Happy Chinese New Year! To celebrate I decided to try my hand at making Korean steamed buns, variations of which are served in China, Japan and Taiwan. I’ve seen adaptations of these on numerous cookery programmes and when Jamie Oliver made them on his Christmas show (filled with leftover turkey) I resolved to master them in 2016. Rachel Khoo also has a recipe for them in her Kitchen Notebook, but for these I adapted the Jamie Oliver method and it seemed to work well. Be warned that they’re not a quick – I spent a good afternoon on various stages of the process but it’s pretty simple and you can do it in advance then just reheat the buns when you’re ready to serve.
For the fillings I cooked a duck crown rubbed with Chinese spices for the meat eater and made hoisin salmon for myself, then served with a tasty mix of toppings including: stir fried veg, shredded cucumber and spring onion, Thai basil, red chilli, crisp lettuce, chopped peanuts, pickled cucumber, lime wedges and hoisin sauce.
Makes approx 20 buns to serve 4-6
7g dried yeast
500g strong white bread flour
225ml warm water
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tbsp sea salt
60g melted butter
Flour for dusting
Place the yeast in a large bowl and stir in the warm water then leave for around 3 minutes to activate the yeast (if you have a KitchenAid you can use the bowl from your mixer).
Stir in the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt and melted butter until it comes together. Knead for 10 minutes to form a silky dough. (At this point I transferred the mix to my KitchenAid and used the dough hook to slowly knead for around 7 minutes.)
Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover and leave to prove in a warm place for a couple of hours until it has doubled in size.
When the dough has doubled, knock it back on a floured surface and split it in half. Roll each half with your hands into a log shape, then slice each log into 10 pieces.
Roll each piece into a ball then place on a lined baking sheet with a gap between each ball. Cover then leave to prove again for 30-45 minutes until the buns have risen.
Take each bun and knock it back, then roll with a rolling pin into an oval shape around the size of your hand.
Coat a chopstick with oil and place in the middle of each bun then fold over.
Line a bamboo steamer with greaseproof paper (I used an ordinary vegetable steamer which worked well) then place on a medium heat. Depending on the size of your steamer you might need to do this in batches as the buns cannot overlap.
Steam for 10-12 minutes until light and fluffy. You can serve these immediately or leave to cool and chill until you’re ready, then just re-steam for a couple of minutes to heat up again (they can even be frozen at this stage and then defrosted and re-steamed).
Assemble your buns with whatever toppings take your fancy; this would be a great informal meal with friends as everyone can just help themselves. Happy Chinese New Year monkeys!