Char Sui Bao (Daring Cooks Challenge Dec 2011)

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Our Daring Cooks’ December 2012 hostess is Sara from Belly Rumbles! Sara chose awesome Char Sui Bao as our challenge, where we made the buns, Char Sui, and filling from scratch – delicious!

Sreamed buns are definitely one of my favourite things (along with custard creams, my alpaca blanket, and David) I was AMAZED by the variety of buns found when I was on holiday in Singapore and the Philippines, I fell in love with BreadTalk. Check out their creative names and hilarious descriptions , pity they don’t deliver to the UK.

I often make buns, playing around with different recipes that I’ve found on the net. The ones I made are unfilled, a quick way of making bread when I don’t have time to bake. The recipes for this challenge were by far the most authentic.

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My char sui aubergine resembled a large cashew, the aubergine soaked up the flavorsome marinade making this a delight to eat.

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My char sui chicken was more traditional looking. I forgot the egg wash so these turned out dull and crusty instead of enticing and glossy.

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My vegetable bun had speckels of Za’atar added to the dough

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I also made baked gluten-free char sui burger buns, which were more like small rocks. Tasted like rocks too.

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Finally, I made steamed jaffa buns this afternoon, and in the words of Nigel Slater, there’s nothing better than doing a spot of home cooking when it’s horridly wet and miserable outside, (far more enjoyable than accounts & cashflow.) Two flavoured doughs – one clementine, one chocolate and using a many fair-trade ingredients as possible. Fair-trade muscovado from Mauritius, white granulated sugar from Malawi, citrus peel (picked out of a bag of mixed dried fruit) from South Africa, cocoa from the Dominican Republic, clementines from the local farmers market. (It helps having a wonderful fair-trade shop close by). But unfortunately my flour was from Tescos, sorry! My fillings were Seed & Bean chili & lime chocolate, and Zaytoun Palastinian Medjool dates soaked in clementine juice. I have yet to try these but a reward is due after a few hours of work.

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Recipe Source: Blue Apocalypse’s recipe.
My char sui bao filling  based on Chinatown Connection

Preparation time:

  • Char sui, marinade – minimum 4 hours, best  left overnight, cooking time 30 minutes.
  • Baked char sui bao – raising time 1 – 2 hours, bun construction 20 minutes, cooking time 15 minutes.
  • Steamed char sui bao – raising time of dough 1-2 hours, bun construction 20 minutes, additional raising 20 minutes (approx), cooking time 12 minutes.

Equipment required:

For the char sui
• Bowl for mixing marinade
• Ceramic or glass dish for the meat to marinade in
• Oven or BBQ

For the baked char sui bao
• Large bowl
• Baking tray
• Wok or fry pan

For the steamed char sui bao
• Large bowl
• Wok
• Bamboo steamers
• 20cm x 8cm (8” x 3”) square pieces of baking paper

Char Sui (Cantonese BBQ Pork)

Ingredients

1 pork fillet/tenderloin (roughly 1-1.5 pounds)
4 large cloves of garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon (3 gm) ginger, grated
1 tablespoon peanut oil
1 ½ tablespoons maltose (you can substitute honey)
1 ½ tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
1 teaspoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon shaoxing cooking wine
½ teaspoon (2 gm) ground white pepper
pinch of salt
½ teaspoon (2 gm) five spice powder
½ teaspoon sesame oil
½ teaspoon pillar box red food colouring
(1 tablespoon=15 ml, 1 teaspoon=5 ml)

Directions:

  1. Trim the pork loin to remove fat and tendon and slice lengthways so you have two long pieces, then cut in half. By cutting the pork in to smaller pieces to marinate you will end up with more flavoursome char sui. If you want to leave the pork in one piece you can do this as well. Place in container that you will be marinating them in.
  2. Combine all the other ingredients in a bowl and mix well to combine. I placed my maltose in the microwave for a few seconds to make it easier to work with. Maltose is quite a solid hard sticky substance.
  3. Cover pork well with ⅔ of the marinade mixture. Marinate for a minimum of 4 hours, I find it is best left to marinate overnight. Place the reserved ⅓ portion of the marinade covered in the fridge. You will use this as a baste when cooking the pork.

Cooking Method 1 – Oven This is the first way that I experimented with cooking the char sui.

