When I lived in Toronto, I learned how to make Chinese steamed pork buns from my Korean-Chinese friend, Ms. Bong.
Ms. Bong’s story relating to this food fascinated me for a while. She said:
“We used to make a large quantity at once, enough to eat for the whole winter. We kept hundreds of steamed pork buns in earthenware pots in the yard. The weather was so cold that the buns were frozen the whole winter, until we finished them. They were hard as stones the whole time. We ate them every other day, not as a snack, but as a meal. We used to bring some frozen buns to the kitchen, thaw them out, steam them, and eat them.”
I was overwhelmed by this story. I could picture them making the buns and keeping them in a huge earthenware pot. I could imagine them bringing some to their kitchen, thawing them out, and eating them with the whole family! Ms. Bong said they usually served them with rice porridge for a meal.
The small rolling pin that I use in this video was given to me by her. When she gave me the rolling pin, I was so excited that I ran to Chinatown to buy my steamer! The steamer has been one of my most precious kitchen items for 3 years. : )
I modified the filling to be more like a Korean style filling. Real Chinese steamed buns use ground pork, dried shrimp, chives, and blanched napa cabbage.
16 steamed pork buns (6-8 servings)
All purpose flour, dry yeast, water, kosher salt, sugar, and vegetable oil.
Ground pork, soy sauce, toasted sesame oil, sugar, black ground pepper, garlic, onion, zucchini, carrot, green onions (or Asian chives), and white mushrooms.
Make the dough:
- In a large bowl add 1 cup of warm water (under 40° Celsius, or 100° F), 2 ts dry yeast, ½ ts kosher salt, 2 tbs vegetable oil, and 1 ts sugar. Mix well until the dry yeast is fully dissolved.
- Add 3 cups of flour to the yeast water. Mix with a wooden spoon, then knead for 2-3 minutes.
- Set aside in warm place until the dough doubles in size.
*tip: watch the video to see how you can make your dough rise faster!
- After the dough has risen, knead it again for 1 minute to remove any extra gas. Set it aside in warm place with the lid closed for 30 minutes.
While we wait for this to rise, we can prepare the fillings:
- In a large bowl, place:
- 1 cup chopped onion
- ½ cup chopped carrot
- 1½ cup chopped zucchini
- 1½ cup chopped green onions
- 2 cups chopped white mushrooms
- Sprinkle 1 ts kosher salt over top and mix it up by hand. Set aside for 10-15 minutes.
- Squeeze the excess water out.
*tip: using cheesecloth will make this easier. Wrap the chopped vegetables in cheesecloth and gently squeeze the water out.
- In a mixing bowl, place:
- 400 grams (14 oz) of ground pork
- 1 ts soy sauce
- 2 cloves of minced garlic
- 1 ts toasted sesame oil
- ½ ts ground black pepper
- Mix it by hand and set aside.
- In a heated pan, add 1 tbs vegetable oil and sauté the chopped vegetables for 2-3 minutes. Transfer them to a large bowl.
- Heat up the pan again, and cook the seasoned pork for 3 minutes until fully cooked.
- Put the pork into the bowl with the vegetables and mix it all up.
Now let’s make the buns:
- Split the dough into 16 smaller pieces.
- Take a few dough balls and put them on a floured cutting board. The rest of balls should be in the bowl with the lid closed, to prevent them from getting dried out.
- Roll out each ball into a disk 4 inches (10 cm) in diameter.
- Place a disk into your palm and add 2-3 tbs of filling mixture to the center of it.
- Lift the edges of the disk up around the filling, then press the edges together to seal the filling snugly inside the bun.
- Repeat with the remaining dough and filling, until you’ve made 16 buns.
- Put 6-7 cups of water in the bottom of a large steamer and place each bun on the rack.
*tip: Place cheesecloth or cotton cloth on the steamer rack before adding each bun. Baking cups also work well. When you place the buns on the rack, leave a 1 inch gap between them because they will get bigger when steamed.
- Wait for 20 more minutes to let the dough rise even more.
- Bring to a boil over high heat, and steam for 20 minutes.
- Combine ⅓ cup soy sauce, 2 tbs of vinegar, and 2 ts sugar in a small bowl.
- Add some chunks of onion (½ cup), chunks of green chili pepper, and roasted sesame seeds.
When the buns are cooked, turn off the heat and remove the lid to prevent water from the top of the lid from dripping over the buns.
Serve with the dipping sauce, and enjoy!