Serves a Crowd

Nikuman - Japanese steamed buns

March 23, 2011
0 Ratings
  • Prep time 3 hours 15 minutes
  • Cook time 15 minutes
  • Makes 12 hefty or 24 dainty buns
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

What You'll Need
  • 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)
  • 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. Nikuman - Japanese pork buns
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Remove from the heat and cool for a few minutes before serving. Accompany with some plum jam or dipping sauce.
  9. 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.
  1. Bread dough
  2. 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.
  3. 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’.
  4. 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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Fran Entwistle
    Fran Entwistle
  • Valentina Solfrini
    Valentina Solfrini
  • boulangere
  • stirfrei
  • VanessaS
I love food and I'm interested in making space for little-heard voices, as well as celebrating Nigerian cuisine in its entirety.

18 Reviews

Fran E. May 14, 2018
I've made these a bunch of times now, and they are SO GOOD. If I'm feeling stingy I'll roll the dough much thinner than the recipe states to make as many buns as possible, and freeze most of them - just a few minutes in the microwaves gets them lovely and warm again, and I'm the envy of the office at lunch! The process of filling and steaming them is very relaxing, but adding vinegar to the steamer water makes the whole house smell AWFUL. In my opinion? Not worth it...
Audrey October 9, 2014
These are tender and delicious! I doubled the filling recipe. Will happily make these again soon.
Valentina S. November 2, 2013
I love these guys! What if i wanted to freeze them? Can they be frozen prior to steaming, after cooking or both?
boulangere December 3, 2011
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.
Kitchen B. December 9, 2011
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
stirfrei June 7, 2011
Yes! Nikuman is the best!
VanessaS June 3, 2011
Yum, looks great!
Kitchen B. April 5, 2011
Thans vvvanessa, kmartinelli and Midge.
Midge April 4, 2011
I love steamed pork buns and yours look super tasty.
kmartinelli April 3, 2011
Mmm, these look delish. I love steamed pork buns! Can't wait to give this a try.
vvvanessa April 2, 2011
lookin' good, kitchen butterfly! i would totally give these a go!
gingerroot March 23, 2011
YUM! You say nikuman, I say manapua...yes, hurrah for pork buns!
Kitchen B. March 23, 2011
Thanks gingerroot
mrslarkin March 23, 2011
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!
Kitchen B. March 23, 2011
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 :-).
Kitchen B. March 23, 2011
Thanks monkeymom & Thirschfeld - I have a whole slab of pork shoulder waiting to be turned into pulled pork....just for this recipe!
thirschfeld March 23, 2011
Stuffed buns, yum
monkeymom March 23, 2011
Love this!!! Been looking for a good steamed bun recipe!