameter (it should be thicker in the centre and thinner around the edges). Working with one round at a time, place about one Tbsp. filling in the centre. Pleat right around the edge of the round by fluting and tugging upwards to create a pouch for the filling and more skin to pinch and twist at the top to close. Set the bun on each square parchment paper as they are bring made. Cover with damp cloth to keep buns from drying out.

The best I could do with other hand on camera :) 

Don't worry if it's slightly agape at the top.

Prepare your steamer by placing it on a rack in your skillet/wok; fill with water just under the rack and bring it to a boil. Arrange each bun with parchment paper into a slightly greased steam basket or bamboo steamer leaving 1-1/2 inches in between; close lid. I steamed the buns in three separate batches (be sure the boiling water does not touch the buns during steaming process or it'll wet the bun bottoms) and add water to skillet/wok as necessary. Steam each batch for 13-15 minutes over high heat until piping hot. Best served immediately or the skin will toughen.


These guys were happy happy campers let me tell ya'! ヾ(o✪‿✪o)シ

Soft, tender, slightly chewy bao giving way to savoury sweet succulent pork. YUM!

Freezing TIP: Allow to cool to room temperature after steaming. Place in plastic freezer bags, seal closed and freeze. They will keep up to two months. To reheat the buns, thaw and allow to come to room temperature, then steam for about five minutes, or until they are very hot.

Now that I've got a solid bao recipe down-- the filling options are limitless... from all kinds of savouries with meat, seafood and veggie or flavoured like curry, five-spice or Korean-style. The most exciting one I've ever tried and still lingers in my food memory was in Yokohama's Chukagai filled with delectable savoury strands of shark-fin-- mmmm. And then there are sweet ones-- with sesame or red bean paste, custard, sweet potato or chestnut.... 

In Yokohama's Chukagai (Chinatown)-- Japan's largest and one of the world's biggest!
My brother and husband stepping aside to savour street bao bao.

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