It’s Monday already? Where has the time gone?
Jack and Laura
Oh, right, Laura popped out a little baby boy! 😄
It has been an absolutely amazing week. We got home from the hospital on Saturday, and it has been nonstop for us ever since. My internet presence has definitely decreased. It is weird for both of us to be home all the time, tending to our little bundle. I find myself constantly cleaning and doing laundry in addition to the consolations, feedings, and burpings.
So, although things have certainly been busier for us, one thing remains a constant; we gotta eat. I ate a ridiculous amount of fast food, as the hospital (Army hospital) didn’t feed me (the guy in the Army,) so some healthy food was due. We had a hankering for some Chinese/Japanese fare, and I thought char siu pork ju bao, known as manapua here on the islands, would do the trick
I’ve seen char siu pork done a few different ways. Some will take pork loin (or even tenderloin) and let it sit in char siu marinade over night, and then roast it until done. This is then sliced and served as is. Others will use a pork butt and roast it very slowly in the marinade until it falls apart, and shred it for filling a variety of different dumplings. Similar to the latter, I decided to let my crock pot do the work for me. Instead of marinating the pork or cooking it in the marinade, however, I just braised it in water with mirepoix (a mixture of a 2 parts onion, 2 parts celery, and 1 part carrot, roughly chopped.) This not only gives the pork a nice subtle flavor, but I get pork broth in the end that I can use for other things. After I shred the pork, I add the char siu marinade directly, which soaks up nicely. I still recommend the crock pot (since you can set it and forget it), but it’s up to you if you want to cook the butt in the marinade or use my method.
Also, since we’re trying to cut out extra calories, I ended up trimming most of the fat away from the meat, to include the fat that marbles within. This actually cuts the cooking time down a bit, since I had to cut the butt in half to get to the fat.
Char Siu Pork Ju Bao with Cold Soba Noodles and Japanese Cucumber Salad
For the Pork
Makes about 3 pounds
- 3 pounds of pork butt (shoulder)
- 1 onion, roughly chopped
- 2 stalks of celery, roughly chopped
- 1 carrot, roughly chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 3 Tablespoons of sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon of Chinese five-spice
- 4 and 1/2 Tablespoons of hoisin
- 3 Tablespoons of honey
- 3 Tablespoons of rice wine (Mirin)
- 4 Tablespoons of soy sauce
- 1 Tablespoon of sesame oil
- 1/4 teaspoon of ginger powder
i love pork
- Trim the fat away from the pork butt, if desired. Fat equals flavor, so this isn’t necessary unless you want to cut some calories
- Place chopped onions, celery, carrot, and pork butt in a crock pot or other slow cooker and fill with water to cover 3/4 of the pork. Place lid on top and set on high. Cook for 4 to 6 hours, until very tender and falling apart.
Pork Butt in the Crock
- Combine garlic, sugar, five spice, hoisin, honey, mirin, soy sauce, sesame oil, and ginger powder in a small bowl. Whisk until combined.
Ingredients for char siu marinade
- Remove pork from crock pot using a slotted spatula and place in a bowl. Pull apart with two forks. Add char siu marinade and mix until combined. Refrigerate to chill.
Pulled char siu pork
Makes about 9 medium sized buns (3 ounces each)
My first time using this recipe yielded a very wet dough. I added a good amount of flour, but I’m not sure how much. I’m guesstimating, erring on the side of too much. It’s much easier to add water to an under-hydrated dough than to add flour to an over hydrated dough.
- 1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons of milk
- 4 Tablespoons of butter
- 2 and 1/2 Tablespoons of water
- 2 teaspoons of instant dry yeast or 2 and 1/2 teaspoons of active dry yeast
- 1 egg
- 2 and 1/2 Tablespoons of sugar
- 14 and 1/2 ounces of all purpose flour
- 2 Tablespoons of honey, thinned with water for brushing
but mostly pork
- We are using a straight dough method. Nothing fancy here. But first, we need to combine the butter with the milk in a small sauce pan and heat until just melted.
- If using active dry yeast, it needs to be activated. Combine the yeast with the water and stir until dissolved.
