Wont lie, these were a fair bit of work, but it was totally worth it in the end!
1 Tablespoon Dry Active Yeast
1 Teaspoon Sugar
1/4 Cup Flour
1/4 Cup Warm Water
1/2 Cup Flour
1/2 Cup Warm Water
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
2 Tablespoons Sugar
1 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil Plus Extra to coat dough
1/2 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 Pound Pork loin, ground or you can fry a whole cutlet and chop it after
2-4 Cloves Garlic
2-3 Tablespoons Rice Vinegar
2-3 Tablespoons Hoisin Sauce
2-3 Tablespoons Ketchup
2-3 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
1-2 Tablespoons Honey
2 Tablespoons Mirin
2-3 Tablespoons Chinese Five Spice Powder
Large Lettuce or cabbage leaves to create a nice base to steam the buns upon.
Bamboo steamer, or another steamer large enough to give the buns about an inch of space apart and about 2 inches of rise room above.
Red Food Coloring*
*To make it look more like the take out buns. I do not bother adding fake color to my food ever. This is also why I have no recipe for anything "red velvet" flavor, because the plain chocolate version is always better. Boooooo to extra food coloring. But if you want it, feel free to do what you like in your own kitchen
In a small bowl mix together the ingredients for the marinade. Finely mince or grate the garlic and stir in the rice vinegar, Hoisin sauce, ketchup, soy sauce, honey, mirin(Or white sugar), and the Chinese Five Spice. Stir well to mix evenly. Stir in the food coloring if you want to.
Reserve about 1/4 Cup of the marinade sauce and set in the fridge for the time being.
Marinade the pork in the remaining marinade mixture for at least 3 hours, or overnight.
In a large bowl stir together the yeast, 1 teaspoon of sugar, 1/4 cup of flour and 1/4 cup of warm water. Set aside and allow the yeast to activate for 30 minutes.
Sift together the remaining 1 1/2 cups of flour with the salt, and 2 tablespoons of sugar.
After the yeast has activated for 30 minutes stir in the sifted flour mixture along with the 1/2 cup of warm water and 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
Turn out dough on a lightly floured work surface and knead until dough is smooth, elastic and evenly blended together. This takes at least 5 minutes but usually closer to 10 minutes.
Lightly oil the surface of the dough ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with a clean kitchen towel that has been soaked in water and wrung out. Set to rise for 2 1/2 to 3 hours.
While the dough is rising, cook the pork loin. I used pork chops, and quick fried them in my cast iron skillet on the stove, and then chopped the cooked pork chops into small bits. But if you used ground pork, you can drain off the excess marinade and scramble fry the pork in a skillet. Either way you want to end up with marinaded meat that is fully cooked at the end!
After the dough has risen, uncover and gently punch down the center of the dough and allow it to rest for 10 minutes.
Turn out the dough on a lightly floured work surface and flatten gently. Sprinkle the baking powder over top of the dough and knead for 5 minutes.
Set up your steamer and bring it to a rolling boil. Ensure that about 1-2 inches of water remain in the water pot at all times while steaming.
Divide the dough in half. Cover the half that is not being worked with with the damp kitchen towel.
Divide the dough half into 8-10 ping-pong ball sized sections. Flatten each section in your hand into a small disk, add about 1/2-1 tablespoon of filling to center of the dough, and fold the edges up. So you have a smooth bottom and then on top arrange the edges into a star or flower kind of pattern and pinch well to seal.
Finish filling the remaining divided sections.
Line the bottom of the steamer basket with lettuce or cabbage leaves. Arrange the buns on top of the leaves leaving 1-2 inches between each bun. Steam with the lid on for 15 minutes.
Repeat dividing, filling and steaming procedure with the second half of the dough.
Prepared buns can be kept warm in a barely heated oven until all the buns are cooked.
There is something that just feels right about a home made Chinese feast in January. I know it is a weird kind of tradition to have but it is one that works well for me. Plus my friends who were invited to join me also weren't complaining.
Goes well with