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Chris Amirault

Char Siu Bao--Cook-Off 2

137 posts in this topic

Great posts so far -- I'm dying to see photos, people!

On the filling front: are people finding appropriate char siu marinade ingredients? I had to work hard to track down a jar of fermented bean curd, and I'm on the last bit of the bottle of shaoxing wine I'll be using.

Also, are people using pork butt? Is that the same as pork shoulder (my CIA Professional Chef xmas present suggests so)? I might use up some loin I have in the freezer, too....

When I've figured out the full ingredient list -- this weekend? -- I'm gonna get cracking.

How's about you?


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

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hmmm......now I'm thinking my recipe must be far from tradional as this is the list of ingrediants it calls for:

Soy sauce 1/2 cup

Hoisin sauce 3/4 cup

Sherry, dry 1/2 cup

Honey 1/3 cup

Sugar 1 T

Pork butt

anyone care to point me to a recipe on line that they think is better??

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I'm planning on marinating my pork butt (shoulder) tonight and making these tomorrow!

Still interested in hearing more about the different marinade ingrediants.

I'm also planning on roasting my pork whole and then shredding it as I like that texture better than cubed. Comments on that?

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Still interested in hearing more about the different marinade ingrediants.

I must admit that when I made them years ago, I bought a powdered Char Siu mix at a Chinese grocery. It came out tasting like in a restaurant, so I never tried my own. :wink:

Thanks for all the suggestions for non-pork fillings! We'll be snowed in this weekend, so maybe I'll give it a try.

BTW, when I made them years ago, I made the steamed ones, and the dough was made from scratch. I bought some S hooks at a hardware store and hung the meat from the top rack, and placed a pan with water in the bottom to catch the drippings and create steam. I wonder if I still have the bamboo steamers. :unsure:


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Comments on that?

i live in west seattle :rolleyes:


from overheard in new york:

Kid #1: Paper beats rock. BAM! Your rock is blowed up!

Kid #2: "Bam" doesn't blow up, "bam" makes it spicy. Now I got a SPICY ROCK! You can't defeat that!

--6 Train

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I've never made the dough before, and am interested in any tips to avoid toughness.

Someone upthread mentioned that the recipe in Eileen Yin Fei Lo "The Chinese Kitchen" is iffy. In what way? I just happened to buy that book today, so am curious.

I've made Char Siu using several recipes over the years, most recently Grace Young's. It is similar to Little Ms Foodie's plan. Grace's made a very tasty pork (yes, butt=shoulder--the term butt refers to an end joint), but I would want a thicker juicier sauce for Bao in order to compensate for the doughiness. The flavor is less sweet than some you may have had in restaurants, which I like, but is a matter of personal taste in the end. I would also leave out any red food coloring, which is a comon recipe ingredient. It does add a kind of pretty color, I just hate fake food--also personal.

Am looking forward to this cook-off. Great idea.


Oil and potatoes both grow underground so french fries may have eventually invented themselves had they not been invented -- J. Esther

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I started on the meat today. I made two recipes. One, chicken with the packaged marinade bought at the oriental grocery to which I added garlic, water, grated ginger and 5 spice powder. The second, pork shoulder, sat in a bath of rice wine, honey, soy sauce,garlic, grated ginger, hoisin sauce and 5 spice powder. I cooked the meats in the oven separately over a pan of water at 400. The chicken was done after 20 minutes while the pork took a good 45minutes. I will finish the buns tomorrow(hopefully). As to the marinade, I preferred the homemade to the powder, it clung to the meat and tasted more immediate.


If only Jack Nicholson could have narrated my dinner, it would have been perfect.

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On the filling front: are people finding appropriate char siu marinade ingredients? I had to work hard to track down a jar of fermented bean curd, and I'm on the last bit of the bottle of shaoxing wine I'll be using.

my recipe calls for the fermented bean curd as well, I know that I can get my hands on it easily, but do I really need it? Do people have a preference of with or without? I am not sure if it was ever included in any of the versions I have ever eaten before....

I guess I have a problem with foods that include the word fermented...... even though I love natto... :blink:


<p><strong>Kristin Wagner</strong>, aka "torakris"

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"Cha lao"(restaurant) bao dough is almost always made with baking powder only...and sweet. Most recipes in cookbooks call for yeast dough, as in "man tou" or bread dough. Two entirely different doughs, different taste and textures. What is authentic? Both as they are both great in its own right. The baking powder style is light, fluffy and on the sweet side. The yeast dough is less sweet, heavier and more substantial or filling. This is just plain white bread dough, with a bit of extra sugar.

