I love Shanghainese pan fried pork buns and every time I’m back home I have to go out to eat them at least once. They’re usually eaten for breakfast or lunch and I’ve been really craving them lately so I decided to try and figure out how to make them. I knew they wouldn’t be super easy to make and I couldn’t find any one recipe that I liked so I threw together this recipe based on about 8 others I found online and hoped for the best.
They taste really great and both Rock and I were impressed with how close they taste to the ones we get in Vancouver! The filling tastes pretty spot on. The only thing is we burned the crap outta the bottoms of the first batch and I remembered after that my mom had told me a long time ago that they’re notoriously difficult to make authentically without burning or over-browning, which would be to cook them sitting in a pan the entire time. Well, she was right cus boy did they burn. Anyway, to avoid all that and just make life easier, just take my cheater’s way which is what this recipe will tell you…!
Also we made waaay too much filling, enough for 2 dozen large buns. So here I’ve adjusted it to make a recipe for 1 dozen buns.
for the bun: 3 cups all-purpose flour / 2 and 1/4 tsp yeast / 2 tbsp sugar (plus an extra 1 tsp to proof the yeast) / ~1 cup water / 2 tbsp canola oil
for the filling: ~350 grams ground pork / 2 stalks of green onions (just the green part) / 1 and 1/2 tbsp light soy sauce (light Chinese soy sauce, not the go-to Kikkoman!) / 1/2 tbsp sugar / 1 tbsp corn starch / 1/2 tsp chicken broth powder / 1/2 tbsp finely grated ginger / a few dashes of white pepper / 1 tsp sesame oil
to pan fry: canola oil
to top/to serve: white sesame seeds / green onion / chinkiang vinegar (black rice vinegar. you can find this at the asian supermarket in Regina) / a few matchstick slices of ginger (optional)
First make the dough. Proof the yeast in a small bowl with the 1 tsp of sugar and about 1/4 cup warm water. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, oil, water and the proofed yeast. Knead the dough until it’s smooth and add more water or flour as needed. Set aside and cover with a tea towel for about 15 to 20 minutes.
Next, make up the filling. This is easy. Just get a large bowl, throw all the filling ingredients in, and mix together!
Now to make the buns. Roll the dough out into a log, about 1 foot long. Cut into 12 equal size pieces. With each piece of dough, using your hands, roll into a ball and then with a rolling pin, roll it out into a circle, about a centimetre or so thick. Put about 1 heaped tbsp of filling in the middle and then wrap the dough around the filling by pleating and pinching the sides, making sure the bun is totally sealed.
Ours definitely did not look as pretty as we had hoped for but I’m sure they’ll get better with practice! Sprinkle some sesame seeds on the tops and now it’s time to steam them.
I used a large steamer over my wok. Brush the steaming rack with a bit of oil to avoid any sticking and space the buns apart on it as they will expand quite a bit! Steam the buns over medium-high to high heat for about 11 minutes. Near the end of the steaming, heat up at least a couple centimetres of canola oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. When the buns are done steaming, transfer them to the frying pan and fry the bottoms for a couple minutes or so, until the bottoms of the buns have browned up a bit and are crispy. Drain any excess oil over some paper towel and then snip some green onion over the tops. Serve with the chinkiang vinegar with some ginger in it to dip if you want, though I think the vinegar is a vital component! Enjoy!