Chinese Barbecue Pork Buns

Stella has been asking about barbecue pork buns since my recent foray into bun, boa, and bing making.  I was in the International District today and decided to pick up some barbecue pork from my favorite spot, Kings Barbecue.  They have two locations, one on 6th and one on 12th Ave.  I go to the one on 6th.  If you go down, also check out Green Village next door for a quick lunch or take out.  If you go to the one on 12th, stop in at Seattle Deli for a good banh mi (Vietnamese sandwich). 

 With barbecue pork in hand, I started my research on a bun recipe.  The ones Stella likes are baked, not steamed.  After reading a dozen or so recipes on the internet, I settled on one that had the best reviews.  However, all of the measurements were in grams, so I went ahead and converted to my familiar cups, tablespoons, etc.  I went with the ole 'close enough' route.. hopefully that plays out to be true.

For the dough:

Make a roux using 2 Tbsp bread flour and 1/2 cup water
Heat the water and flour in a  shallow pan over medium heat, whisking constantly until thickened.  Once thick, cook for another minute over low heat.  Set aside until ready to use.

For the remainder of the dough:
4 cups bread flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup warm milk
1.5 tsp active dry yeast
1/4 cup cream
2 eggs
4 tbsp softened butter
I used my standing mixer with the hook attachment.  If you don't have one, using your hands works just as well, or perhaps even better.  In the bowl of the mixer, stir together the flour, sugar and salt.  In a small bowl, stir together the milk and yeast.  Let sit for about 8 minutes until it becomes a bit foamy.  Then with the mixer on low, or stirring using a wooden spoon or spatula, add the milk and yeast mixture, the cream and the eggs.  Stir to mix well, then add in the softened butter and the roux.  Continue to stir until the dough comes together.  If it feels a little dry, add a little bit more milk.  Continue to knead the dough for about 8-10 minutes until it is very smooth.  It should be soft, and slightly sticky to the touch.  With my standing mixer, I like to turn the dough out onto a large work surface and knead it with my hands for a minute or so to finish.  
Lightly oil a large bowl, put the dough inside, and cover with plastic wrap.  Let sit in a warm room for about 2 to 2.5 hours until it doubles in size.  

Meanwhile, make the filling (this made 14 buns)
1 lb barbecue pork, diced
1 small sweet onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1 tbsp rice wine
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tsp light soy
1 tsp sugar
1/4 cup water
1 tsp corn starch, mixed with 2 tsp water
In a large saute pan or wok, heat 1 tbsp oil and sauté the onion and garlic until they are almost caramelized.  Add the pork to the mixture and the wine, sesame oil, oyster sauce, soy, sugar and water.  Toss to combine and continue to sauté for a few more minutes.  Thicken with the corn starch and water mixture.  Place into a bowl and let cool before using.

Prepare one large or two small baking sheets by lining them with parchment paper and spraying with Pam.
When dough is ready, pour it out onto a large work surface.  I use a large wood block.  Knead the dough with your hands for a minute and then separate into two pieces.  Pull the dough into two long tubes.  This will make it easier to cut into smaller pieces.  Using a pastry scraper or knife, cut the dough into 22 smaller pieces.  You may choose to go with larger buns.  
Roll out each piece of dough.  I work from the outside in, rolling the edges first thereby leaving the center with a thicker dough.  This way, when you pinch the edges together, it does not form a super thick top.  Place a good spoonful of filling onto the center, then bring the edges to join and enclose.  Place the bun sealed side down on the baking sheet.  
After a few, I realized my dough to filling ratio was off.  So, I would have 8 rolls, no filling.
Let the buns / rolls rest for about 45 minutes to rise a bit again.  I was pressed for time and did not do this, but I think it needs to be done.

To bake, heat oven to 350f.  
Prepare a glaze for the top by combing 1 egg yolk, 1 tbsp water, and 1 tsp sugar.
Brush each bun / roll with the glaze.
Bake for 18-25 minutes, until they are golden brown.
The buns were delicious, but not as light and fluffy as they should have been.  They needed to rise the second time.  But still, very tasty and I will definitely make them again!


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