Thursday, 25 April 2013

Char siu Bao

This has to be one of my favourite little things to eat, it brings back incredible memories of Singapore, the culinary melting pot of south east Asia. Have you ever had a pre concieved notion of a country prior to visiting? I think in my mind I had already written off Singapore, I know it's crazy but before I travelled I thought that I hated big cities, I just want to publicly appologize to all you Singaporeans out there and mention that not only do I love big cities/ countries, Singapore was my favourite country in south east asia. If you love food this is the culinary epicentre of Asia, every cuisine that you could possibly think of is cooked here and is either completely authentic or has a Singaporean twist on the classic. For me breakfast in Singapore was a total revelation and I was instantly converted to the Singaporean way of starting the day, forget your toast and cereal, Singapore does breakfast how it should be. Each morning I would go to a local hawker stalls and peruse the many delights on offer, I did try a few various dishes, noodle soups, rotis, rice porridge, but I always came back to this dumpling, I became absolutely obsessed to the point where I would wake up a couple of hours earlier to get my fix, fearful that there would be no more and I would be left dumplingless. I know that this dumpling is most definately chinese in origin but this is my point i'm trying to make, you can get any cuisine you want in Singapore and it will be just as good if not better than the real thing. I will hold onto my days of sitting in a Hawker centre with a brightly coloured tray covered with dumplings forever, in the hope that I get back there some day. I have shown the traditional look of a char siu dumpling and also the American way of filling an open Bao, either way is delicious but I think the traditional is always best.

For the Filling Marinade:
You will need:

500g of belly pork 
1 tbsp of five spice powder
1 tbsp of yellow bean paste
1 tbsp of hoisin sauce
1 tsp of ground white pepper
1 tbsp of shao xing rice wine
2 tbsp of honey
1 tsp of sesame oil

Add all of the above ingredients into a bowl and allow it to marinate for at least an hour, transfer onto a baking tray lined with foil and cook for two and a half hours at 170 degrees c. Half way through the cooking you may have to cover the pork with foil to stop it from burning. When the pork is cooked remove the crackling and dice it into a small fine dice.

                   For the sauce for the pork:

1 tbsp of shao xing rice wine
2 tsp of runny honey
1 tsp of hoisin sauce
2 tbsp of sugar
1 tsp of soy sauce
1 tsp of black rice vinegar
1 finely minced Garlic clove
70ml of water

Combine all of the above ingredients in a pan and cook it for five to ten minutes on a high height until it begins to thicken to a syrupy consistency. Add the diced pork and stir it so that it is well coated. Set aside for later.

For the dough:

325g of strong white bread flour
1 tsp of baking powder
1 tsp of maldon salt
100g of caster sugar
100g of melted lard
200ml of lukewarm water
25g of fresh yeast

Combine the sugar, lukewarm water and melted lard and stir well, this should be blood temperature, by this I mean you should be able to dip your finger into the liquid and feel virtually no change in temperature from the temperature of your body. When it is blood temperature add the yeast and stir well to dissolve.

In a bowl or mixer place the flour, salt and baking powder and then slowly pour in the yeast solution, mix this either by hand, then knead for 10-15 minutes or mix in a mixer using the dough hook for 5-10 minutes, the dough should become elastic, by this I mean it should be able to be stretched without tearing, if it is tearing knead for a further 5-10 minutes. When the dough is ready place it back into the bowl and cover it with cling film, allow it to rise for and hour or until it has doubled in size. 
 When it has doubled in size knock it back by punching all of the air out of the dough. Take a ping pong sized amount of dough and roll it out to a 3mm thick disc, take a tablespoon of cooled belly pork filling and place it in the middle of the disc, using the side of the edge and pull it and create a crimp 5mm along, carry on pulling, crimping until the top begins to close, give it one last twist to close the dumpling. Steam the dumplings four at a time in a chinese bamboo steamer for 15 minutes.


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