- Using a kitchenaid style mixer with a dough hook attachment, combine the ingredients in the following order: Milk mixture, yeast, water (if using instant yeast), flour, egg, and sugar. Mix on low until thoroughly combined.
- Increase speed to 2 or 3 on mixer and mix for an additional 8 minutes. Dough should spring back when pressed.
I mixed mine by hand, because I was feeling elite
- Transfer to a greased bowl and lightly spray the top of the dough. Place a plastic grocery bag over the top. This is a very quick rising dough, so set a timer for 30 minutes.
- After the first thirty minutes has passed, it is time to fold the dough. Remove the plastic and lightly flour the top. Plop the dough onto the counter and fold the dough down halfway. Fold the top half up and over and then do the same with the left side and the right. Place the dough back into the bowl, folded side down. Cover again with the plastic and let rise for another 30 minutes.
After the first rise
- Now it’s time to divide the dough into 3 ounce portions. Plop the dough back onto the counter. Cut in half horizontally and then cut the portions from the halves. The last dough ball may be just a little short on the weight, but this is ok. Roll the portions into balls forming a tight skin. Place on the counter a few inches apart and cover again. Let rest for about 10 minutes.
Divide the dough
- The balls will have relaxed and risen just a little, so roll them into balls again and place them on a lightly sprayed sheet pan. Spray the tops again and cover with plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator until ready to make the stuffed buns, or for at least half an hour.
Roll into balls
bao b b bao b bao bao bao
To make the ju bao
- Using a rolling pin and sparse amounts of flour to keep from sticking, gently roll out each dough ball into six inch diameter rounds. The trick for these is to make sure the center of the round is thicker and the edges are thin.
Make sure to leave the center a little thicker
- When all are rolled out, place a generous amount of char siu pork in the middle. Grab an edge of the dough and fold up just above the middle of the pork. Just to the right of that first edge, fold up again, overlapping the first fold, and place in the center again. Do this all the way around until the dumpling is closed. Pinch the center together to ensure a seal. Place seam side down on a greased sheet pan.
Stuff each dough with pork
- Folding these dumplings takes a bit of practice. Just look at mine. They don’t really look that great, so don’t be disappointed if they don’t come out the way you like.
- Remember that honey and water mixture you made earlier? Brush that over the top of each bun.
Brush the tops with thinned out honey
- Place a damp cloth over the buns and let rise for about 30 minutes. In the meantime, preheat the oven at 375 degrees F.
- When ready, bake the buns for about 15 to 18 minutes, until golden brown.
fun fact: soba is made with buckwheat and often yams
Cold Soba Noodles
Makes two servings
- 1 bundle of soba noodles. Somen can be substituted if that is your preference
- 1 teaspoon of sesame oil
- 1 Tablespoon of soy sauce
- 1 Tablespoon of sweet rice wine (Mirin)
- 1/4 teaspoon of sambal oelek (Optional. Sriracha can be used as well)
- 1 scallion, sliced on the bias
and they’re healthy
- Cook the noodles in boiling water. It takes about 3-4 minutes, so don’t walk away. Strain into a colander and cool with cold running water.
- Transfer to a plastic container with a lid and add sesame oil. This prevents the noodles from sticking to each other. Chill in the refrigerator
- Combine soy sauce, mirin, and sambal and mix well. When ready to serve the noodles, combine with the soy dressing and garnish with the scallions.
cucumbers are tasty
Japanese Cucumber Salad
Makes two servings
- About 1/3 of a Japanese cucumber. An English cucumber can also be used. Or a regular one if you can’t find either.
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 1 Tablespoon rice wine vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon of honey
- 1/2 teaspoon of sesame seeds
- Slice the cucumber as thinly as possible. Toss with salt in a bowl and let sit for two minutes
- Combine rice wine vinegar, honey and sesame seeds. Pour over cucumbers. Chill.
- Plate everything up and serve!
They are absolutely as good as they look
Of course, you’re going to have extra char siu pork leftover, as well as prepared buns. I put the buns in a ziplock and stored them in the fridge. 30 seconds in the microwave, and you have lunch! The pork can be served as is, in stir fry’s, or other Japanese or Chinese style dumplings (they would make awesome gyoza!)
Oh, and here’s some more pics of Jack 😉