Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Steamed Char Sui Bao

We have the opportunity to use our Bamboo Steamer?  Cool!

With no ingredients to cause us stress from an eating point of view, the only decision for us was whether to bake or to steam.  It's good to see the steamer on the stove, so steaming it was...

Rounding up the ingredients was a mostly non-event as almost everything we needed already has a place jammedstored nicely in the fridge or in the cupboard.  The couple of things we didn't have we elected to follow the substitution guidelines or guess our own substitution mostly because our jammednicely arranged shelves really don't need another couple of bottles of fun stuff only missing a tablespoon or two.


Day 1

Our pork supplier did a grand job cleaning up our tenderloins as there was hardly anything that needed cleaning up. In fact it took longer for the marinade person to put that together than for the other to clean up the tenderloins and cut into the suggested sizes.

For the marinade we substituted:

  • the light soy with dark soy - not even sure we knew there were two types until now...
  • the maltose with honey
  • the shaoxing cooking wine with sherry - we weren't sure if it was a white or a red and sherry is sort of kind of in the middle in a generous sort of substitution way ...
  • five spice with asian spice blend - actually, we're kind of surprised and / or embarrassed that we don't have any...

And then we got everyone in the pool.  Mixed a bit, saved a bit and coated the [easily] prepared pork.  Into the fridge, and back to the TV (and then bed and then a day of chores) to allow time to do its thing.

Day 2 - Part 1

We went with the sear then oven method for cooking.  A little confusion in that the bake only time suggested was shorter than for our chosen option.  Ultimately we went a little bit longer than the recommended 15 minutes, but we think that has a lot to do with the many times the oven door was opened while we basted - this strongly suggests that the bake only method would need at least this long too, but we didn't experiment.

We also saved a little less than suggested of the marinade for basting as we were a bit nervous therre wasn't enough in the bowl to do the marinating.  Turns out we had just the right amount for basting so we lucked into a win win there.


A little bit of char on the outside from the pan and lots of sticky goodness only adding to that from the basting.  We have no doubt it looks the way it should!

Chopping it up for the next step was a challenge.  Not because it's hard to chop, but it's hard not to get too carried away with the sampling!  It's tasty!

Day 2 - Part 2

Once we 'suffered' through the chopping of the Pork Loin part everything else was straightforward enough.  We perhaps could argue no substitutions were made for this part, but remember that whole dark v light soy thing?

It didn't thicken as quickly as suggested.  Rather than trying to add in more cornflour and therefore double the opportunity for lumps we simmered a bit longer using evaporation to help out here.  Drat!  Looks like we did have a substitution of a sort...


Tasty!  Yeah, we had more than a quick taste and we know this is still not supposed to be the eating part of the day...  Rich, but not crazy rich.  Definitely moorish. 


Hmmmm...  What does scald milk mean?  Google was only moderately helpful because it seems they don't really know the answer either with many variations / interpretations / directions to get the job done.  We went with heat over medium heat until just about boiling and used the visual cue of a few bubbles around the side.

After adding some treats into the milk (for the record, the oil does not look good sitting on top during this cooling) we didn't have to sit around waiting for luke-warm to appear because we were actually doing this concurrently with the pork.  The yeast did it's magic and then it was time to get the elbow grease out and knead away - we tagged out a couple of times along the way.

Timing was on our side for a change.  The dough was easily twice it's size in just over an hour so we were able to get going on the assembly way earlier than expected.  YAY!

Dividing and rolling and spooning all went well (although we had 2 'buns' with no filling - probably related to the over sampling of earlier in the evening).  The sealing up, not so much.  We found the only way we could keep them together was with a bit of water along the joins.  No big deal, but we weren't prepared for this eventuality causing us at least a minute - probably more like a minute and a half - of panic.

The extra bit of raising didn't go so well.  We completely skipped over it.  We're blaming the tastiness of the filling and the need to get this done as quickly as possible combined with the panic of the sealing up issues.  Sorry about that.  Oh well...

The steaming went fine in terms of timing and extraction, but some of them had parts that looked a little translucent almost and not the even white color and texture we were expecting.  Is that because we didn't give them that extra bit of rising?


The translucent parts only affected the prettiness factor because we think they still tasted great.  We were kind of bummed we only had one layer in our steamer and therefore were forced into 2 courses rather than all at once.  But we got through that distress thanks to the help of our TV and a bottle of wine...

Recipes & Destructions Instructions



It was tasty and filling and easy to round up the ingredients and not hard to put them all together.  Not as pretty as we would have liked (but that's probably our fault), and therefore not something we could 'risk' serving up to friends (unless it could be proved that our skipping of the extra bit of raising was the cause).  But the pork when it still looked like a loin could easily be incorporated into a have friends over for dinner arrangement.

Our Wine Club suggested that a Bourdeaux type blend out of Mankas Vineyards, called 'Amelie' would work with BBQ pork so out it came.  Our opinion is that no harm was done to the pork by the wine and vice versa, but no great improvements either - but that's just our opinion.


Our Daring Cooks’ December 2012 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!

Comments pre Blog Platform Change

Andy responded:
I always love your posts! They are so much fun to read. I too had the same question about "scald". And I steamed the first buns without letting them rise a second time, and I got to tell you, the extra rising really does help with the way the look in the end.
Great job!

Shelley C responded:
As always, great post! Yeah, the sampling portion of the process can easily go overboard with a recipe like this, because that filling was just so tasty and easy to eat!! Sounds like everything went really well, even with the minor panic in there, and that you had a delicious dinner!! Great job :)

Brian responded:
What a great post! I'm glad that everything worked out well.

Cher responded:
Fun post - glad you survived your adventure!