As for filling, any cha siu mixture is good, but don't make it too wet.

Kristin, leaving out the fermented bean curd gives a "cleaner" palate/taste in the eating. But some do like the heaviness of the bean curd taste. Tout a son gout, n'est-ce pas?

BTW kimchi is fermented too, no?


Edited by Ben Hong (log)

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Damnit. I won't have time to do this until after the 29th. :sad:

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Someone upthread mentioned that the recipe in Eileen Yin Fei Lo "The Chinese Kitchen" is iffy.  In what way?  I just happened to buy that book today, so am curious.

Hi Tamiaim!

I think I said that. I have that book and her Chinese Banquet Cookbook, and I find Chinese Kitchen very uneven. The bao dough that I made was decent, but her marinade was too sweet and very gummy after steaming. I'm trying to compare all of the recipes I'm using here on my desk. More in a sec!


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

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On the filling front: are people finding appropriate char siu marinade ingredients? I had to work hard to track down a jar of fermented bean curd, and I'm on the last bit of the bottle of shaoxing wine I'll be using.

my recipe calls for the fermented bean curd as well, I know that I can get my hands on it easily, but do I really need it? Do people have a preference of with or without? I am not sure if it was ever included in any of the versions I have ever eaten before....

When I first made char siu, I used a recipe that did not include the fermented bean curd and the shaoxing. When I made my second batch, I had those two ingredients, and the difference was massive.

It seems strange that these little cubes of slightly stinky tofu are so central to the flavor, but it seemed really true -- for me, anyway. Ben is right: "Tout a son gout, n'est-ce pas?"

And the shaoxing is far better than sherry, to my tastes-- as long as you can get decent shaoxing. Cheapo supermarket "Chinese cooking wine", on the other hand, is far worse than the sherry you probably have in your liquor cabinet. Eileen Yin-Fei Lo recommends gin as a substitute, but I tried that and -- ewww.... :huh:

A tally of who uses what from my collection of Barbara Tropp's Modern Art of Chinese Cooking, Eileen Yin-Fei Lo's Chinese Kitchen and Chinese Banquet, Charmaine Solomon's Complete Asian Cookbook, and the warhorse of Chang and Kutscher, Encyclopedia of Chinese Food and Cooking.

shaoxing: MA, CK, CB, CAC

bean curd: CK, CB, ECFC

Everyone uses soy; hoisin, honey, sugar or a combination; garlic and/or ginger; five spice. Most use chicken stock as a moistening agent.

The one thing that every recipe I've seen says is that you should cut the pork into long 2 inch strips before marinating. That enables the marinade to seep thoroughly into the meat.

I think I'm going to tinker with these recipes until I have something that tastes right. You can easily test with a frying pan and a little chunk of pork. I'll post whatever tastes best!

edited to add five spice and fix a garbled sentence about shaoxing -- ca


Edited by chrisamirault (log)

Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

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The dough ingrediants are 1 package dry yeast with 1 c water and 1 c flour in the first bowl. The second bowl is an addition of 1/4 c sugar, 1/2 cup water and 2 TBS shortening boiled together, cooled and added with 3 1/2 c flour. This one has no baking powder so it will definately be a breadier bun. I'll have to do another recipe next time to compare on my own.


Edited by little ms foodie (log)

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The pork is in the oven roasting

gallery_16100_1_1106425216.jpg

Damn it looks good!! Now how to make sure I use it for the filling instead of just slicing it and eating it?? :unsure:

I decided to roast mine whole after reading a bunch of different recipes. Since I marinated it overnight and turned it occasionally I think it will be ok. I love the texture of shredded pork!

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"Cha lao"(restaurant) bao dough is almost always made with baking powder only...and sweet. Most recipes in cookbooks call for yeast dough, as in "man tou" or bread dough. Two entirely different doughs, different taste and textures. What is authentic? Both as they are both great in its own right. The baking powder style is light, fluffy and on the sweet side. The yeast dough is less sweet, heavier and more substantial or filling. This is just plain white bread dough, with a bit of extra sugar.

Thanks, Ben. Are you saying that the yeasted dough is more prevalent in home cooking? And is the sweetness of the "cha lao" dough subtle or pronounced?

[...]

