Chinese Pork Bao
The Chinese pork Bao is over 2,000 years old. Made before the terra cotta warriors and before the 1st Emperor of China. It has a very impressive history to say the least. In the USA every China Town has the humble Chinese pork Bao to buy.
I was on a quest to make this humble Bao for myself. As a student of Asian cooking, I sought out chefs with knowledge of traditional Chinese foods and customs. My son-in-law is Chinese and his family couldn’t give me advice on the Bao. If they want Dim Sum they will go out.
Their Chinese cooking is simple but delicious home-style recipes. Comfort foods like Congee and simple stir fry with seasonal vegetables. I chose Eileen Yin-Fei Lo as my teacher. I read her books and studied and tested every recipe. Even her grandmother’s Chinese Kitchen with 100 family recipes and life’s lessons to learn. What a rich culture, someday I hope to visit China with my daughter and son-in-law.
This recipe is adapted from Eileen Yin-Fei Lo and her grandmother.
5 tablespoon chicken stock
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon ketchup
1½ teaspoons double dark soy sauce
2½ teaspoons sugar
2¼ teaspoons cornstarch
Pinch of white pepper
1 tablespoon peanut oil
½ cup ¼ inch diced onions
¾ cups thin, 1/4 inch square Barbecued Pork slices
1½ teaspoons white rice wine
½ teaspoon sesame oil
1 package of active dry yeast (2¼ teaspoons)
⅓ cup sugar
½ cup water (100°F)
2 cups Bread flour
½ large egg, lightly beaten (the other half used for Bao)
5 tablespoons peanut oil
1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons peanut oil
In a small bowl, mix together the stock, oyster sauce, ketchup, soy sauce, sugar, cornstarch, and white pepper. Reserve to use as a sauce.
Heat a wok over high heat for 40 seconds. Add the peanut oil and, using a spatula, coat the wok with the oil. When a wisp of white appears, add the onions, lower the heat to medium, and stir for about 2 minutes, or until they turn light brown. Add the pork, raise the heat to high, and stir fry for about 2 minutes, or until well mixed.
Drizzle in the wine, add it along the edges of the wok and mix well. Stir the sauce, pour it into the wok, and stir for about 2 minutes longer, or until the mixture thickens and turns brown. Add the sesame oil and mix well.
Turn the heat off, remove the filling to a shallow dish, and let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate, uncovered, overnight until firm, then leave refrigerated until ready to use.
Prepare to fill as directed and refrigerate overnight. Leave refrigerated until ready to use.
In a large bowl, mix the yeast and sugar in the warm water, dissolving them. Set in a warm place for 30 minutes to 1 hour, or until the mixture rises and a brownish foam appears on the surface.
Add the flour, egg, and oil to the yeast mixture. Continuously stir the mixture with your hand until well mixed, them begin kneading the dough in the bowl. When the dough is cohesive, sprinkle a work surface lightly and continue to knead, picking up the dough with a dough scraper and sprinkling flour on the work surface as needed to prevent sticking, for about 15 minutes, or until smooth and elastic.
Place the dough in a large bowl, cover the towel with a damp cloth, set in a warm place, and let the dough rise for 2 to 4 hours, or until tripled in size.
Cut sixteen 3½-inch squares of waxed paper and place the squares in a single layer on a baking sheet. Remove the dough from the bowl to a floured work surface, and knead it several times until it becomes elastic. Using your palms, roll the dough into a log 16 inches long. Cut the log into 1-inch pieces. Roll each piece into a ball. Work with 1 ball at a time and keep the others covered with the damp cloth. Press down lightly on the ball with your palm, then use your finger to shape it into a dome with an indentation at the center.
Hold the dough in one hand and place 1 tablespoon of the filling in the indentation with the other hand. Gather the edges of the dough over the filling and pinch the top closed, pressing firmly to seal. If there is excess dough, pinch it off. Turn the bun over ad place, sealed Side down, on a waxed-paper square. The top will be smooth. Repeat to make 16 buns in all. The buns should be 2 inches apart on the baking sheet to allow for expansion. Place the buns in a warm place for 1 hour, or until they rise to half again their size. About 20 minutes before the buns are ready, preheat the oven to 350°F.
Spray the buns with a fine mist of warm water, then brush with the beaten egg. Place in oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until browned. About halfway through the baking time, rotate the baking sheet front to back to ensure even browning.
Remove from oven. The buns tend to cool quickly and their curst harden. To keep them soft brush them with peanut oil. Serve warm.
Accompany options with buns are chili sauce or hot mustard chili sauce.
Recipe from Mastering The Art Of Chinese Cooking, by Eileen Yin-Fei Lo