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Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Pork Pau Recipe

I meant to write this post and two others yesterday to keep momentum going on the blog but I had a PT session at the gym and we did tabata training, which is evil, just evil. If you don't have firsthand experience of it then I suggest you keep it that way! Basically, it's high intensity interval training with a twist, you do one exercise, or in our case, two, over the course of 4 minutes, 20 seconds of exercise and then 10 seconds rest, 20 seconds hard work, 10 seconds rest and so on until you've done 8 sets when, finally, you get a minute rest! Hallelujah, a chance to get your breath back, or not, as it just begins to return when you find yourself off again to work another part of your body. We did this for 45 minutes and my flatmate appeared to be rueing the day he said he'd join me by the end of it all. Well, understandably afterwards we went home and collapsed until I made i dunderi for supper (one of the posts due) and then settled in to watch the Brave Sir Robin bravely running away in Monty Python and the Holy Grail before bed. 

Rested and aching from the gym I shall now give you my recipe, inspired by and adapted from, and Jamie Oliver's recipes.

Pau are a type of dim sum that are often eaten for breakfast or as snacks. There are many different fillings; chicken, red bean paste, vegetables, char sui (chinese barbecued pork) to name but a few, and my favourite, plain pork. If you cannot eat pork then substitute it for equal amounts of minced chicken. I'm still searching for a recipe that is vegetarian and successful but when I find it I promise to share it with you all.

As much as I love these buns I have to say that it is a real labour of love to make them, time-wise, and it's taken me the better part of a day (5-6 hours) each time I've made these. Having said that, it's worth it! You can freeze the cooked pau and reheat them in the same way that they were originally cooked. If there's leftover dough then flatten it into a rectangular shape and brush water over one side before rolling it up and cutting it into slices. Leave to rise in cases and then steam for 12 minutes, again leaving covered for a further 5. The only thing is, these have to be eaten as soon as they're cooked, or be frozen and recooked; I kept some in a tin overnight to have in the morning and they were stale and chewy when I went to eat them.

Pork Pau Recipe

Makes about 21-24
Use cupcake/muffin cases to put the buns in once they've been made and before they're cooked - it will stop them from sticking to each other/the sides of the steamer and tearing.
You can use a bread machine instead of a stand mixer if you want, or do it by hand but knead for longer.
If you mince your own pork then make sure you buy shoulder of pork for its fattier cut, which helps the taste of the buns.
If needs be, google 'how to form pork pau' and click on videos to show you how to pleat them.
The best thing to do is to read this recipe twice before you attempt it, in order to make sure nothing escapes your notice amongst the myriad of steps.

550g plain flour
1.5tsp active dried yeast
50ml lukewarm water
230ml of ½ water, ½ milk mix, at room temperature (the milk will make the buns look whiter)
1tsp baking powder
2tbsp vegetable or sunflower oil
50g sugar
3g salt
1.5lb or 680g minced pork (or chicken, or beef, or lamb)
520g Taiwanese cabbage or other asian greens; in one recipe I used pak choi
4tbsp light soy sauce (less salt version if possible)
2tsp freshly grated ginger (if you don't like ginger then don't worry, I hate it too, but you don't really taste it in the finished recipe)
2tsp sugar
8tbsp water
pepper, to taste

Activate the yeast in the lukewarm water for 10 minutes or until it is bubbly and milky.
Place the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix it together with a spoon.
Set the stand mixer off slowly using the dough hook, and gradually pour in the activated yeast, followed by the milk and water mix, then add the cooking oil.
Knead with the machine for 10 to 15 minutes, checking to make sure the dough is smooth and not sticky, add more flour if it sticks to your hand too much and more water if the dough is too hard.
Once you have a ball of dough that is soft and smooth, cover the top of the bowl with 2 layers of cling film and leave in a warm place until it has doubled in size (about an hour). I tend to put mine by the radiator in my bathroom as it's often on to dry laundry and therefore kills two birds with one stone.
Once it's risen, knock it back again in the stand mixer (re-knead it) for 5 minutes.
Cut the dough into 4 equal pieces and place 3 back into the bowl.
Whilst you use the dough make sure the bits that you're not using at that point in time are covered to stop them from forming a skin.
Filling - do whilst the dough is proving
If, like me, you are mincing your own pork, do so now and place into a large bowl.
Add to the bowl of minced pork the soy sauce, ginger, sugar, salt, water and pepper and combine.
Chill in the fridge for 15 minutes and dice the cabbage to small pea size, then mix it through with the pork.
Putting everything together
Taking one of the quarters of dough, divide it into 6 and roll into balls before flattening them into 4 inch diameter rounds that are thicker in the middle than at the edges. Cover 5 of them with a clean cloth.

With the bowl of mince next to you, make a circle with the thumb and forefinger of your non-dominant hand and place the sixth disc of dough over it.
Place a large tablespoon of pork into the centre of the disc, keeping it away from the edges by about an inch.
Using your dominant hand, pinch/fold together the edges until you have pinched all the way around and the pau is formed. Have a teaspoon to hand so that you can gently push the filling further under the half-finished pleats, or scoop a bit out if there's far too much. Try not to pleat too thickly, else you'll have, as I did first time round, a tiny bit of pork covered by great mounds of dough.
Place in a cupcake case and leave covered for 30 minutes to rise again.
Repeat this until you run out of filling and discs.

Cooking the pau

Once you have made all the pau, place 4 into a steamer basket and cover, filling the pan below with boiling water.
Steam the buns for 15 minutes and then take off the heat but leave them covered over the water for a further 5 minutes.
They are now ready to eat, but be careful as the liquid inside the bun is scalding hot.
Repeat the process until they have all cooked, checking the water levels between each steaming and topping up if needed (I forgot to do this the first time and wound up steaming the pau with the heat of the pan alone, and with a nasty layer of leaking juices burnt into the bottom of my pan!).
If you make the dough rolls outlined earlier in the post, make sure you cook them first or rinse out the steamer and pan before you cook them in order to avoid an aroma of pork from being baked into them.


If you want to freeze the buns then cook them as directed and cool on a rack before placing them in a ziplock bag and into the freezer.
To eat, place the frozen buns into a steamer and, once again, cook for 15 minutes over boiling water, leaving off the heat and covered for a further 5 minutes before eating.

Liam just asked me how long this blog post was (word count) as it's taken me a couple of hours to write. When I checked I found that I had written about 1,400 words and I wonder why my french essays aren't this easy to write!!

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I love to cook and this blog follows my successes (and a few failures) in the kitchen. If you enjoy my posts, or think there is a problem with a recipe then please let me know