I love pork buns! I love the surprise of biting into one to discover the wonderful yummy filling on the inside. The simplicity of flavors that just go so well with the wonderful brown and crispy crust on the outside. I’ve also found they are addictive and you can’t stop with just one.
I do have a confession to make about my making pork buns experience. I have to admit my hubby was RIGHT (yes, I said it! ) about one part of this recipe. I wanted to make them as close to authentic as I could so I was looking around for a recipe for the dough and he just looked at me and said “why don’t you use your pizza dough recipe?” I grumbled that he wasn’t looking at it the right way, they needed to have the real dough wrapped around them. And then after looking at the recipes, I realized my pizza dough recipe was exactly the same as most of the recipes I found out there. Ugh, I sometimes hate it when he’s right, but I have to give him the credit.
Pork buns can be steamed or baked. In most Asian restaurants, the more traditional way is to steam them. I prefer the baked version because I do love the crispy crust. And the fillings are as unique as each person who cooks them.
Most of the time, the fillings are made by slow cooking pork with all the seasoning and shredding afterwards but I like to roast up a large pork shoulder or butt to use for other things as well. So instead of cooking it with the seasonings, I just pop a 4 to 5 pound pork roast into the crock pot, along with a salt, pepper and a quartered onion and just let the roast slowly cook in its own juices. It renders a tender, juicy pork that is perfect for using for pork buns, green chili, or anything you might want roast pork in. Freeze the extra for a later date.
These little guys were so easy to make and really didn’t take that much time. Yes, you have to rise the pizza dough but plan it for a two night event and you can make the dough recipe for pizza one night and pork nights the next. The crock pot did all the hard work on cooking the pork, so adding the sauce and browning the tips under the broiler was a breeze. And they were so worth it. Sweet, spicy and just plain yummy! You could serve them with a sauce but we loved them just the way they were.
Pork Bun Filling
1 lb. cooked, shredded pork shoulder roast
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. Chinese 5 spice
1 1/2 Tbsp. hoisin sauce
1 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar
2 1/2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 1/2 tsp. sesame oil
1 Tbsp. chili paste
2 scallions, sliced
Add the sesame oil to a large pan over medium high heat and cook garlic until fragrant. Add brown sugar, Chinese 5 spice, hoisin, honey, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, chili paste and bring to a boil. Simmer until sauce begins to thicken, about 8 to 10 minutes and then add pork in and toss to coat. You can stop here and use as is but to add extra flavor: place the pork and sauce on a foil coated, rimmed baking sheet and place under the broiler. Broil until you start to get browned pork pieces. Remove from oven, mix in the sliced scallions and set aside while handling dough.
To make the buns, use 1/2 of my pizza dough recipe, which is almost identical to the traditional pork bun wrapper. Roll out the dough on a floured surface to about 1/4″ thick and cut out 2 1/2″ to 3 1/2″ circles out of the dough. Another alternative method is to make small balls and roll them out individually into each circle, but the rolling out the entire dough and cutting them out all at once, saves time and is easier. Prepare a baking sheet by placing parchment paper on it.
To fill, pick up the dough circle and place it into the palm of your hand. Add about 1 tablespoon into the center, keeping about 1/2″ of the dough edge clean. Pull up the edges of the dough, forming pleats and pinch the edges together to form a closed pouch. Tuck the edges down to make a ball. Lay the pork bun, seam sides down onto the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the rest of the dough and space them about 1 1/2″ apart on the baking sheet. Cover the finished pork buns with a towel and set in a warm, draft-free place for about 30 minutes, to rise.
Preheat oven to 350° F and place the rack into the middle of the oven. Brush the tops and side of each bun with egg wash right before baking. Bake for about 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the size of your buns. To check, tap lightly on the bottom, listening for a hollow sound. Remove finished buns from the oven and allow to cool for about 5 minutes before serving warm.
Cooked buns can be frozen. To use, thaw completely before reheating.
More recipes for stuffed buns: