Crispy bottom aside, these are delicious. :d They require some random ingredients more commonly found in a Chinese pantry, but, as silly as this is, I'm getting happy that my cabinets are more filled with Chinese condiments/ingredients such as Sriracha, rice wine vinegar, and Shaoxing cooking wine. I get a little smile from opening my cabinets.
Anyhow, the dough is fairly easy, and aside from draining the cabbage, it's actually a pretty simple recipe. The only majorly annoying part is (a) making sure you have all the ingredients, and (b) figuring out the best way to quickly pleat the buns so they come out pretty and the first ones aren't overly-risen by the time you finish making the last one. Anyhow, recipe behind the cut. :)
Sheng Jian Bao
Makes 25-30 buns. Adapted from Chowhound.
* 1 recipe for bun dough
* 3/4-1 cup shredded/finely chopped napa cabbage
* 1/4 tsp of salt
* 1 lb ground pork (preferably a fattier pork)
* 1/2 tsp sugar
* 2 TBSP soy sauce
* 2 TBSP Shaoxing cooking wine (can substitute with apple or white grape juice)
* 1 tsp sesame oil
* 1/8 tsp white pepper
* 2 tsp freshly grated ginger
* 2-3 stalks finely chopped green onion stalks
* 1 TBSP oyster sauce
* 1 tsp cornstarch
Directions (Takes 1-2 hours)
1. Mix together cabbage and salt and place in a cheesecloth or a couple paper towels. This is to take out any extra moisture the cabbage has (which is a lot!). Let sit white you prepare the dough.
2. Make dough. (I made the dough with a 1:3 ratio of whole wheat flour to AP flour, and it worked out well, too!) Cut dough into ~25 equal pieces, and let rest for 20 minutes. While resting, make pork mixture.
3. Mix together pork, sugar, soy sauce, Shaoxing, sesame oil, white pepper, ginger, green onion, oyster sauce, and cornstarch using a wooden spoon, or even better, with your hands/fingers until the mixture is smooth with no chunks. Drain cabbage, squeezing out any extra moisture, and add to meat mixture. Mix well.
4. Roll dough pieces into circles, making sure that the center is thicker and the edges are thinner. Place 1-2 TBSP of the pork mixture into the center of the dough. Pleat/fold the dough into the center, and then twist the top to seal it. Make sure it's sealed tightly, or else the juices will flow out!
5. Heat 1-2 TBSP of vegetable oil in a large pan. Place the buns right-side up into the pan while the oil is heating up. After the pan is hot, pout 1 1/2 cups of cold water mixed with 1 TBSP of rice wine vinegar (optional, but it supposedly helps make the bottoms crispier) into the pan and cover. This will help steam the rest of the bun and cook it through and through. Let cook/steam for ~20 minutes, or until water has mostly evaporated.
6. The buns should look puffy. The first time around, you can check the inside of one to make sure that the pork is cooked through to double check on the cooking time. If it is done, remove buns from the pan.
7. It is optional, but often, Sheng Jian Bao is served bottom-up to keep the bottom crispy. Be careful... I had some problems with the bottoms sticking to the pan and the rest coming off. :( It's okay... just scrape it off and eat it anyway. ;) Serve hot with some soy sauce mixed with some rice wine vinegar!
(See the poor buns without bottoms? ...I ate it, nommy.)
If you're making this for only one or two people and you're not superhuman and can't finish all 25-30 buns, you can put it in an airtight container in the refrigerator and either microwave it wrapped with a wet paper towel, or try re-heating it on the stove. I'm sure these could keep in the freezer as well. I haven't tried, but it might work freezing them before cooking, too! I've been considering playing around with the filling... maybe Shitakke mushrooms? We'll see.