I love pork buns. But they always seem so limitedly accessible. That particular bit fills me with rage! They should be available at any time I want them! Additionally, some places you get them are using questionable ingredients, and there's nothing worse than grisly chewy pork in an otherwise beautiful dish. So, I pursued the pork bun with abandon and found they're incredibly easy to make! When I say I pursued it with abandon, I'm lying. The first time I made these I made them on a whim. Really. They're that easy. It seems like a lot of steps, but if you're around the house one day and have a little bit of time you can do this whole bit. And they reheat really well.
The Roasted Pork is from David Chang's Momofuku - it's what they use in their ramen. But since that preparation is a small part of the recipe, I don't mind the theft. I hope you don't either. The recipe only uses half that portion, so you'll get even more bang for you buck. —PeteF
about 16 buns
Roasted Pork and Buns
Boneless, Skinless Pork Shoulder
Chinese 5 Spice Powder (I use homemade, from roasted spices - if yours is from the store you may have to use a little more - you can taste test before you stuff the buns. You don't want the buns to be spicy, but you want an earthy undertone.)
Combine the 1/4 cups of kosher salt and sugar. Coat the pork shoulder and rub it in. Place the pork into as small a roasting pan as possible, cover, and refrigerate. Let sit in the fridge for at least 6 hours, but no more than 24.
Preheat the oven to 250F.
Remove pork from the fridge. Pour off any collected juices. Put into the oven and allow to roast for 6 hours, basting every hour. Don't worry about the pork's internal temperature. Don't worry about anything. It's fine. Release your need to hover and be anxious. It's fine.
At 6 hours, remove the pork and let sit for 30 min. Then using two forks, shred the pork.
Bring the cup of water, soy sauce, and 3 tbspn sugar and 5 Spice Powder into a small saucepan, and bring to a boil. As it's heating up, dissolve the corn starch into a few tablespoons of water.
Once the soy sauce mixture is boiling, add the dissolved cornstarch and mix vigorously as it thickens. It will thicken VERY rapidly. Watch it.
Add half the pulled pork into the sauce (reserve the other half for another recipe of these amazing pork buns, or put them in tomato sauce, or make tacos). Mix thoroughly.
Cut the bun dough into 12 equal portions (about 70g). Roll the pieces into discs, much thinner at the edges.
Holding a dough disc in your cupped hand, put a few tablespoons of pork mixture onto the dough and seal the bun into a purse. Place on small discs of parchment paper (if steaming), or on the baking sheet - seam side down.
Steam the buns for 10 minutes, or bake at 375F with an egg wash for 10 minutes.
Sweet Bun Dough
Dissolve yeast and sugar into the warm water. Let stand about 10 minutes, until it's nice and frothy.
Pour 4 cups of the flour into the yeast/water mix. As you're incorporating the flour, add the baking powder, and then the melted lard.
As the dough comes together, add the last cup of flour, continuing to incorporate it.
Turn the dough (and the remaining flour) onto a clean surface and kneed the dough. Add more flour as needed, although you probably won't need more.
Once the dough is elastic and smooth, put into an oiled bowl and cover. Let rise for 2 hours.
After the initial rise, turn out onto a clean surface and kneed a few more minutes until smooth and homogenous.