Japanese-style Steamed Pork Buns (AKA Nikuman)

I’m subscribed to a really great Japanese cooking channel on YouTube called ochikeron. I like her recipes because they’re usually simple and easy to follow, plus she has a whole bunch of recipes that are no diary, no gluten, etc.

She had this really easy recipe for steamed pork buns that I just had to try because they seemed so similar to the steamed pork buns that I’d get at Chinese dim sum.

Since my local grocery store doesn’t really have ground pork in packages less than a pound, I usually make double the recipe (using 1/2 pound of ground pork) and freeze the other half. The doubled recipe I use is below. I also converted all the metric units to good old cups/pounds/etc, haha.

Ingredients

For dough:

  • 3 1/8 cups (or 3 cups and 3 tbsp) all purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp baking powder
  • 4 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 0.85 (a little more than 4/5) cups milk
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil

For filling:

  • 1/2 lb pork
  • 1 long onion (or green onion or scallion, about 8 inch long)
  • 1 tsp grated or ground ginger
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 8 Chinese chives, chopped (or normal chives)
  • Salt and pepper

For cooking:

  • Cooking oil (like vegetable oil)
  • 3/4 cups water
  • A little extra sesame oil
  • Soy sauce and/or Japanese mustard, as dipping sauce

Instructions

  1. Sift the flour, baking powder and granulated sugar together in a bowl.
  2. Add milk and sesame oil, then knead with hands until combined and it feels like dough.
  3. Form a ball of dough, wrap in plastic wrap and let it set for 20 minutes.
  4. Combine all ingredients for the filling in a bowl until smooth.
  5. Divide the filling into 16 equal balls. Divide the dough into 16 equal pieces.
  6. Use a rolling pin to flatten each piece of dough. Place a ball of filling in the center.
  7. Use your fingers to pull and pinch the sides of the dough together, forming a seal at the top. (Watch the video for a good demonstration)
  8. Heat the cooking oil in a frying pan.
  9. Place half of the buns in the heated pan for about a minute, until the bottoms are slightly browned.
  10. Add 3/4 cups water and cover the buns. Turn heat to medium-low and steam for about 8-9 minutes until cooked.
  11. Uncovered, add a little extra sesame oil and fry on high heat until water is gone and the bun bottoms are crisp.
  12. Repeat steps 8-11 for the other half of the buns.

Some notes after I tried to do this a few times:

I had a really hard time getting the buns to not stick to the frying pan after they’re done steaming. I find that you need to make sure that the bottom of the buns are fried enough and not sticking to the pan before adding the water. Also, the bottoms burn easily, so you really have to watch them. This was the most challenging part for me.

I tried to cook about 10-12 at a time the first time, but the buns expanded way too much and stuck together. Cooking about 8 at a time, as recommended,  is definitely much better.

I didn’t have Japanese mustard, so I used a combination of soy sauce, sesame oil, a little bit of chile paste and a little bit of ground ginger as a sauce. The more soy sauce you use, the saltier it will be! Fresh ginger would also be great.

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