Monday, March 2, 2009

Char Siu Hum Bao (Chinese Baked Roast Pork Buns)

Were these just as savory as any char siu bao in Chinatown? As addictive as the taboo bao in The Untold Story? As traditional as the bao in Once Upon a Time in China? Well, I'd certainly like to think so, and I believe Bill will back me up on this point. (And really, after eating five bao in two days, he'd better back me up.) The recipe isn't complicated, it just takes a bit of time to complete all the steps. Well worth the effort, if you're far from a ready source of hot hum bao and need a fix.

Sauce Ingredients

2 teaspoons oyster sauce
¾ teaspoon dark soy sauce
2 teaspoons ketchup
1 ½ teaspoon sugar
Pinch of white pepper
3 tablespoons chicken broth
½ teaspoon sesame oil

Combine the sauce ingredients. Reserve.

For buns:

2 teaspoons peanut oil
1/3 cup onions, cut into ¼-inch dice
½ cup Roast Pork
1 Baked Bun Dough recipe
1 small egg, beaten
2 tablespoons Scallion Oil

Prepare Filling: Heat wok for 30 seconds over high heat. Add peanut oil and coat wok with spatula. When a wisp of white smoke appears, add onions, lower heat to low, and cook, turning occasionally, until onions turn light brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Add roast pork, raise heat, and stir-fry to combine the pork with the onions, about 1 minute. Add Shao-Hsing wine and mix well.

Lower heat, stir sauce mixture, and add to pork and onions. Stir until well mixed and sauce thickens and bubbles. Turn heat off. Remove mixture from wok and transfer to a shallow dish. Allow to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for 4 hours, uncovered, or overnight, covered.

Prepare Buns: Preheat oven to 350F. Cut 8 squares of waxed paper, 3 ½ inch on a side.

Remove dough from bowl, knead several times, then roll it out with your hands into a sausage shape 8 inches long. Divide into 8 one-inch pieces. Work with one piece at a time, keeping others under a damp cloth.

Roll each piece into a ball, then with your fingers, press to create a dome and a well.
Place 2 teaspoons of pork filling into well. Hold bun in one hand and with the other turn the bun, pinching it closed. Pressh firmly to seal. Place completed bun, sealed side down, on a square of waxed paper. Repeat until all buns are made.

Place all buns on a cookie sheet, at least 2 inches apart, to allow for expansion. Put buns in a warm place for about 1 hour to permit them to rise. Using an atomizer, spray each bun lightly with warm water. With a pastry brush, brush each bun with beaten egg.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Halfway through the baking time reverse the tray in oven. When buns are golden brown, remove them from the oven, and while still warm brush them with Scallion Oil. (As the buns cool, the crust tends to slightly harden. The brushing with Scallion Oil prevents hardening, as well as adding piquancy.) Serve immediately.

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