And the shaoxing is far better than sherry, to my tastes-- as long as you can get decent shaoxing. Cheapo supermarket "Chinese cooking wine", on the other hand, is far worse than the sherry you probably have in your liquor cabinet. Eileen Yin-Fei Lo recommends gin as a substitute, but I tried that and -- ewww....  :huh:

A tally of who uses what from my collection of Barbara Tropp's Modern Art of Chinese Cooking, Eileen Yin-Fei Lo's Chinese Kitchen and Chinese Banquet, Charmaine Solomon's Complete Asian Cookbook, and the warhorse of Chang and Kutscher, Encyclopedia of Chinese Food and Cooking.

shaoxing: MA, CK, CB, CAC

bean curd: CK, CB, ECFC

Everyone uses soy; hoisin, honey, sugar or a combination; garlic and/or ginger; five spice. Most use chicken stock as a moistening agent.

The one thing that every recipe I've seen says is that you should cut the pork into long 2 inch strips before marinating. That enables the marinade to seep thoroughly into the meat.

I think I'm going to tinker with these recipes until I have something that tastes right. You can easily test with a frying pan and a little chunk of pork. I'll post whatever tastes best!

I've never been able to get decent Shaoxing here in Ohio. I picked up a couple of bottles in SF Chinatown last spring. I agree that it's preferable to substituting sherry, but anyone who can't find it can use sherry without feeling too deprived. Any cheap "cooking wine" is vile. If you can't find real Shaoxing, substitute dry sherry and carry on!

I've always thought of Chinese roasted pork as marinated strips roasted at high heat with a sweet coating - fragrant, sweet, and caramelized. Ken Hom calls for malt sugar rather than honey, so that's what I used. (the maltose syrup in the hot pink tub from the local asian market). The taste and consistency of the chinese maltose is pretty similar to Lyle's Golden Syrup.

I'm interested to see how Wendy's whole roast turns out. It sure looks good.

p.s. to Kristin: If you can eat Natto, you clearly fear no fermented food. :laugh:

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Edsel; I don't know whether the yeast dough is more prevalent in the home but I do know that it's the recipe that almost all cookbooks give. I can't fathom that at all. The "cha lao" baos have a quite sweet dough made with baking powder.

Little ms foodie's roast looks great ...for a roast. Cha siu is thick strips of meat, better to take on more of the marinade.

I do not normally use any specific alcohol (if at all) in my cha siu, because it would take a more discerning palate than mine to detect one brand from another after the stuff has been roasted with all the heavy flavours of the marinade ingredients. I'll drink my alcohol as a toast to those with Golden Palates who can differentiate. :rolleyes:

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pork after roasting

gallery_16100_1_1106437432.jpg

I agree with Ben, even though the flavor of the marinade is good all the way thru you don't get the yummy carmelization on as much surface with the whole roast (I saw recipes for it both ways). Next time I will cut into thick strips and roast. The flavor is sooooo good though, I'm very happy with it!

gallery_16100_1_1106437466.jpg

After shredding and chopping- we had to do both so even more reason for doing the strips. The texture would be just the same.

Stir fried with scallions, garlic, oyster sauce, soy sauce and thickened with cornstarch

gallery_16100_1_1106437497.jpg

This mixture rocks!! I almost just ate it! :smile:

We did a little assembly line, taking turns rolling the dough and filling the dough. Now they are resting/rising and we'll steam them in about an hour.

gallery_16100_1_1106437536.jpg

BAO!! :wub:

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Thanks for your input, Ben. Out of curiosity (if you don't mind), is your familiarity with restaurant-style ("cha lao") dumplings here in North America, or in Canton or Hong Kong? I'm very much aware that this is an international forum, and I don't make any assumpsions about where our members post from (unless their profiles state as much).

As you've probably guessed by now, I'm not a total stickler for "authenticity", but I like to be cognizant of regional variations.

Wendy, your pork roast looks wonderful. I would suggest that you dice it up in small pieces and douse it in many yummy flavorings.

Edit to add: Looks like Wendy is way ahead of me!


Edited by edsel (log)

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gorgeous pictures Wendy!!

I guess I am off this morning to buy some fermented bean curd, yeah I love kimchi too so I don't know what I am afraid of...

my recipe, from Corrine Trang, calls for shaoxing as well, how owuld sake work as a substitute? I am pretty sure I could get a bottle of decent shaoxing here if I looked. Are there any good brands to keep an eye out for?

My bao recipe calls for BOTH yeast and baking powder.....


<p><strong>Kristin Wagner</strong>, aka "torakris"

Manager, Membership

<a class="bbc_email" href="mailto:kwagner@egstaff.org" title="E-mail Link">kwagner@egstaff.org</a></p>

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OK...I'll make mine tomorrow. Baked or steamed? At the moment I'm inclining to baked..Meantime the pork is marinating and the sourdough starter starting overnight:

gallery_7620_135_1106438876.jpg

The pork is belly strips cos I like the fat and the skin, and they were on special...

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