Susan Jung's recipes

Video: Home Cooking with Susan Jung - pan-fried meat buns with pork and chives

These buns, based on ones bought from a Hong Kong hawker, are a delicious, juicy treat

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 28 May, 2015, 7:01am
UPDATED : Thursday, 30 June, 2016, 3:25pm

WATCH: Susan Jung makes pan-fried meat buns filled with pork and chives 

I used to buy these delicious juicy meat buns from a street-food vendor in Hong Kong, and also from a small noodle shop in Causeway Bay. One day, the street vendor wasn't in his usual location (I never found him again),  and shortly after that, the noodle shop closed. So I taught myself how to make the buns.

The secret to these buns is using a jellied stock. You need a small amount of homemade meat stock - which can be from pork and/or chicken - which you then simmer with pork skin, which is rich with gelatin. When the stock is cold, it will be gently set and jelly-like. The stock is then mixed with the other ingredients and when the bun is pan-fried, the stock turns into a liquid, making the filling juicy.

Be sure to buy the Chinese chives that are dark green and flat (they're sometimes called Chinese leeks); don't use the tubular type called flowering chives because they're much tougher. 

The dough uses a typical Chinese technique of adding boiling water, which prevents the flour from developing too much gluten. It's very easy to roll out.

For the jellied stock:

100ml homemade stock (made of chicken, pork or a combination of both)
A 6cm x 6cm piece of pork skin
For the dough:
450 grams plain (all-purpose) flour
240ml boiling water

For the filling: 

500 grams minced pork (buy pork with a fair amount of fat)
80 grams finely minced Chinese chives
5 grams finely minced or grated ginger
20ml soy sauce
10ml rice wine
5ml sesame oi
1/2 tsp granulated sugar
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
A pinch of ground white pepper
The pig-skin enriched stock

For cooking and serving: 

Oil, for pan-frying
Brown vinegar and/or Chinese chilli paste (optional)

Make the jellied stock in advance so it has time to cool. Put the stock and pork skin in a small saucepan, bring to the boil then lower the heat. Cover the pan and cook at a low simmer until the skin is tender. Cool to room temperature. Remove the skin and, holding it over the saucepan, squeeze as much liquid as possible into the stock. Discard the skin and put the stock in the fridge to cool until set.

Mix the minced pork with the chives, ginger, soy sauce, rice wine, sesame oil, sugar, salt and pepper. Shape a small amount of the filling into a meatball and pan-fry it in a skillet, then taste to see if the seasonings are correct. If needed, adjust the seasonings. Cut the jellied stock into small pieces and mix it into the filling. Cover the filling with cling-film then refrigerate for at least two hours.

Make the dough. Put the flour in a bowl, add the boiling water and mix with a wooden spoon. As soon as the dough is cool enough to handle, knead it with your hands until it's cohesive and smooth. If it's dry, add a little more boiling water; if it's sticky, add a small amount of flour. Wrap it in cling-film and leave to rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. 

Unwrap the dough, then roll it into a long snake. Cut the dough into 24 pieces. Shape each piece of dough into a ball, put them close together on a work surface, then cover them with a clean dish towel. 

Roll each piece of dough into a circle that's 8-10cm in diameter, flattening the edges so they're slightly thinner than the centre. 

Spoon some of the filling into the centre of the circle - you want the bun to be as full as possible without making any holes in the wrapper. Gently pull the dough over the filling and firmly pinch the seams to seal the bun - if necessary, use a little water to dampen the edges slightly so they stick. Shape the meat bun into a round ball, then gently flatten it into a disc, seam side-down.

As each bun is finished, lay it on a lightly oiled pan. When all the buns are shaped, drape a lightly oiled piece of cling-film over them and chill for at least 30 minutes.

Heat a well-oiled skillet over a medium flame. When the skillet is hot, add one layer of meat buns seam side-down (you'll need to cook them in batches). Pan-fry the buns for about five minutes in total, flipping them over once, and adjusting the heat as needed so they're medium-golden on each side.  
Serve the buns hot, with vinegar and/or chilli paste, if desired.