These little buns are both extremely easy and crazy hard to make. The filling takes no time to throw together and the aspic is weirdly enjoyable in a morbid curiosity sort of way. Pleating the dough however, is like trying to give a cat a pill. The videos I watched made it seem like it would somehow come together once you started working those folds, but this takes some sort of magic I do not possess. Just get them sealed at the top. See that picture? Are they pretty? No. Are they one of the most prefect bites of food you'll ever have? YES.
Ingredients are listed in the order they appear in the recipe and anything that requires prep is in bold. Ingredients are bolded in the directions when you first encounter them as well as when they are reintroduced after being set aside. All ingredients are Capitalized.
Source recipe: The Woks of Life
½ pound Pork Skin
1 pound Pork Neck Bones, with meat attached
½ ounce Ginger, sliced
1 Scallion, torn
1 Tablespoon Shaoxing Wine
1 cup All-Purpose Flour
6 Tablespoons warm Water, plus more as needed
1 pound Ground Pork
2 Tablespoons Shaoxing Wine
¾ teaspoon Salt
½ teaspoon Sesame Oil
¾ teaspoon Sugar
3 teaspoons light Soy Sauce
3 Tablespoons Water
⅛ teaspoon Ground White Pepper
1 Tablespoon Ginger, minced
Cabbage Leaves (or cheese cloth)
Chinese Black Vinegar
fresh Ginger, julienned
Metal Steamer Pot or Bamboo Steamer and Wok
You’ll need to make the Aspic the night before so it has time to cool and set.
To make the Aspic, in a stock pot, add ½ lb. Pork Skin and 1 lb. Pork Neck Bones and cover with cold water. Clean these quickly by bringing the water to a rolling boil, and immediately draining and rinsing off the bones and the skin. Rinse out the pot and put the Pork back in. Add 4 cups Water, ½ oz sliced Ginger, 1 Scallion torn into a few pieces and 1 Tbs Shaoxing Wine. Bring the pot to a boil and then reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer for 2 hours.
After 2 hours, turn off the heat. Allow the soup to cool, and strain the liquid into a bowl. Once the liquid is completely cooled, cover and refrigerate overnight.
To make the Dough, in a mixing bowl, add 1 cup All-Purpose Flour. