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Pan Fried Pork Buns (Sheng Jian Bao)

I AM KIND OF a purist when it comes to SHENG JIAN BAO (生煎包). For a sheng jian bao to be good, the pork filling must capture all the essences of pork flavor. The bun must be fluffy, the filling must be juicy and porky, and the bottom must be seared to a crispy golden-brown. With that said, I generally dislike the following in my buns:

  • Milk
  • Five spice powder
  • Too much sesame oil
  • Vermicelli (whyyy?)

However, if you want to get creative with your buns, feel free to explore! Just don’t shoot down this bun until you’ve tried it.  

Step 1. Make the dough.

The dough will need some time to rise, so it’s best to start this first. You will need the following ingredients: 

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour or 360 grams
  • 1 ts active-dry yeast 
  • 1 ts granulated sugar 
  • 1/4 ts kosher salt
  • 1 1/4 cup water, 100°F or 38°C 

Dough making is the most exciting part! Keep in mind that your dough depends on many external factors such as humidity and temperature, so you might need to adjust the amount of flour in your recipe.

In a stand-mixer bowl, add the yeast, sugar and warm water and wait 5 minutes for the yeast to activate. In 5 minutes, bubbles of CO2 will rise to the top. This is a sign that your yeast is working. If you don’t see or hear any bubbles after 5 minutes, your yeast could be dead. 

Give the yeast a stir to incorporate the sediment at the bottom and add the flour and salt. Use the dough hook attachment in your stand mixer and mix on 4 for 10-15 minutes. Note: If you don’t have a stand mixer, you may hand-knead the dough for ~10 minutes.

After 5 minutes, your dough will look something like this. This is a sign that it is NOT done! The motion of stretching/kneading is very important to strengthen the gluten bonds in the flour to create a good dough. Under-kneading will result in flat bread, and over-kneading will result in tough bread. 

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After 10 minutes, it’s looking better… See how the gluten has strengthened to create elasticity? I kept it going for another 2 minutes after this point. 

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The dough will be a little sticky and wet. That’s fine! Cover the mixing bowl and let it rise for 30-40 minutes. The rising time will depend on the environmental temperature. The dough will rise more quickly in warmer temperatures. 

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Step 2. Make the filling.

Meanwhile, mix together all the filling ingredients and refrigerate until needed: 

  • 450 grams or 1 lb ground pork 
  • 1/4 cup cold, concentrated pork bone broth OR water
  • 2 Tb canola or vegetable oil
  • 1/4 ts sesame oil
  • 1 Tb light soy sauce 
  • 1/2 ts kosher salt 
  • 1/4 ts ground white pepper, fine 
  • 1 ts ginger, grated 
  • 3 stalks green onion, sliced finely

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Let’s check out our dough. It should have grown 50% by now. Poke the dough with your finger or the back of a wet spoon. If it doesn’t spring back, it is done. 

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Step 3. Form the buns.

Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and divide dough into 35 gram portions. Flatten into disks with rolling pin or hands. 

TO FORM THE BUN: Scoop a generous portion of filling into the center of the disk. Pinch the edge of the dough and pull to the center. Continue in a counter-clockwise motion, until all the edges have been folded. Pinch the center of the bun and twist to seal. 

Let the buns proof for 10 minutes before frying. 

At this point, you can flour and freeze the buns you wish to cook at a later time. They just need to be steamed slightly longer. 

Step 4. Pan fry them.

Heat a cast iron or any non-stick pan to medium heat and add 2 Tb oil to coat. Sear buns together until the bottom is golden-brown. 

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Add 1 cup water and cover with lid. Steam for 10 minutes.

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After 10 minutes, remove the lid and fry for another 5 minutes. This cause the remaining moisture to evaporate. 

Look at that fluffiness! How can you resist? Season with sesame seeds and serve with Chinkiang black vinegar. 

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Pan-Fried Pork Buns
Serves 5
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Prep Time
1 hr 15 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
1 hr 30 min
Prep Time
1 hr 15 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
1 hr 30 min
Dough
  1. 3 cups all-purpose flour or 360 grams
  2. 1 ts active-dry yeast
  3. 1 ts granulated sugar
  4. 1/4 ts kosher salt
  5. 1 1/4 cup water, 100°F or 38°C
Filling
  1. 450 grams or 1 lb ground pork
  2. 1/4 cup cold, concentrated pork bone broth OR water
  3. 2 Tb canola or vegetable oil
  4. 1/4 ts sesame oil
  5. 1 Tb light soy sauce
  6. 1/2 ts kosher salt
  7. 1/4 ts ground white pepper, fine
  8. 1 ts ginger, grated
  9. 3 stalks green onion, sliced finely
Cooking
  1. 2 Tb canola oil
  2. 1 cup water
Serving
  1. Sesame seeds, toasted
  2. Green onion, sliced
  3. Chinkiang black vinegar
Instructions
  1. In a stand-mixer bowl, add the yeast, sugar and warm water and wait 5 minutes for the yeast to activate.
  2. Give the yeast a stir to incorporate the sediment at the bottom and add the flour and salt. Use the dough hook attachment in your stand mixer and mix on med-low for 10-15 minutes. If kneading by hand, flour the dough and knead for 10 minutes.
  3. The dough will be a little sticky and wet. That’s fine! Cover the mixing bowl and let it rise for 30-40 minutes or until imprint on dough doesn't bounce back.
  4. Meanwhile, mix together all the filling ingredients and refrigerate until needed.
  5. Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and divide dough into 35 gram portions. Flatten into disks with rolling pin or hands.
  6. Form the buns. (See explanation)
  7. Let the buns proof for 10 minutes before frying.
  8. Heat a cast iron pan to medium heat and add 2 Tb oil to coat. Sear buns together until the bottom is golden-brown.
  9. Add 1 cup water and cover with lid. Steam for 10 minutes.
  10. After 10 minutes, remove the lid and fry for another 5 minutes. This cause the remaining moisture to evaporate.
  11. Season with sesame seeds, green onion, and serve with Chinkiang black vinegar.
Little Tomato http://littletomatoblog.com/

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