BBQ pork buns

Gingerboy’s steamed BBQ pork buns

Finished bun

For Christmas Gerard gave me the Gingerboy cookbook which is full of amazing looking recipes. Amazing. The book also looks really pretty, I know it probably makes me shallow but I love a pretty cookbook, good food styling can make anything look appealing. I wanted to make something from the book but I haven’t done a lot of asian cooking and most of the recipes look pretty darn complicated, it was a little overwhelming. Then I saw the recipe for steamed pork buns and knew I had to try it, I can’t get enough of pork buns. Being able to make pork buns at home meant there was a real risk that I would never eat anything else again and end up as a doughy (but happy) blob just waddling around the house from steamer basket to steamer basket, but being the brave and selfless sort I am, that was a risk I was willing to take.

The recipe didn’t look too scary and I had a lot of time on my hands being on holiday last week so I thought I’d see whether the recipe would actually work for someone who isn’t the best cook getting around. Don’t let the epic list of ingredients put you off, the buns are surprisingly/dangerously easy to make.

Inside a bun

Note that this recipe is taken from the Gingerboy cookbook but has a couple little variations, mainly because I forgot to buy a couple of the ingredients. If you want a full version its best to head straight to the source.

Pork filling
600 g pork belly
1 cup char siu marinade (see below)
6 spring onions
1 red chilli
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
40 ml lime juice
1 tablespoon gula melaka (see below)

Char siu marinade
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
3 tablespoons ketchup
80 ml rice wine
2 tablespoons kecap manis (dark indonesian soy, I found mine at coles)
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
3 garlic cloves
30 g fresh ginger

Gula melaka
30 g dark palm sugar
30 ml water
1/4 cinnamon stick

300 g bun dough flour (can be bought from asian grocery stores, the bag I bought was about 1kg and helpfully had pictures of steamed buns on the front)
120 ml milk
60 g caster sugar

It’s best to start by preparing the marinade and gula melaka so you’ve got all the ingredients ready to go.

To make the marinade:

  • Peel and finely chop both garlic and ginger.
  • Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix together.
  • Rest for at least 10 minutes before using.

To make the gula melaka: 

  • Grate the palm sugar.
  • Combine ingredients in a saucepan and bring to the boil.
  • Simmer the mixture until it is reduced in volume by around a half.
  • Cool before using.
To make the bun filling:
  • Pour 2/3 of a cup of the char siu marinade over the pork, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour

Pork belly marinating

  • Place the pork on a wire rack sitting on top of a baking tray and roast for 30 minutes at 180 degrees.
  • When the pork has cooled cut it into small pieces and put in a bowl.
  • Add the rest of the marinade, the white sections of the spring onions finely sliced, sea salt, chilli, lime juice and gula melaka. Mix well.

Pork filling

To make the bun dough:
  • Mix 270 g of the flour with the milk and sugar until it comes together.
  • Knead the dough on a floured surface until it is smooth and shiny.
  • Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and rest in the fridge for around 10 minutes.
  • Roll the dough into a sausage shape and then cut into 12 evenly sized pieces.

Cutting dough into portions

  • Roll each piece of dough out into a thin circle.

Bun wrappers

  • Place a tablespoon in the centre of each circle of dough.

A bun ready to wrap

  • Pinch the dough towards the centre of each circle to seal the bun.

All wrapped up and ready to go

  • Place a perforated steel disc into a bamboo steamer and spray with cooking oil (I didn’t have a steel disc insert so I just used baking paper, it worked just fine).
  • Place buns in the steamer making sure that there’s enough space between the buns that they won’t stick together when they expand.
  • Cover the steamer and place over a pot or wok of simmering water for 6 minutes. The base of the buns should be firm when cooked.

All steamed up

My top tip from making these is to make sure that you don’t end up with too much liquid in the bun when you try to wrap it up. If you do it might end up looking like this:

Soupiness steamed

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  • S. Hey wood

    omg amazing! I have always been too scared to try making these, I worry the dough will be incredibly dense. I feel inspired now ! Have you made them again since?

    • Marg

      I’ve made them twice since and they worked out really well both times (no holes in the buns those times!). I thought they might be a disaster but in the end they actually weren’t too hard at all. I found the dough came together to an elastic-y consistency pretty easily. Mmm, now I want to make them again!