It’s the week of resolutions and I give you Steamed Red Curry Pork Buns. I know, I’m evil. Hate me now, make these, love me later. These are by no account light or clean but that doesn’t mean they aren’t resolution-friendly. Okay, maybe if you’re looking to cut your calories or eat fewer carbs or less meat, then yes, these aren’t the buns you’re looking for. But if you’ve vowed to spend less on takeout or to cook at home more, these buns can and will serve you very well. Oh, and if you’ve decided to eat more delicious food in 2018, run, don’t walk because these babies are hella good.
There are a few things I don’t like about the how I move in the kitchen. I always feel like my knife skills are lacking. I wish I knew how to prepare a whole slew of things without the help of Chef Google. And I would give just about anything to pleat a dumpling like a pro.
Most of the time I just sigh at these wishes and try to find creative ways of hiding the holes in my culinary skills. But this year my resolution is to confront the aspects of cooking that frighten me. If that means practicing my julienne on every bell pepper that crosses my path, so be it. If that means pleating gyoza until my fingers bleed, bring it! If that means… you get the point.
Today’s Steamed Red Curry Pork Buns are my first foray into humbling resolution season. Am I happy with the pleats on these buns? Not particularly. They need a lot of work. Am I crazy to share less than stellar work with the internets? Well, I guess that is a matter of opinion. On the one hand, I think it’s important to show you guys that I struggle with a lot of things in the kitchen. It’s not always picture perfect. But the other potentially more rational hand thinks that people read the blog to see pretty, yummy things. These Red Curry Pork Buns are certainly yummy but they’re not exactly lookers.
So, I don’t know. Do you guys find it endearing? I posted less than perfect dumplings around this time last year and they seem to be a favorite on this site. So, maybe perfection isn’t as important to you as it is to me. We’re always our worst critics, amirite?
In the end, I decided to put my vanity aside and post these buns because they really are so SO good. And why would I deprive you all of a perfectly delicious recipe? You might all be wizards with steamed bun wrappers, anxious for some new take on your old favorite. Probably not, but I kind of hope that’s true – it would be just so absurd, like something out of Twin Peaks.
Anyway, as you can probably tell from the title Steamed Red Curry Pork Buns, you’re in Asian fusion territory. Nothing sacred here. I essentially made Shanghai-style braised pork belly but used my simple/favorite red curry base as the braising liquid. Once the pork was all fall-aparty, I skimmed the fat and let it cool. While the filling chilled, I made a classic bao dough with the help of Omnivore’s Cookbook. I combined the two and the result tasted much better than anticipated. The curry, which solidified when chilled, returned to its creamy consistency once the buns were steamed and it was f*cking magical.
Okay, that’s pretty much all you need to know about these Steamed Red Curry Pork Buns. They’re delicious, kind of nutso, and so worth your time. Think you can’t make them? Psssh! 2018 is all about concurring culinary fears, so dive in head first.
- Braised Red Curry Pork:
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 300g (10 oz) pork belly, chopped
- 1 (1 1/2 inch) knob ginger, minced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 1/2 tablespoons red curry paste
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon demerara sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 can coconut milk
- Juice of 1/2 lime
- 2-3 red chilies, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
- Bao Dough:
- 250 g (9 oz) all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dry active yeast
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup warm water
- For the Curry:
- In a large cast iron skillet melt the coconut oil over medium heat. Add the pork belly and sauté until browned on all sides. Transfer the meat to a plate lined with paper towel and set aside.
- Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the rendered fat from the pan. Add the garlic and ginger and sauté until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the soy sauce, curry paste, fish sauce, sugar and ground coriander and sauté until a paste forms and turns a slightly darker color, about 3 minutes. Add the coconut milk and bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Stir in the reserved pork and cover. Let simmer for 45 minutes.
- Remove the curry from the heat and stir in the lime juice, fresh coriander and red chilies. Set the curry aside to cool. Transfer the curry to a sealable container and let chill in the fridge for 2-3 hours.
- For the Dough:
- Whisk the flour, yeast and salt together in a large mixing bowl. Slowly add the water to the mixture until a shaggy dough forms - you might not have to use all of the water. Transfer the dough to a floured surface and knead until smooth and silky. Form the dough into a ball.
- Dust the bottom of a large bowl with additional flour. Place the dough in the bowl and cover with a clean, damp tea towel. Wrap the bowl in plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rise. Let rise for 2-3 hours or until doubled in size.
- Transfer the dough to a floured surface and knead until it is reduced to almost it's original size. Roll the dough into a snake-like shape and divide into 12 evenly-sized pieces. Roll each piece in a ball and, using a floured rolling pin, roll each ball out to form a circle roughly 3-inches in diameter. Try to make the edges at little thinner.
- To Assemble:
- Spoon roughly 2 tablespoons of the curry in the center of 1 of the bao skins. The curry should be thick enough that you can form it roughly into a ball shape. Pleat the edges of the bao skin together to form a sort of toque shape at the top of the bun. Place your thumb firmly in the center of the toque and twist the bun with your other hand. Refine the shape and set aside. Repeat with remaining skins and curry.
- In a large pot bring 3-inches of water to a rolling boil. Line a bamboo steamer with cabbage leaves or perforated parchment paper. Place the buns (five at a time) in the steamer and set the steamer in the boiling water. Cover and steam the buns for 10 minutes.
- Transfer the finished buns to a plate and serve immediately.