Sunday, January 11, 2009

A trip to the orient . . . .

I always love to try new recipes, and I have never really made one like this before. With it came a new spice called Chinese 5 spice powder which is a mix of anise, ginger, cinnamon and clove. Spices are a great way to add incredible depths of flavor to recipes without adding all the fat. And this one definitely has a unique complexity I haven't tasted before. I LOVE herbs and spices!
I also had to purchase a multi-tier bamboo steamer to make this recipe, which I would highly recommend because they are pretty cheap ($15) and are great way to make some fun and healthy recipes.
I really enjoy Chinese food, but can never seem to make it quite like the restaurant at home, but this recipe hit the mark for sure. Pork buns are Chinese fast food and can even be frozen for added convenience. The filling is rich and full of flavor and the dough is almost like the middle of a pretzel, soft and chewy. Yum!

Steamed Pork Buns (Char Siu Bao)
(adapted from CookingLight)


10 servings (serving size: 1 bun)


  • Chinese five-spice powder
  • 1 pound pork tenderloin, trimmed
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 cup thinly sliced green onions
  • 3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic

  • 1 cup warm water (100° to 110°)
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 package dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (about 14 2/3 ounces)
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
Cabbage leaves, banana leaves, or parchment paper lined inside the bamboo steamer to keep the buns from sticking.


1. To prepare dough, combine 1 cup warm water, sugar, and yeast in a large bowl; let stand 5 minutes.

2. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add flour, oil, and 1/4 teaspoon salt to yeast mixture; stir until a soft dough forms. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes). Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 1 hour or until doubled in size. (Gently press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, dough has risen enough.) Or you can use a kitchenaid mixer and dough hook for the mixing step.

3. While the dough is rising, to prepare the filling, rub five-spice powder evenly over pork. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Coat the pan with cooking spray. Add pork to pan; cook 18-20 minutes or until a thermometer registers 155°, turning pork occasionally. Remove pork from pan, and let stand 15 minutes.

4. Cut pork crosswise into thin slices; cut slices into thin strips. Place pork in a medium bowl. Add onions and next 6 ingredients (through minced garlic); stir well to combine. Cover and refrigerate.

5. After dough has risen, punch dough down; let rest 5 minutes. Turn dough out onto a clean surface; knead in baking powder. Let dough rest 5 minutes.

6. Divide dough into 10 equal portions, forming each into a ball. Working with one dough ball at a time (cover remaining dough balls to keep from drying), roll ball into a 5-inch circle. Place 1/4 cup filling in center of dough circle. Bring up sides to cover filling and meet on top. Pinch and seal closed with a twist. Repeat procedure with remaining dough balls and filling.

7. Arrange 5 buns seam side down on top of cabbage leaves, 1 inch apart, in each tier of a 2-tiered bamboo steamer. Stack tiers; cover with lid.

In this picture, we forgot to put down the cabbage leaves first . . . oops!


8. Add water to a large skillet to a depth of 1 inch; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Place steamer in pan; steam 15 minutes or until puffed and set. Cool 10 minutes before serving.

Nutritional Information

Calories: 259 (21% from fat)
Fat: 6.1g (sat 0.9g,mono 3.2g,poly 1.5g)
Protein: 14.3g
Carbohydrate: 35.7g
Fiber: 1.6g
Cholesterol: 27mg
Iron: 2.9mg
Sodium: 343mg
Calcium: 54mg

With this recipe we also made nice cucumber salad atop of romaine lettuce (In the background of the first picture). This is made for two but can be easily adjusted for more or less:

1/2 cup non-fat greek yogurt
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1/2 tsp honey
salt and pepper
About 1/2 small cucumber cut into matchsticks
mandarin orange segments, drained
2 tbsp chopped peanuts to sprinkle on top

Combine all ingredients, except peanuts and stir to combine. Adjust ingredients for taste. Spoon over chopped romaine and top with peanuts.

Hope you enjoy!

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