Let’s make kkotppang this time! Kkot is “flower” in Korean and ppang is “bread” or “buns”. I love the cute name: kkotppang kkotppang, I can’t stop saying it! : )
I first learned about kkotppang when I lived in Columbia, Missouri in the 1990s. Our Korean expat group used to have a potluck meeting. The expats came from all over Korea, so it was a good chance for me to taste some regional Korean dishes. Someone brought kkotppang one day, and I had never seen them before so I was really curious about the buns. She said she bought them from a Korean grocery store.
I found out it was a Chinese-Korean dish. Chinese immigrants living in Korea have developed all kinds of Koreanized Chinese recipes like jjajangmyeon, jjamppong, and tangsuyuk, dishes inspired by Chinese recipes but modified to Koreans’ taste using ingredients in Korea. Koreans eat kkotppang as a side dish with stir-fried meat and green chili peppers or chives. We wrap the items in soft kkotppang and eat them. You can do the same thing and wrap dishes like bulgogi or spicy stir-fried pork in kkotppang and pop them in your mouth!
At home, after tasting the kkotppang at that party in Missouri, I tried to recreate them in many ways. After a lot of experiments I succeeded in making pretty flower-shaped, wrinkly, fluffy buns. I still remember it! “Yay, I can make kkotppang!” I said. I hope you feel the same way when you make these bun. Enjoy their fluffiness!
- ¾ cup warm water
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Make the dough
- Combine warm water, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Stir and mix to dissolve the sugar and salt. Add the dry yeast and let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes until the yeast gets foamy.
- Add 2 cups flour and mix well with a wooden spoon until it turns into a lump. Knead the dough by hand for a minute.
- Cover and let it sit on the kitchen counter for 1 hour to 1½ hours, until the dough doubles in size.
- Deflate the dough and then knead for a minute. Cover and let it sit for another hour.
Shape the dough
- Deflate the dough and knead it until it’s smooth. Shape it into a nice smooth ball. Use the remaining 2 tablespoons of flour to dust your dough and cutting board.
- Sprinkle some flour on the board and place the dough ball on top of. Roll it out with a rolling pin into a flat rectangle about 13 inches wide (33 cm) and 14 inches (35 cm) deep.
- Brush about 1 tablespoon vegetable oil all over the dough except for a 1 inch strip on the far end. And sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sugar.
- Roll the sheet up to the un-oiled edge and then pinch the edge to seal it to the roll. Flip it over so the sealed side is down and cut the roll into 6 to 7 equal sized pieces.
- Brush a chopstick (or wooden skewer) with the leftover vegetable oil. Set the chopstick on the middle a piece of dough and then press down, shaping the roll into a flower bloom. Put it on the steamer basket lined with wet cotton cloth or steamer liner.
- Repeat with the rest of the dough pieces, spacing them 1 inch part so they have room to expand.
- Let them rise for 30 to 40 minutes.
- Meanwhile, fill your steamer with about 2½ inches of water and bring to a boil. Turn off and wait until the dough has totally risen.
Steam the buns
- When the dough is ready, reheat the water in the steamer and put the steamer basket with the buns inside. Put a large cotton cloth under the lid so that the water doesn’t drip back down onto the buns.
- Cover and steam over medium high heat for 10 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and serve right away.
- You can freeze some leftover buns. When you serve them again, steam them for 10 minutes to make them fluffy again. Or put them in the microwave for 1 minute.