  1. Pre-heat oven to moderate 180˚C/350°F/gas mark 4.
  2. Cover a baking tray with foil or baking paper. Place on top of this a rack on which to cook the pork.
  3. Place pork on the rack and place in oven.
  4. Bake for approximately 10 minutes, basting and turning.
  5. Turn the heat up to moderately hot 200˚C/400°F/gas mark 6 for the final 20 minutes as this will aid the charring. Cook until cooked through.

Cooking Method 2 – Seared in pan & then into the oven
On reading more I discovered this method, it was meant to give a better charred finish. Not sure that it did give a “better” result, but the pork was a lot more moist.

  1. Pre-heat oven to moderate 180˚C/350°F/gas mark 4.
  2. Cover a baking tray with foil or baking paper. Place on top of this a rack on which to cook the pork.
  3. Place pork in a hot frying pan or wok. Sear it quickly so it is well browned
  4. Remove from pan/wok and place pork on the rack and place in oven.
  5. Bake for approximately 15 minutes, basting and turning until cooked through.

Cooking Method 3 – BBQ This method I feel gave the best result. If you have access to a BBQ use it. The pork had a better BBQ flavour and was also very moist.

  1. Place marinated pork loin on the grill of your BBQ
  2. Cook on a medium heat, approximately 15 minutes, until cooked through.
  3. Be careful to watch that you don’t burn the pork.

Char Sui (Cantonese BBQ Pork) Alternative marinade without red food colouring or maltose

Ingredients

1 teaspoon (6 gm) salt
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
1 teaspoon (3 gm) ground white pepper
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons (30 gm/1 oz) sugar
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon shaoxing cooking wine
1 teaspoon (3 gm) five spice
(1 tablespoon=15 ml, 1 teaspoon=5 ml)

Directions:

  1. Trim the pork loin to remove fat and tendon and slice lengthways so you have two long pieces, then cut in half. Place in container that you will be marinating them in.
  2. Combine all the other ingredients in a bowl and mix well to combine.
  3. Cover pork well with ⅔ of the marinade mixture. Marinate for a minimum of 4 hours, I find it is best left to marinate overnight. Place the reserved ⅓ portion of the marinade covered in the fridge. You will use this as a baste when cooking the pork.
  4. Follow the desired cooking method from the previous recipe.

Baked Char Sui Bao (Cantonese BBQ Pork Bun)

Servings: 12Filling Ingredients

350 gm (12 oz) char sui (finely diced)
2 green onions/spring onions (finely sliced)
1 tablespoon hoisin
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
¼ cup (60 ml) chicken stock
1 teaspoon (2 gm) cornflour
½ tablespoon vegetable oil
(1 tablespoon=15 ml, 1 teaspoon=5 ml)

Dough Ingredients

2½ teaspoons (8 gm/1 satchel) of dried yeast
¼ cup (55 gm/2 oz) sugar
½ cup warm water
2 cups (280 gm/10 oz) plain flour
1 egg (medium size – slightly beaten)
3 tablespoons oil
½ teaspoon (3 gm) salt
Egg wash: 1 egg beaten with a dash of water
(1 cup=240 ml, 1 tablespoon=15 ml, 1 teaspoon=5 ml)

Filling Directions:

  1. Heat the vegetable oil in a wok or pan.
  2. Add diced char sui to the wok/pan and stir then add spring onions, cook for 1 minute.
  3. Add hoisin, dark soy sauce and sesame oil to the pork mixture, stir fry for one minute.
  4. Mix cornflour and stock together and then add to the pork mixture.
  5. Stir well and keep cooking until the mixture thickens, 1 or 2 minutes.
  6. Remove mixture from wok/pan and place in a bowl to cool. Set aside until ready to use.

Bun Directions:

  1. Place the sugar and warm water in a bowl, mix until the sugar has dissolved. Add yeast and leave it for 10 – 15 minutes until it becomes all frothy.
  2. Sift flour in to a large bowl.
  3. Add yeast mixture, egg, oil and salt and stir. Bring the flour mixture together with your hands.
  4. Place dough on a lightly floured surface and knead for approximately 10 minutes. The dough should be smooth and slightly elastic.
  5. Place 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 weather conditions.
  6. Once dough has doubled in size knock back and divide in to 12 portions and shape in to round balls.
  7. Use a rolling pin to roll out to approximately 5cm (2 inches) in diameter. Then pick the piece of dough up and gently pull the edges to enlarge to about 8cm (3 inches) in diameter. By doing this it keeps the dough slightly thicker in the centre. This means when your buns are cooking they won’t split on the tops.
  8. Place a good sized tablespoon of filling on the dough circle. Then gather the edges and seal your bun.
  9. Place the bun seal side down on your baking tray. Continue with rest of dough.
  10. Once all buns are complete brush surface with egg wash.
  11. Place in a preheated oven of 200º C/392º F for 15 minutes or until golden brown

