the daring cooks: cha sui & cha sui bao

Our Daring Cooks’ December 2011 hostess is Sara from Belly Rumbles! Sara chose awesome Char Sui Bao as our challenge, where we made the buns, Char Sui, and filling from scratch – delicious!

My first daring kitchen challenge found me unprepared and in the middle of  a hectic week, so I was a little inefficient and to be frank a bit intimidated by the name of this dish. However as I was reading the recipe I realized this is almost identical to a dish we used to prepare for 6 months every week while catering to events. I think that the aroma of the chinese five spice mix sets this recipe apart and its not something you encounter often in western cuisine. The buns I’ve never done before but I always enjoy baking bread of any kind. What I like in this recipe is the nice shiny glaze you can cover the pork with especially if you finish it under the grill. Lauren however will be furious at me because the photos were taken with a small holiday camera and under awful lighting but I managed to capture the sticky glaze magic I think… Anyway read further for the recipe the way the challenge described it.

((The directions were copied & pasted directly from the challenge.))

Char Sui (Cantonese BBQ Pork)

Ingredients

1 pork fillet/tenderloin (roughly 1-1.5 pounds)
4 large cloves of garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon (3 gm) ginger, grated
1 tablespoon peanut oil
1 ½ tablespoons maltose (you can substitute honey)
1 ½ tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
1 teaspoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon shaoxing cooking wine
½ teaspoon (2 gm) ground white pepper
pinch of salt
½ teaspoon (2 gm) five spice powder
½ teaspoon sesame oil
½ teaspoon pillar box red food colouring (1 tablespoon=15 ml, 1 teaspoon=5 ml)

Directions:

  1. Trim the pork loin to remove fat and tendon and slice lengthways so you have two long pieces, then cut in half. By cutting the pork in to smaller pieces to marinate you will end up with more flavoursome char sui.  If you want to leave the pork in one piece you can do this as well.  Place in container that you will be marinating them in.
    2.Combine all the other ingredients in a bowl and mix well to combine.  I placed my maltose in the microwave for a few seconds to make it easier to work with.  Maltose is quite a solid hard sticky substance.
    3.Cover pork well with ⅔ of the marinade mixture.  Marinate for a minimum of 4 hours, I find it is best left to marinate overnight.  Place the reserved ⅓ portion of the marinade covered in the fridge.  You will use this as a baste when cooking the porkCooking Method 1 – Oven

    This is the first way that I experimented with cooking the char sui.

    1. Pre-heat oven to moderate 180˚C/350°F/gas mark 4.
    2. Cover a baking tray with foil or baking paper.  Place on top of this a rack on which to cook the pork.
      • Place pork on the rack and place in oven.
      • Bake for approximately 10 minutes, basting and turning.
      • Turn the heat up to moderately hot 200˚C/400°F/gas mark 6 for the final 20 minutes as this will aid the charring.  Cook until cooked through.

      Cooking Method 2 – Seared in pan & then into the oven On reading more I discovered this method, it was meant to give a better charred finish.  Not sure that it did give a “better” result, but the pork was a lot more moist.

        1. Pre-heat oven to moderate 180˚C/350°F/gas mark 4.
        2. Cover a baking tray with foil or baking paper.  Place on top of this a rack on which to cook the pork.
        3. Place pork in a hot frying pan or wok.  Sear it quickly so it is well browned
      1. Remove from pan/wok and place pork on the rack and place in oven.
      2. Bake for approximately 15 minutes, basting and turning  until cooked through.

      Cooking Method 3 – BBQ

      This method I feel gave the best result.  If you have access to a BBQ use it.  The pork had a better BBQ flavour and was also very moist.

        1. Place marinated pork loin on the grill of your BBQ
      1. Cook on a medium heat, approximately 15 minutes, until cooked through.
      2. Be careful to watch that you don’t burn the pork.

      Char Sui (Cantonese BBQ Pork) Alternative marinade without red food colouring or maltose

      Ingredients

      1 teaspoon (6 gm) salt
      1 teaspoon sesame oil
      1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
      1 teaspoon  (3 gm) ground white pepper
      2 tablespoons honey
      2 tablespoons (30 gm/1 oz) sugar
      2 tablespoons oyster sauce
      1 tablespoon shaoxing cooking wine
      1 teaspoon (3 gm) five spice (1 tablespoon=15 ml, 1 teaspoon=5 ml)

      Directions:

        1. Trim the pork loin to remove fat and tendon and slice lengthways so you have two long pieces, then cut in half.  Place in container that you will be marinating them in.
        2. Combine all the other ingredients in a bowl and mix well to combine.
      1. Cover pork well with ⅔ of the marinade mixture.  Marinate for a minimum of 4 hours, I find it is best left to marinate overnight.  Place the reserved ⅓ portion of the marinade covered in the fridge.  You will use this as a baste when cooking the pork.
      2. Follow the desired cooking method from the previous recipe.

