I have a goal of becoming a bun gun. That’s right, a dumpling king. It’s going to take years of practice so I might as well get started. Neil Perry’s Spice Temple is my guide. It has a great array of different kinds of dumplings with recipes for dough and filling. The other night I made these northern-style buns.
The filling is made from pork belly braised in a kind of master stock and then shredded and mixed with reduced cooking sauced, thickened with potato starch. The recipe said to simmer for 20 mins but mine took closer to 90 mins to become soft.
But this post is all about the bun itself. The recipe requires Hong Kong flour. I had no idea what this was, and after some research, found out that it is low in protein, lower even that 00 flour, but that would be a good substitute. However in the baking section of your supermarket, you will hopefully find this Lighthouse brand flour for Cake, Sponge and Steamed Bun! Yes! I’m sure that there is actual Hong Kong flour is Asian supermarkets, but this will do for now. You’ll note that it is self-raising flour.
Making the buns
The recipe is as follows and supposedly makes enough for 30 buns. I made half the quantity as there are only two of us.
500g or 3 1/2 cups of flour
1 tsp caster sugar
1 tsp dried yeast
300ml warm water
Sift flour and sugar into a bowl.
Dissolve yeast in water. Stir into the flour and mix together. Knead on the bench for 10 minutes (or put it into the bread machine as I did.)
Wrap in cling film and rest for 10 minutes.
Punch down the dough and knead for another five minutes.
The recipe says to divide into golf-sized balls. I made 16 that were smaller than golf balls. How big is a golf ball these days anyway?
Roll out each ball to 10cm diameter. The recipe said to fill with 2 tablespoons of filling, but my amount was more like 2 heaped teaspoons.
I’ve not had lessons in how to make these things. I should look on Youtube. Anyway I pull up the edges and then try to crimp/fold around the diameter and then at the end twist the top together. They’re not perfect but they’re OK. Leave them for 5 minutes to rise a bit.
Cooking the buns
So for the first time ever I managed to get my buns cooked properly! These are cooked in a frypan. You start with a thin film of oil. When it is hot, add the buns. I’ve finally learned not to moved them. I’ve worried about them sticking before, but by moving them I’ve torn the base. When the base is cooked properly it will come off.
Let the dumplings cook in the oil for about a minute, then add chicken stock. The recipes all say to add the liquid 1/4 of the height of the bun. Do they mean the whole bun or the body of the bun? I have no idea. I put in a bit less stock than usual. (See how precise this is?)
We have a glass lid for the pan, so I used that in order to let me watch the level of hear. I simmered them on medium heat until the stock had nearly all evaporated. The stock needs to be bubbling or it won’t evaporate.P reviously I would have taken the lid off a lot and tried to move them around so they wouldn’t stick. Don’t do that. I think they took 6-8 minutes.
Take off the lid and let them cook longer till the liquid disappears and then a little longer. Previously I’ve chickened out, but this time I just let it burn a way and then cook a little longer. Finally I have steamed buns with crispy bottoms!
The pan will need a clean before you do a second batch.
Anyway, this blog is my reminder to myself about bun making. Have a go. Put whatever you like inside them, but pork belly is sensational.