Nikuman - Japanese steamed buns

By • March 23, 2011 18 Comments

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Author Notes: Nikuman. Lazy Buns....or perhaps lazy bones and that would be me...again with a no-knead bread recipe stuffed with leftover pulled pork made to a recipe by David Chang. The king of all things porcine.

These buns are stunningly delicious - and can be made for a builder's lunch box or for a girly Japanese tea party. Or even a picnic on a fine summer's day.

Some may recommend a glass of chilled saké, the finest you can lay your hands upon. Or a refreshing drink made with cherry blossoms.

Whatever you do, prepare yourself for deliciousness.
Kitchen Butterfly

Makes 12 hefty or 24 dainty buns

Nikuman - Japanese pork buns

  • Portion bread dough - recipe below
  • 4 ounces cooked pulled (or fresh ground pork)
  • White and green of 1 spring onion, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons chili garlic sauce
  • 2 teaspoons light soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar, for cooking (optional)
  1. Put the pork, onion and ginger into a large bowl. Add the chili garlic sauce, soy sauce, sugar, and sesame oil. Mix the ingredients together with two forks until well incorporated and the meat becomes sticky and forms a mass.
  2. Remove the dough from the fridge and gently knead on a lightly floured surface to form a smooth ball. Divide the dough into the number of balls you’d like to make by cutting the round first into halves, then quarters and further till you have the number of pieces required. Form each piece of dough into a ball and set them aside, loosely covered.
  3. Portion out the meat mixture, using a teaspoon or tablespoon, depending on what size you want to make. Take a ball of dough and flatten it between your hands. Then using a rolling pin, roll the dough out into a circle about 1/2 - 1 cm thick. Using your fingers, pinch the edges of the dough to make them thinner. Place one portion of meat in the center of the dough and wrap it by bringing the dough up around the meat to the top, forming little pleats with the excess dough, then slightly twisting the dough to close it and pinching it firmly to join it.
  4. Put the bun on a small square of parchment or wax paper or in silicone cupcake cases. Repeat the process with the rest of the dough and meat till you use them up.
  5. Put some water in the base of a steamer (bamboo steamers are great), along with 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar (optional) - apparently, the vinegar will create whiter-looking buns.
  6. Preheat the steamer on high heat until it starts steaming. Place the buns on their squares of parchment/wax paper in the steamer and cover then steam for 15 minutes on high heat.
  7. Remove from the heat and cool for a few minutes before serving. Accompany with some plum jam or dipping sauce.
  8. The buns keep extremely well in the fridge for a few days and freeze well too. Pack them in zip lock bags. To reheat, microwave or steam again for a couple of minutes.

Bread dough

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 10g fresh yeast or 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1 large egg, lightly whisked
  • 2 tablespoons butter (chilled and cut into pieces)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  1. In a large bowl (which has a lid), put the warm water, and crush the fresh yeast or active dry yeast - combine. If using fresh yeast, you need not set aside anytime to ‘prove’, if using active dry, set it aside for a few minutes till bubbly.
  2. Then add the whisked egg, butter chunks and sugar. Sprinkle the salt over the top and add the flour, cup by cup till incorporated using a dough whisk or a wooden spoon. Set aside, loosely covered on the counter for a couple of hours till risen. Use immediately or set in the fridge overnight to ‘improve’.
  3. If following the overnight method, use a pastry brush to lightly oil the top of the dough and the top of the lid before refrigerating.

More Great Recipes: Pork|Appetizers|Hors d'oeuvres|Snacks|Bread

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Comments (18) Questions (0)


11 months ago Audrey

These are tender and delicious! I doubled the filling recipe. Will happily make these again soon.


almost 2 years ago Valentina Solfrini

I love these guys! What if i wanted to freeze them? Can they be frozen prior to steaming, after cooking or both?


about 2 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

These are perfect for a road trip or a picnic or anytime really. I have always wanted to make these. Must try!


almost 4 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

I've always wanted to try making these. They'd be fun to make when the son & daughter are here for Christmas. You make them look very do-able; thank you.


over 3 years ago Kitchen Butterfly

Cheers Boulangere. I came to look at the recipe again today - planning on making them for a get-to-meet-the neighbours party next Thursday! I hope you enjoy them


about 4 years ago stirfrei

Yes! Nikuman is the best!


over 4 years ago VanessaS

Yum, looks great!


over 4 years ago Kitchen Butterfly

Thans vvvanessa, kmartinelli and Midge.


over 4 years ago Midge

I love steamed pork buns and yours look super tasty.


over 4 years ago kmartinelli

Mmm, these look delish. I love steamed pork buns! Can't wait to give this a try.


over 4 years ago vvvanessa

lookin' good, kitchen butterfly! i would totally give these a go!


over 4 years ago gingerroot

YUM! You say nikuman, I say manapua...yes, hurrah for pork buns!


over 4 years ago Kitchen Butterfly

Thanks gingerroot


over 4 years ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

Hurrah for pork buns! I made the momofuku pork belly buns recently. yum yum. I steamed the buns in my rice cooker! These sound grand!


over 4 years ago Kitchen Butterfly

Oh Mrs Larkin. Along with my pork shoulder, I have some pork belly........ready to do as you did, Make the Momofuku pork buns with pickled cucumbers :-).


over 4 years ago Kitchen Butterfly

Thanks monkeymom & Thirschfeld - I have a whole slab of pork shoulder waiting to be turned into pulled pork....just for this recipe!


over 4 years ago thirschfeld

Stuffed buns, yum


over 4 years ago monkeymom

Love this!!! Been looking for a good steamed bun recipe!