One of the cleverest contributions to cuisine – worthy of a Nobel Prize (if the Nobel committee gave prizes for food) – is the Chinese technique of jellifying a meat stock, then using the chilled, solid gel as part of a meaty filling for a bun or dumpling. In the heat of the oven, steamer or skillet the jellied stock turns to liquid, so when you bite into the bun or dumpling, the filling is very juicy. You have to be careful when biting into it, or else the delicious juices will spurt out. I always warn people to bite a small hole in the dough, then carefully (because it’s hot!) suck out some of the juice. Pan-fried juicy meat buns Traditionally, the meat stock would have been simmered with pig skin or feet, or another ingredient that contains a lot of gelatin. Today, it’s more convenient to use powdered gelatin. While I used to insist on using home-made stock, I now usually buy commercial broth. For these meat buns, I prefer shelf-stable Korean beef stock/broth, which is sold in resealable pouches. You can also use canned broth, although sometimes, the flavour of the vegetables (such as celery or carrot) is too strong. The salt level of commercial broth varies from brand to brand, so if the one you use is very salty, use slightly less salt in this recipe. If you can’t find a good commercial beef stock, use chicken stock. I usually make this recipe with beef, but lamb is good, too. If possible, buy medium-ground minced beef or lamb. Meat that’s ground too finely can be pasty, and medium-ground beef or lamb has a better texture. The meat filling has to be very cold before it is wrapped in the dough so that the jellied stock will remain firm. For the jellied stock: 1¼ tsp powdered gelatin 60ml (¼ cup) beef or chicken stock For the filling: 500 grams (18 0z) minced beef or lamb 90 grams (3 oz) spring onions 60 grams (2 oz) flat chives 2-3 large garlic cloves, peeled A 2cm (¾ in) piece of peeled ginger How to make Macanese pasteis de nata, Macau-style Portuguese egg tarts 20ml (4 tsp) light soy sauce 15ml (1 tbsp) rice wine 5ml (1 tsp) sesame oil ¾ tsp granulated sugar ½-¾ tsp fine sea salt ¼ tsp finely ground white pepper How to make Southeast Asian ceviche with avocado and tortilla chips ¼-½ tsp freshly ground black pepper 1 tbsp cornstarch (cornflour) Cooking oil, as necessary For the dough: 450 grams (16 oz) plain (all-purpose) flour, plus extra for shaping the dough ¼ tsp instant or dry yeast 20 grams (4 tsp) granulated sugar 1 tsp fine sea salt 30ml (2 tbsp) cooking oil To serve: Chinese brown vinegar and/or chilli sauce How to make sake-steamed clams with butter, leeks, seaweed and udon noodles 1 Pour 15ml (1 tbsp) of cool water into a small bowl, then slowly sprinkle half the gelatin over the top, letting it absorb the water. Pour another 15ml (1 tbsp) of water into the bowl, then sprinkle in the remaining gelatin. Leave for about five minutes. 2 Heat the beef or chicken stock until it is about 70 degrees Celsius (160 degrees Fahrenheit). Add the gelatin/water to the stock and stir to dissolve. Pour into a shallow dish, then refrigerate for about two hours, or until set. 3 Finely mince the spring onions and chives. Use a grater (preferably a ceramic oroshigane) to finely grate the ginger until you have one teaspoon. Grate the garlic cloves. 4 Put the beef or lamb in a bowl and add the spring onion, chives, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, rice wine, sesame oil, sugar, salt, white and black pepper and cornstarch. Mix thoroughly. 5 Pan-fry a small amount of the meat mixture. Taste for seasonings and correct, if necessary. Cover the bowl and refrigerate the mixture. 6 Make the dough. Pour 20ml (4 tsp) of tepid water into a small bowl, add the yeast and mix. 7 Put the flour into a bowl and mix in the sugar and salt. Add 30ml (2 tbsp) of cooking oil, 240ml (1 cup) of tepid water and the yeast mixture. Mix until you have a smooth, slightly damp dough that’s just a little sticky. If it is too wet, mix in a little more flour, if it is dry, add a little more water. Shape the dough into a ball, place it back in the mixing bowl, then cover with a dry dishcloth and leave at room temperature for about an hour, or until puffy and light (it won’t double in size). 8 Cut the solidified jelly into small pieces and mix into the meat filling. Weigh the mixture and divide into 12 evenly sized portions. Shape the portions into balls, then refrigerate until needed. 9 Weigh the dough and divide it into 12 evenly sized portions. Shape each portion into a ball. 10 On a lightly floured work surface, press a ball of dough with your hands until it is about 10cm (4 in) in diameter, thicker in the middle and very thin around the perimeter. Place a ball of meat filling in the centre of the dough. Pull up and pleat the edges of the dough, stretching it as necessary, to fully enclose the meat mixture. Firmly pinch the pleats so the top is sealed tightly, then press gently to flatten it so it is about 8cm (3in) in diameter. Shape several buns, then refrigerate them while preparing the remaining dough and meat filling. Chill all the buns until you are ready to cook them. How to make chocolate and caramel verrines with salted peanut praline 11 Heat a skillet (preferably cast iron) over a medium-low flame. Pour in about 45ml (3 tbsp) of cooking oil and when it is hot, place four to six of the meat buns pleated-side down in the skillet. The meat buns should not touch each other. 12 Cover the pan with the lid, then cook the buns for about two minutes, or until the bottoms of the buns are medium brown. Adjust the flame as necessary, so the buns cook evenly and don’t brown too fast. 13 Lower the flame, flip the buns over and cover the pan. Cook for about a minute, then uncover the pan. Add more oil to the skillet so the buns sizzle gently. 14 Cook, uncovered, for about three more minutes, adjusting the flame so the buns don’t get too dark, and move them around in the pan so they brown evenly. Don’t flip the buns over again because the liquid might seep out if the pleats weren’t sealed sufficiently. The buns take about six minutes in total to cook. Cook the remaining buns the same way. 15 Remove the buns from the skillet and serve with brown vinegar and/or chilli sauce. To reheat, pan-fry them over a low flame, starting seam-side down and finishing them with the seam-side up. Styling: Nellie Ming Lee Like this recipe? Look for more in the SCMP Post Magazine , or on SCMP Cooking .