      Baked Char Sui Bao (Cantonese BBQ Pork Bun)

      Servings: 12Filling Ingredients

      350 gm (12 oz) char sui (finely diced)
      2 green onions/spring onions (finely sliced)
      1 tablespoon hoisin
      1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
      1 teaspoon sesame oil ¼ cup (60 ml) chicken stock
      1 teaspoon (2 gm) cornflour
      ½ tablespoon vegetable oil
      (1 tablespoon=15 ml, 1 teaspoon=5 ml)

      Dough Ingredients

      2½ teaspoons  (8 gm/1 satchel) of dried yeast
      ¼ cup (55 gm/2 oz) sugar
      ½ cup warm water
      2 cups (280 gm/10 oz) plain flour
      1 egg (medium size – slightly beaten)
      3 tablespoons oil
      ½ teaspoon (3 gm) salt Egg wash:
      1 egg beaten with a dash of water
      (1 cup=240 ml, 1 tablespoon=15 ml, 1 teaspoon=5 ml)

      Filling Directions:

      1. Heat the vegetable oil in a wok or pan.
      2. Add diced char sui to the wok/pan and stir then add spring onions, cook for 1 minute.
      3. Add hoisin, dark soy sauce and sesame oil to the pork mixture, stir fry for one minute.
      4. Mix cornflour and stock together and then add to the pork mixture.
      5. Stir well and keep cooking until the mixture thickens, 1 or 2 minutes.
      6. Remove mixture from wok/pan and place in a bowl to cool.  Set aside until ready to use.

      Bun Directions:

        1. Place the sugar and warm water in a bowl, mix until the sugar has dissolved.  Add yeast and leave it for 10 – 15 minutes until it becomes all frothy.
        2. Sift flour in to a large bowl.
        3. Add yeast mixture, egg, oil and salt and stir.  Bring the flour mixture together with your hands.
        4. Place dough on a lightly floured surface and knead for approximately 10 minutes.  The dough should be smooth and slightly elastic.
        5. Place in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a damp cloth.  Leave to rise until it is double in size.  This will take from 1 – 2 hours depending on weather conditions.
        6. Once dough has doubled in size knock back and divide in to 12 portions and shape in to round balls.
        7. Use a rolling pin to roll out to approximately 5cm (2 inches) in diameter.  Then pick the piece of dough up and gently pull the edges to enlarge to about 8cm (3 inches) in diameter.

      By doing this it keeps the dough slightly thicker in the centre.  This means when your buns are cooking they won’t split on the tops.

        1. Place a good sized tablespoon of filling on the dough circle.  Then gather the edges and seal your bun.
        1. Place the bun seal side down on your baking tray.  Continue with rest of dough.
        2. Once all buns are complete brush surface with egg wash.
        1. Place in a preheated oven of 200º C/392º F for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

      Steamed Char Sui Bao (Cantonese BBQ Pork Bun)

      Servings: 20Filling Ingredients

      350 gm (12 oz) char sui (finely diced)
      2 shallots (finely diced)
      1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
      2 tablespoons oyster sauce
      1 teaspoon sesame oil
      ¼ cup (60 ml) chicken stock
      1 teaspoon (3 gm) cornflour
      ½ tablespoon vegetable oil

      Bun Ingredients

      1 cup milk, scalded
      ¼ cup (60 gm/2 oz) sugar
      1 tablespoon oil
      ¼ teaspoon (2 gm) salt
      2½ teaspoons (8 gm/1 satchel) of dried yeast
      3 cups (420 gm/15 oz) plain flour
      (1 cup=240 ml, 1 tablespoon=15 ml, 1 teaspoon=5 ml)

      Filling Directions:

      1. Heat the vegetable oil in a wok or pan.  Sauté the shallots for one or two minutes until soft.
      2. Add diced char sui to the wok/pan and stir.
      3. Add oyster sauce, dark soy sauce and sesame oil to the pork mixture, stir fry for one minute.
      4. Mix cornflour and stock together and then add to the pork mixture.
      5. Stir well and keep cooking until the mixture thickens, 1 or 2 minutes.
      6. Remove mixture from wok/pan and place in a bowl to cool.  Set aside until ready to use.

      Bun Directions:

        1. Scald milk and then stir in sugar, oil and salt, leave to cool until it is lukewarm.  Once it is the right temperature add yeast, leave until yeast is activated and it becomes frothy, about 10 – 15 minutes.
        2. Sift flour in to a large bowl.
        3. Add milk/yeast mixture to the flour.  Bring the flour mixture together with your hands.
        4. Place dough on a lightly floured surface and knead for approximately 10 minutes.  The dough should be smooth and slightly elastic.
        5. Place in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a damp cloth.  Leave to rise until it is double in size.  This will take from 1 – 2 hours depending on weather conditions.
        6. Punch down dough and divide in to 20 equal portions.
        7. Roll each dough portion in to a 7 – 8cm (2¾  – 3 ¼  inches) round.
        8. Place 1 tablespoon of filling in the centre of the round, gather the edges together at the top and place on a 8cm (3 inch) square of baking paper.  Repeat until all dough has been used.
        9. Cover and let rise for 20 minutes.
        1. Place buns in bamboo steamer, leaving space between the buns.
        2. Heat water in a wok until it is simmering and place steamers one on top of each other in the wok.
      1. Place lid on top bamboo steamer and steam for approximately 12 minutes.
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