Saturday, January 19, 2013

Shopping From My Own Kitchen Pork Buns

Here's the second half of my Saturday big bing and bun making session.  The Street Sandwich was planned, but then I thought, while I'm at it, might as well do more.  I was already making the dough for the sandwiches, so I'll just make another batch.  For the filling, I went for a freezer dive and came up with pork I had trimmed from a couple racks of spare ribs.  After defrosting the pork, I cut it into chunks and then used the food processor to finely chop it.  Ground pork from the store would work as well.

For the dough:
3 1/4 cups bread flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 1/4 cup warm water
1 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoon grape seed oil
Dissolve the sugar in the water then add the yeast and stir gently.  Let sit for about 10 minutes until the top is frothy. In a standing mixer fitted with a dough hook, add the flour and the salt.  Stir to combine, then with the mixer on low, add the water mixture in a steady stream along with the oil.  Knead the dough on low for about 5-6 minutes until the dough is well combined and smooth.  If the dough does not come together well, you may need to add a bit more water.  If the dough is too wet, add more flour.  It should be wet to the touch, but not too sticky.
Take the dough out and knead with your hands until smooth.  It should only take a minute or two.  Lightly oil a bowl and place the dough inside.  Cover with a damp towel and let sit to rise for about 3 hours.  
If you are not yet ready to use the dough, cover and refrigerate it, and take out of the refrigerator about 30 minutes before using.

For the pork filling:
2 lbs ground pork
One 8 oz can water chestnuts, finely chopped
1 cup dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in water until softened, finely chopped, liquid reserved
2 tablespoons finely minced ginger
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
6 scallions, finely sliced
3 tablespoons light soy sauce

2 tablespoons rice wine
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/2 cup liquid from shiitake mushrooms
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 tablespoon corn starch

Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.  Cover and refrigerate for several hours.

To make the buns:
Divide the dough into 20 equal pieces, about 1 1/2 ounce each. Reform each piece into a round.  Use as much flour as you need to work with the dough.  Cover the pieces you are not working with with a clean kitchen towel.
Roll the dough out, place a large spoonful of the filling into the middle, and pull the dough over the filling and pinch at the top to form a bun.
To cook the buns, use a heavy cast iron skillet.
Heat the skillet over medium high heat.  Add enough oil to coat the bottom of the skillet.
Place the buns in the skillet and fry the bottom until just hardened and slightly golden brown.
Make sure the buns are not touching each other, or they may stick together during cooking and tear apart when you try to remove them from the skillet.
Put 3/4 cup hot water into the skillet and cover and cook until water is evaporated.
Uncover the skillet and continue to fry the bottoms of the buns until they are deep golden brown.
Serve them immediately.  With any left over buns, you can freeze them and rewarm them in the microwave for a snack for school lunch.  

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