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Korean BBQ pork buns (like the ones they sell at the Korean bakeries)


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Korean BBQ pork buns (like the ones they sell at the Korean bakeries)

Serves 10 as Main Dish.

To start off, these pork buns are very similar to Chinese pork buns (Char Siu Bao), but they're baked instead of steamed

Korean Bakeries have always been a favorite of mine. The delicous buns, filled with sweet or savory fillings are so hard to resist.

For the longest time, I've been trying to figure out how to achieve that soft, perfectly textured 'baked' bun dough they use, but I never had much luck. I tried many soft bun and dinner roll recipes, but it was never like the bun dough at those bakeries. The top would crisp a little too much, (even when I tried baking them at lower temperature or for less time), or the flavor and/or texture just wasn't right. I can't tell you how many times I practically begged for their secrets, but just got responses along the lines of "Not sure", or "It's just bread dough". 'Just bread dough??' Umm, yes,I know, but what do you put in it besides yeast, liquid (milk? water?) and flour? LOL

One day, I received an issue of Relish Magazine in the mail. In it was a recipe for soft dinner rolls. Not even thinking about the Korean buns, it was simply a dinner roll I wanted to try. After tweaking it a tiny bit (I prefer whole milk to low fat in all recipes, unless I feel it's absolutely necessary to use low fat, after testing/tasting it), and baking/tasting the rolls, I knew instantly that this one could be IT, and I just HAD to pair this dough with the Char Siu like pork in Korean BBQ sauce, to see if I could come any closer to recreating those lovely, soft, flavorful buns. Lo and behold, I nailed it.

That said, when it comes to portioning the dough and how much filling to use, I kind of just eyeball it, but I'll do my best to be as precise as I can with the instructions, based on estimations. You don't want to use too much dough for each bun, as they need to rise, and you would end up with a bun that's too 'bready' when opposed to the BBQ pork filling. On the flip side, you don't want too little bun dough, and too much pork filling, as it would probably split open upon rising and/or baking.

For the BBQ pork, I referred to a recipe for Chinese pork buns by Wayne Hu, but once again, tweaked it a bit to my own taste.

Bun dough Ingredients (I halved the original recipe)

1/2 cup plus 1/3 cup whole milk (room temperature)

2 1/4 cups bread flour

1/4 ounce active dry yeast

3/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons sugar

1/4 cup unsalted butter

1 egg

1 egg, beaten


1. Mix milk, flour, yeast, salt, sugar, butter and eggs using a dough hook at low speed. Increase speed to medium, and mix until dough, when stretched, forms a fine membrane or window (about 15 minutes).

2. Transfer dough to an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise 1 hour.

In the mean time, prepare BBQ pork filling.

Roast Pork Ingredients

1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/4 cup ketchup

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons hoisin sauce

1 tablespoon dry sherry

1 garlic clove -- minced

1 tsp toasted sesame oil

1 1/2 pounds boneless pork chops or steaks (1/2 inch thick)


1. Preheat oven to 375F. Line a sheet pan with foil or parchment paper.

2. In a blender container or food processor bowl with metal blade, combine all roast pork ingredients except

pork; blend until smooth.

3. Generously brush both sides of the pork chops or steaks,

reserving remaining basting sauce. Place pork steaks on lined pan and bake at 375F for 30 minutes. Remove pork from oven. Brush both sides of steaks or chops with remaining basting sauce. Bake an additional 10 to 20 minutes or

until no longer pink in the center. Remove from oven, let cool.

4. When cool, chop the pork into small cubes, and place in the refrigerator until ready to combine with the sauce.

Sauce Ingredients

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 tablespoon dry sherry

1 tablespoon peanut oil

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup chopped water chestnuts

1 large clove of garlic, minced

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon hoisin sauce

1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

1/2 cup chicken stock or broth


1. In small bowl or cup, combine the 1 Tbsp of cornstarch and 1 Tbsp sherry. Blend well.

2. Heat oil in wok or large skillet over high heat. Add onion and water chestnuts, cook and stir 2 to 3 minutes

or until onion begins to soften and turn slightly golden. Add garlic, and cook for another minute (be careful it doesn't burn). Add the 1 Tbsp soy sauce and 1 Tbsp hoisin sauce to the pan and stir to coat. Add broth and toasted sesame oil and stir until combined. Let cook for about 1 more minute.

3. Stir in cornstarch mixture, and cook while stirring

until mixture begins to thicken. Remove from heat, and stir in the chopped pork. Transfer to a bowl, and let cool, then refrigerate until ready to fill the buns.

Method/Directions for filling and baking buns

1. Line a large sheet pan (about 12 x 17) with parchment paper.

2. Gently deflate risen dough, and portion it into about 10-12 2 or 3 oz pieces. Roll each into a ball, and cover with plastic wrap and a towel, let rest for about 5-10 minutes.

3. Taking out one ball at a time, (keeping the others covered until ready to roll) on a lightly floured board, roll it into a 4 to 5-inch circle. Place about 1/4 cup, or a little more (or less -- like I said, I eyeball this part) of the cooled pork filling into the center of the circle, and gather up the edges, twisting and pinching to seal tightly. Place on parchment lined sheet, and repeat with the rest of the cooled pork filling and dough balls, until you have 10-12 buns on the sheet.

4. Cover with plastic wrap sprayed with a little vegetable oil, and let the buns rise about 30 to 45 minutes. Preheat oven to 350F.

5. Brush rolls with beaten egg. Bake anywhere from 12 to 18 minutes until golden brown. Let cool a little on a wire rack, then enjoy!

Note - You can use any kind of filling you want with this fabulous bun dough -- like the ones the Korean bakeries use, such as red bean paste, curried beef, custard (thick pastry cream), chicken filling, ham and cheese etc.., or any kind of filling that suits your fancy, as long as it isn't too loose or runny.


Keywords: Pork, Bread, Intermediate, Korean, Snack, Lunch

( RG2122 )

Flickr Shtuff -- I can't take a decent photo to save my life, but it all still tastes good.

My new Blog: Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives

"I feel the end approaching. Quick, bring me my dessert, coffee and liqueur."

Anthelme Brillat-Savarin's great aunt Pierette (1755-1826)


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