Steamed Char Sui Bao (Cantonese BBQ Pork Bun)

Servings: 20Filling Ingredients

350 gm (12 oz) char sui (finely diced)
2 shallots (finely diced)
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
¼ cup (60 ml) chicken stock
1 teaspoon (3 gm) cornflour
½ tablespoon vegetable oil

Bun Ingredients

1 cup milk, scalded
¼ cup (60 gm/2 oz) sugar
1 tablespoon oil
¼ teaspoon (2 gm) salt
2½ teaspoons (8 gm/1 satchel) of dried yeast
3 cups (420 gm/15 oz) plain flour
(1 cup=240 ml, 1 tablespoon=15 ml, 1 teaspoon=5 ml)

Filling Directions:

  1. Heat the vegetable oil in a wok or pan. Sauté the shallots for one or two minutes until soft.
  2. Add diced char sui to the wok/pan and stir.
  3. Add oyster sauce, dark soy sauce and sesame oil to the pork mixture, stir fry for one minute.
  4. Mix cornflour and stock together and then add to the pork mixture.
  5. Stir well and keep cooking until the mixture thickens, 1 or 2 minutes.
  6. Remove mixture from wok/pan and place in a bowl to cool. Set aside until ready to use.

Bun Directions:

  1. Scald milk and then stir in sugar, oil and salt, leave to cool until it is lukewarm. Once it is the right temperature add yeast, leave until yeast is activated and it becomes frothy, about 10 – 15 minutes.
  2. Sift flour in to a large bowl.
  3. Add milk/yeast mixture to the flour. Bring the flour mixture together with your hands.
  4. Place dough on a lightly floured surface and knead for approximately 10 minutes. The dough should be smooth and slightly elastic.
  5. Place 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 weather conditions.
  6. Punch down dough and divide in to 20 equal portions.
  7. Roll each dough portion in to a 7 – 8cm (2¾ – 3 ¼ inches) round.
  8. Place 1 tablespoon of filling in the centre of the round, gather the edges together at the top and place on a 8cm (3 inch) square of baking paper. Repeat until all dough has been used.
  9. Cover and let rise for 20 minutes.
  10. Place buns in bamboo steamer, leaving space between the buns.
  11. Heat water in a wok until it is simmering and place steamers one on top of each other in the wok.
  12. Place lid on top bamboo steamer and steam for approximately 12 minutes.

Mushroom Filling for Baked Buns

Ingredients

2 cups (170 gm/6 oz) Swiss brown mushrooms (finely diced) (alternatively button, Roman brown, Italian brown, Crimini)
1 cup (90 gm/3 oz) Shitake mushrooms (finely diced)
2½ cups (225 gm/8 oz) flat/field mushrooms (finely diced)
(alternatively Portabella mushrooms)
2 shallots (finely diced)
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon hoisin
1 teaspoon sesame oil
¼ cup vegetable stock
1 teaspoon (3 gm) cornflour
½ tablespoon vegetable oil
(1 cup=240 ml, 1 tablespoon=15 ml, 1 teaspoon=5 ml)

Directions:

  1. Heat the vegetable oil in a wok or pan. Sauté the shallots for one or two minutes until soft
  2. Add the mushrooms to the onions in the wok/pan. Cook until mushrooms have rendered down and most of the liquid from the mushrooms has evaporated.
  3. Add soy sauce, oyster sauce, hoisin and sesame oil, cook for another few minutes.
  4. Mix cornflour and stock together and then add to the mushroom mixture.
  5. Stir well and keep cooking until the mixture thickens, 1 or 2 minutes.

Remove mixture from wok/pan and place in a bowl to cool. Set aside until ready to use

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5 responses to “Char Sui Bao (Daring Cooks Challenge Dec 2011)

  1. I’m really delighted to rank alongside alpaca blankets and custard creams! That BreadTalk website was hilarious and brought back memories of our SIngapore/Philippines adventure. These were delightful buns that covered a range of flavors and shapes. It was good to have the buns heated up on these cold days. The selection of fairtrade ingredients you used was impressive. The chill chocolate is the strongest I’ve ever tried – not for the faint hearted!

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