Wish Upon A Dish: Char Siu Stuffed Bao Buns - Daring Cooks Challenge December 2011

December 14, 2011

Char Siu Stuffed Bao Buns - Daring Cooks Challenge December 2011

This dim sum bun is perhaps the most well known outside of China. People who are not even familiar with the term or concept of 'dim sum' know "pork buns."

Our Daring Cooks’ December 2012 hostess is Sara from Belly Rumbles!
Sara chose awesome Char Sui Bao as our challenge, where we made the buns, Char Sui, and filling from scratch – delicious!

I immediately opened my Chinese Kitchen cookbook by Eileen Yin-Fei Lo. She provided two wonderful recipes for a pork filling and I chose the BBQ style pork. I also used pork rib meat and my trusty slow cooker.

I have been wanting to make these buns, buying a wok and bamboo steamer just to make dim sum, so this was a good challenge for me. Having this challenge was the little kick in the butt.

I made a few mistakes and learned a few important things....

1. Read the recipes three, four times, then read them again. Lots of steps and you need to plan ahead.
2. Use a pork tenderloin or loin to make the BBQ'd pork. I used country style ribs and thought they would shred nicely, they shredded too much so I had to process them into a baby food consistency. If I did this again I would buy an order of BBQ'd pork from my local take-out joint.
3. I had problems with stuffing them. The dough was a dream to work with but I think because of time, I would use the steam dough instead of the bake dough. Took me all day to make these.

Barbecued Pork (Char Siu Pork)
(adapted from The Chinese Kitchen by Eileen Yin-Fei Lo)

* 4 1/2 pounds lean boneless pork loin
* 3 tablespoons dark soy sauce
* 3 tablespoons soy sauce
* 1/2 cup honey
* 1/2 tsp salt
* 3 tablespoons oyster sauce
* 2 tablespoons Mei Kuei Lu Chiew or gin
* 3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
* 1/8 tsp ground white pepper
* 1 1/2 ounces miso paste
* 1 teaspoon 5-spice powder

1. Cut the pork into slices about 1/2″ to 1″ thick.
Prick all over both sides with a fork.
2. Line a roasting pan with foil. Place the pork in a single layer in the bottom of the pan.
In a small bowl, whisk together all remaining ingredients and pour over the meat. Cover with plastic wrap and let marinate 2 to 4 hours.
3. Heat the oven to 450 F. Place the roasting pan on a rack in the middle and roast for about 25 minutes. Turn the meat over and baste every 5 to 6 minutes. If the sauce dries out, add some boiling water to the pan. Some of the sauce may burn in the pan, but the meat should be fine. Check for doneness by removing one piece of pork and slicing in the middle to see if it is cooked through.
4. Remove from the pan to cool.

Baked Pork Bun Filling(Guk Char Siu Bau)
Makes 12 buns

* 1 tbsp oyster sauce
* 1 1/2 tsp soy sauce
* 2 tsp ketchup
* 2 tsp sugar
* pinch white pepper
* 2 tsp corn starch
* 1/4 cup chicken stock

* 1 tbsp vegetable oil
* 1/2 cup diced onion
* 3/4 cup char siu pork, cut into 1/4″ pieces
* 2 tsp Chinese rice wine
* 1/2 tsp sesame oil
* 1 package dry yeast
* 1/3 cup sugar
* 1/2 cup hot water (115°)
* 2 cups high-gluten bread flour
* 1/2 egg, beaten
* 5 tablespoons lard or vegetable shortening

1. In a large mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast and sugar in the water. Place the bowl in a warm place to allow the yeast to activate, about 30-60 minutes. A brownish foam will have formed on top.
2. Add the flour, egg and lard/shortening and stir continuously with your hand until a dough mass begins to form.
3. Begin to gather the dough in the bowl, and when the mixture becomes cohesive, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface for kneading.
4. Knead the dough for about 15 minutes, picking it up with a scraper and sprinkling the surface with more flour if it begins to stick.
5. When the dough is smooth and elastic, place it in a large mixing bowl and cover with a lightly dampened towel. Allow the dough to rise in a warm place until it has tripled in size, about 2-3 hours.

To make the filling:
1. Heat the vegetable oil on high in a large saucepan and spread to coat the pan thinly. Add the onion, lower heat to medium, and cook for about 5 minutes until the onion is light brown. Add the pork and cook for about 3 minutes. Add the rice wine and mix well. Stir the sauce, pour into the pan, and cook for about 2 minutes, or until the sauce thickens. Remove from heat, and stir in sesame oil. Set aside, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate until needed.

To assemble:
Roll the dough into a cylinder about 12″ long and cut into 12 equal pieces. Keeping the unused dough covered with a damp cloth, work with one piece at a time. Flatten slightly, spoon about 1 1/2 tbsp into the middle, and pinch the dough together to enclose the filling. Set onto a small square of wax paper, and repeat with remaining dough.
Arrange the buns so they have room to expand (leave at least 1 1/2″ between them).

Place all of the completed buns on a cookie sheet at least 2 inches apart to allow for expansion. Put the buns in a warm place to allow to rise for another 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 350°. Using a spray bottle, spray each bun lightly with warm water and then brush each with beaten egg.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, turning the pan around halfway through baking to promote even browning. When the buns are golden brown, remove them from the oven and serve immediately.

The buns can be frozen after baking. To reheat, defrost and bring to room temperature. Cover with foil and place in a 350° oven for 10 15 minutes or until hot.

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