Saturday, January 4, 2014

Jing Char Siu Bau -- Steamed Pork Buns (Part 4 of 4)

And Now for the Finale!  Jing Char Siu Bau

This is it -- the part you have been waiting for:  assembling the bau, steaming them, and enjoying the results.

Your dough should be nearly done resting, the filling is made and is nearby with a spoon in it, and you have some sort of steaming area set up, with the water at a low simmer.  The wax paper squares are cut and handy.

To Prepare Buns (see page 67 of The Dim Sum Book by Eileen Yin-Fei Lo)

1. Roll Steamed Bun Dough into a cylindrical piece 16 inches long.  Cut into 16 1-inch pieces.

2. Roll each piece into a ball.  Work with one piece at a time; cover those pieces not being used with a damp cloth.

3. Press ball of dough down lightly; then, working with fingers of both hands, press dough into a domelike shape.

4. Place 2 tablespoons of filling (*author notes to use 1 tablespoon when you are first starting, until you are used to handling the dough) in center of well that has been created.  Close and pleat dough with fingers until filling is completely enclosed.

5. Put buns on squares of wax paper, 2 1/2 by 2 1/2 inches, and place in steamer at least 2 inches apart, to allow for expansion.

6. Steam for 15 to 20 minutes; serve immediately.

These may be frozen after cooking and will keep 2 to 3 months.  To reheat, defrost thoroughly and steam for 8 to 10 minutes.

My Notes

You can roll the dough out by hand -- no rolling pin necessary.
Both the flat one and the ball.  Maybe the flat one could be thinner.

Too much filling for the size of the dough.

The first batch ready for steaming.  On the second, I put in four buns per level.
Heavenly buns.  The bottom two look like those in restaurants.
Mine all came out ready after 15 minutes of steaming.  The sides looked somewhat dry and the balls were puffy.  There was a little steam coming out of the bamboo baskets but not a lot of it.

The Verdict

Success!  These tasted just like the ones I've had in the dim sum restaurants:  slightly doughy and also sweet and savory.  Lovely!  My first few did not have the filling-to-dough ratio I was used to at the restaurants but the later ones did as I got more confident at filling them.

A cut-away view
When the author says, "pleat the dough," I had a hard time at first so the buns came out as smooth balls once steamed.  But I learned that after I had sealed in the filling, I could pinch the dough to make the pleats -- 5 in a star pattern was perfect -- and the final result looked just like what I've had in the restaurants.

Please don't let the four-part posting and the number of ingredients scare you away from making this lovely dish.  It is less work than you might think; you can spread that work out over several days if you want, and still have excellent results.

The leftovers refrigerated well when covered so they couldn't dry out.  I reheated them in the microwave while covered with a damp paper towel.

A bit of history of dim sum:  Wikipedia tells us that
Dim sum is usually linked with the older tradition from yum cha (tea tasting), which has its roots in travelers on the ancient Silk Road needing a place to rest. ...  The unique culinary art of dim sum originated with the Cantonese in southern China, who over the centuries transformed yum cha from a relaxing respite to a loud and happy dining experience. ... While dim sum (literally meaning: touch the heart) was originally not a main meal, only a snack, and therefore only meant to touch the heart, it is now a staple of Cantonese dining culture, especially in Hong Kong.
Chinese New Year is coming up on January 31.  Why not make up a batch or two to celebrate?

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