I love my job. I love cooking for a living, and I love the adrenalin of line cooking at a busy restaurant.
I also love getting sent home early when the amount of business does not justify the number of cooks on said line.
Since it was a Monday, the odds that I'd get cut last night were good. So, If I got cut early, I had tentative plans. Handsome & Brave, (aka H&B) and I would make dinner. I believe lamb was discussed.
Oh Joy! Oh Bliss! My day ended at 6, not 9 pm. Date time for Nancy!
Wah, wah, wah, wah.... ☹
Alas, my plans for the evening abruptly changed when H&B had a work
emergency. Bummer! But, I still needed to eat, so I decided it was about time that I tackled steamed pork buns.
I want to make buns like the ones I had at Bõken, an Isakaya restaurant (Japanese pub) in -- of all places -- Bend.
So I turned to the interweb. I d/l a grand recipe from David Chang of Momofuku. Although he is a G0d to me, I didn't have three hours to make a yeast-raised, steamed bun dough. Nor did I have the cake flour called for.
The recipe I did find is a quick dough that uses baking powder as a leavening agent. The dough itself is lovely; soft and pliant. I believe it's even softer for resting for an hour (while I chatted with H&B on the phone) rather than the 30 minutes recommended in the recipe.
The buns were wonderful. The dough was soft and easy to manipulate, but building the buns takes some skill. I rolled the first batch beautifully. Thick. I rolled second batch too thinly so the bottom stuck to the wax paper lining the steamer. Enough jibber jabber. Here's the recipe:
Steamed bun dough
2-1/4 cups AP flour
1/3 cup sugar
fat pinch salt
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 Tbsp lard (I used butter)
2/3 cup lukewarm water
Mix sifted flour, sugar, salt and baking powder.
Cut in lard or butter (if I'd had solid coconut oil, I'd have used it instead of butter).
Add water and knead until smooth (at least 5 minutes -- and I kneaded it in the bowl, occasionally 'wetting' my fingers with flour)
Rest the dough for 30 - 45 minutes. Roll into a sausage shape.
Cut in to 12 portions. flatten with fingers and roll to an even thickness, less than 1/4 inch.
The texture of the dough reminds me of the dinner rolls you buy in the cooler
of a supermarket. They come in a roll, tear off the wrapper and strike it on the counter, and Voila! You have biscuits.
Since you're reading this blog, I assume you have some familiarity with Chinese cuisine or the ability to research fillings. Go to town, fill 'em with anything that is relatively dry. You don't want soggy buns.
I used a piece of pork belly and some kimchi from the refrigerator as filling. You can use anything. Pork barbecue, cooked sausage and greens, finely chopped asparagus... I bet you could even place a spoonful of marmalade in the center and make a lovely jam bun.
The recipe yields 12 rounds of dough, three-to-four inches in diameter, about 1/4 inch thick. Put a blob of filling in the center of the round. Dampen your fingers and blot the circumference of the dough round. Pull up the sides and gather the edges like a little draw-string purse. Pinch closed.
Steam in a bamboo steamer, on a sheet of lightly oiled waxed paper or parchment paper.
I steamed filled buns for 10 minutes, dough rounds (that I folded around belly and kimchi -- a la Bõken) for 5 minutes.
----The next day.
----I had some dough left over so I rolled it, cut it with a round Ateco cutter and fluted the edges with my fingers. I filled the four rounds with sausage and chard (which I had for brekkers), leftover asparagus, orange marmalade and dried cherries, and fir cured lox, capers and cream cheese.
---45 minutes later still. WOW I love the sausage and chard bun the best. The asparagus argued with the sweetness of the dough. Not pleasant. The jam bun was OK but nothing special. The lox, caper and cream cheese one was good but again, nothing special.
I might try a Hood strawberry bun and another pork belly/kimchi bun.
Good, clean fun.