WARNING: Picture Heavy Post
I’ve been doing quite a bit of cooking from my freezer these days due to necessity. No money and lots of free time means I can get creative.
I love dim sum and one of my favourite dishes is char siu bao or Chinese bbq’d pork buns. I was going to use the Korean pork tenderloin for a filling but I was too lazy to do so when I had a container of Jamaican beef patty filling in the freezer, so I used that instead. I ended up making 2 batches (24 buns total) to use up all the thawed filling. Next time I’ll try for something more traditional with my own Chinese bbq’d pork. The buns were a definite winner.
Char Siu Bao Dough – makes 12 x 1 1/2 oz buns
2 1/4 tsp (1 package) of dried yeast
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup warm water
2 cups (280 gm/10 oz) plain flour
1 egg, slightly beaten
3 tbsp oil
1/2 tsp salt
Egg wash: 1 egg beaten with 1 tsp cold water
Shaping the Buns:
Place the sugar and warm water in a small bowl, mix until the sugar has dissolved. Add yeast and leave it for 10 – 15 minutes until it becomes all frothy.
Sift flour into a large bowl.
Add the yeast mixture, beaten egg, oil and salt and stir. Bring the flour mixture together with a fork or your hands.
Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead for approximately 10 minutes. Use as little flour as possible for kneading. The dough should be smooth and slightly elastic.
Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a damp cloth. Leave to rise until it is double in size. This will take from 1 – 2 hours depending on the temperature in your kitchen.
Once dough has doubled in size transfer to a working surface over which you’ve scattered some flour. Deflate the dough a bit and divide into 12 equal portions. Shape into round balls.
You can use a rolling pin to roll out the dough to approximately 8cm (3 inches) in diameter. Then pick the piece of dough up and gently pull the edges to enlarge to about 10cm (4 inches) in diameter. (By doing this it keeps the dough slightly thicker in the centre. This means that when your buns are cooking they won’t split on the top.)
Place a good sized tbsp of filling on the dough circle. Then gather the edges and seal your bun.
NOTE: Alternatively, press the ball of dough down with the heel of your palm, put the stretched dough into your left hand and add the filling. Use the thumb of your left hand to press down on the filling while using the thumb and first two fingers of your right hand to draw the edges of the dough up around the filling.
Place the bun sealed side down on your baking sheet. Continue with the rest of the dough. (You can press down on the balls gently so the bun won’t be too bread-y on the top and the filling will more centered. See picture below. ) Once all the buns are finished, brush the surface with egg wash.
Place in a preheated oven of 400º F for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown.
The buns went well with a freshly made bowl of creamy turkey and wild rice soup.
A few other goodies made this month: Raisin butter tarts and a couple of mini pies, coconut panna cotta with a blueberry sauce or a simple apricot jam base and a quince paste garnish.
I used the extra blueberry sauce for a filling for a couple of blueberry-raspberry mini pies. The filling for the fruit pies was thickened with a cornstarch slurry and cooked together with a handful of frozen raspberries before being allowed to cool. The pastry for the tarts and pies were made with Tenderflake lard pastry from the freezer.
And lest you think it was all about the sweets … here are some other tasty dishes.
Chorizo sausage, jalapeno cheese and cheddar cornbread … with leftover turkey potato gnocchi soup
Salmon in roasted tomato and pesto marinara over fettuccine
Pork chops – either simmered in a cream of mushroom gravy or breaded and pan fried
And then, there’s always a pizza or two. In this case, the last of the whole wheat sourdough dough from my freezer.
Washed down with a refreshing beer, in this case a Japanese Sapporo.