I've always wanted an excuse to buy a bamboo steamer and I finally gave in to give this Steamed Pork Buns recipe a try.
Before we began the dough for these buns, we followed the directions by first preparing the pork so it would have time to chill out*. Simply dusted with five-spice powder, the pork is grilled (feel free to use your favorite method, a grill pan, real grill or a table-top appliance like the Griddler). As with most meats, you'll want to give the tenderloin plenty of time to rest so the juices don't gush out when you slice into it. To finish up the filling, the tender pieces are tossed with green onions, hoisin sauce, rice vinegar, soy sauce, a dribble of honey, garlic and fresh pungent ginger. *One note - I found there was plenty of time while the dough was resting that you could easily just cook the pork once the dough was prepared and save yourself some downtime.
Onto said dough. This one is a little interesting... while it is a yeast based dough, once it has risen and been punched down, baking powder is kneaded in. This gives the buns an extra boost with rising in the hot steamy environment and allows them to be quite light in texture. The dough was easy to work - when you fill them and bring the ends up to enclose the pork mixture, be sure to give it a little twist to ensure a complete seal. Since our steamer is a little on the smaller side, I was only able to steam 8 of the 12 buns as the trays would have been too full. If you have the same issue, just set the filled buns aside and do them in a couple batches. Instead of that, we just froze the extras well wrapped - to cook them, just put them into the steamer frozen and add an extra 5 minutes or so.
I should have known better, but since I've never worked with bamboo steamers before, I didn't put anything down on the bottom on the tray... so our buns did stick a little. I was able to coax them out though without much tearing, but I'm sure it will be a pain to clean them now. I suggest adding a cabbage leaf or a round of parchment paper so you don't have this problem! I loved how these were more study than ordinary dumplings and could easily be eaten out of hand without falling apart. The filling was well balanced flavor-wise and the texture was moist without being wet. My one comment about these buns is there seemed to be a bit too much of the dough, compared to the filling, (a little too "bread-y" near the bottom) which took a little of the wind out of the delicious savory filling.
Steamed Pork Buns