Happy Dozen - Steamed Pork Buns with Prunes
June 27th, 2012

I know, I know, it’s been a while – guilty as charged. My book project is chasing me like a terrier, consuming most of my daytime (…AND nighttime – have you ever dreamt of recipes? I do!). Recipe testing and writing is dictating my schedule, and taking this part of the process as serious as I do, it’s a lengthy process. After a day’s worth of testing, more testing and writing for the blog isn’t really the first thing that comes to mind. And since I don’t want to bore you with something mediocre, today’s recipe unfortunately took a tad longer. Ok, ok, here we go.


During our recent trip to Berlin we’ve practically been living on all kinds of Asian foods and back home this craving didn’t stop. Surely, Munich may have a couple of good Asian restaurants to offer, but they certainly can not compete with the variety you will find in Berlin. Thank god for Fei Scho, which we’ve been paying a visit frequently, to make sure our dim sum consumption stays at an acceptable level. Recently though, the stacked steaming basket at the wall got me thinking… I love working with yeast dough, I love pork, I own a steaming basket… why on earth did it never occure  to me to make pork buns myself? By coincidence, I had just prepared some pulled pork the other day, so part of the filling was already sitting in my fridge…

I used Jen’s recipe as a starting point (love her recipes, they’re precise and reliable!) and went from there. These buns are rather labor intensive, yet every minute spent on them is well worth it. The dough turned out light and fluffy and my pork-prune filling went straight in my favorites’ book. Pondering about your next kitchen project? This could be it!

Start by preparing the filling: since we had plenty of pulled pork from a slow-cooked pork shoulder (cooked with some onions, carrots and a lot of spices for about 8 hours on low, then shred with fingers once cooled down), I used the leftovers for these buns.
In a bowl mix the pulled pork with the chopped prunes, then season with kejap manis, oyster sauce, chili oil, muscovado and finally add broth and corn starch. Adapt the filling’s taste until well seasoned, it will be tucked away inside a rather neutral yeast dough, so it needs some serious punch! Its conistency should be juicy yet firm enough for a filling. Cover and refrigerate until ready to fill the buns.
(You never prepared pulled pork? Then these recipes might be a good starting point.)

Prepare the dough, either by hand or with a food processor (dough hook):
Dissolve the sugar and yeast in warm water and let stand, covered, for 10 to 15 minutes until the surface looks bubbly. Meanwhile pour the flour into a large bowl, add the baking powder, the pork lard, the salt and finally the yeast liquid. Knead at low speed for about 5 minutes, the dough should come together nicely and feel smooth and elastic (if too dry, add water by the tablespoon, if to sticky, flour by the tablespoon). Shape it into a ball and cover, then let rise until almost tripled in size.

Punch it down and cut into 12 equally sized portions. I found it easiest to first shape them into balls before flattening the dough into discs with your hands – it makes for nice round shapes. Meanwhile cover the other dough portions with a damp kitchen towel to make sure they don’t dry out.

Fill the buns: Flatten one dough portion with your fingers, spoon about 1 generous teaspoon in the middle, then gather and close the edges over the filling. You can try to form a nice pattern doing so, but I wasn’t very successful at it. So I changed my mind after six buns, flipped them after closing (make sure, they are tightly sealed!) and cut a small cross on top, which I found to be a neat solution.

Steam the buns: Fill your wok with just enough water so your steamer sits on top and not in the water. Place the buns on a sheet of parchment paper and steam for about 10 minutes. Enjoy while hot!

Steamed Pork Buns with Prunes

Recipe source: inspired by Jen's buns

Active time: ~ 1,5 hours

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Ingredients (for 12 buns):

150 g pulled pork (leftovers)

25 g prunes

2 tbsp Kejap Manis

1 tbsp oyster sauce

a little chili oil (optional)

1 tsp dark Muscovado sugar

broth (whatever you have at hand)

1/2 tsp corn starch

25 g sugar

20 g fresh yeast

~200 lukewarm water

375 g all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tbsp pork lard

1/4 tsp fine sea salt

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