Happy New Year friends! Hope you all had a wonderful holiday filled with copious amounts of food, stuffed bellies, excess of sweets and tons of fun.
Our first recipe that we decided to try for this brand new year is one of our all time faves (well, E’s all time fave.. he usually buys these at the bakery)… Chinese BBQ Pork buns, also referred to as ‘cha siu bao’. These baos were no joke… tasted like legit bakery buns!
I’ve tried making these years ago and they just didn’t turn out like the bakery buns, but these…. you need to try these… the house smelled like an asian bakery for a few hours.
The original recipe came from a posting by The Woks of Life (love this blog, check it out for more asian favourites). I’ve tried making this recipe twice now and the only thing we changed was adding a touch more sugar to the filing… I think it comes down to personal preference, we like our filling on the slightly more sweet side. The recipe looks long, but its not very difficult, just a number of steps… that are well worth it in the end!
Baked Chinese BBQ Pork Buns
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 2/3 cup warm water
- 1/3 cup milk
- 5 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup milk
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 teaspoons instant yeast
- 2 eggs
- 4 tablespoons melted butter
- eggwash (1 egg, beaten with a tablespoon of milk)
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds (optional)
The BBQ Pork Filling
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup shallots, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons sugar (add more to taste, we added about 1 tbsp more)
- 1 ½ tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
- 1 ½ tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce (we used mushroom flavoured dark soy by Lee Kum Kee)
- ¾ cup chicken stock
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 2 cups diced Chinese roast pork
- Make the Tangzhong: In a medium sauce pan, whisk together flour, water and milk until the flour is dissolved. Cook over medium low heat while stirring until thickened to the consistency of toothpaste then remove from heat (3-5 mins)
- Make the bread: In the bowl of a kitchen aid mixer (or large bowl), combine flour, sugar, salt, and yeast. Add the slightly cooled tangzhong, milk, eggs, and the melted butter. Stir together and then knead for 15-20 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. The dough should appear very soft and sticky at first, but it should become more elastic and less sticky throughout the kneading process. If your dough is too sticky at the end, you can add a little more flour until the dough feels tacky but still soft. If it’s too sticky, it may be hard to work with when filling the buns.
- Form the dough into a ball and place into a lightly greased bowl then cover with a damp cloth, and let rise for 1 hour.
- The BBQ Pork filling: in a pot or wok, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium high heat. Add the shallot and stir-fry for 2 minutes or until softened. Add the sugar, soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, and dark soy; stir and cook until bubbling. Add the chicken stock and flour. Reduce heat to medium low and cook. Stir for a couple minutes until thickened to the consistency of almost toothpaste (we found the second time we made it, we didn’t cook it long enough to thicken up as much and it was very hard to fill the buns as the filling was too runny). Remove from heat and stir in the roast pork. Set aside to cool.
- Making the buns: after an hour, the dough should have risen about 3-4 times the volume; gently deflate the dough and separate into 16 equal pieces (cut the dough, rather than tear it as not to tear the developed gluten strands)
- We found it easiest to shape each on a large plate – flatten and shape each piece into a circle with your hands, where the center is slightly thicker than the edges.
- The filling should be thick enough to not run all over the dough (a mistake that we made the second time). Using a spoon, scoop about 2 tbsp filling into the center of the dough and carefully pinch the dough and enclose the filling (you can crimp in a circle or do what we did and pinched the opposite ends together until the bun was completely sealed. Pinch and twist the sealed edges together and place seam side down on a lined baking sheet. Now repeat for the rest of the buns.
- Cover and allow the buns to rise for an hour – they will expand and become puffy
- Preheat the oven to 400F. As the oven is preheating, egg wash the buns (we just used one beaten egg) and add sesame seeds if desired
- Place a tray of buns into the oven and immediately turn the heat down to 350F and allow to bake for about 20-25 mins or until golden (20 minutes in our oven was perfect)
- Allow to cool for about 10 minutes on the baking sheet and then carefully transfer to a cooling so the bottoms don’t get soggy. Enjoy!
The first time we tried the recipe, we ended up putting too much filling into the buns and were short filling for about three buns… so we got a little creative.. well, E did. I stuck with what I knew… since the bread is similar to your typical pillowy soft asian bun, you can substitute pretty well any filling you’d like… we didn’t have hot dogs in the house (an easy and popular pick), so I went with pork floss and green onions, with a smidge of mayo to keep everything moist. I believe they are called Pork Sung Buns.
E got a little more creative and sautéed some diced chinese sausage and green onions and stuffed that into the bun. Both were pretty good alternatives, however, we both agreed that we really liked the sauce in the BBQ pork buns… If you really don’t want to make the whole bun recipe, at least try the sauce… it so goodd… we made extra sauce the second time round and made sauce over rice with a side of asian veggies… it was saucy pork perfection in a bowl.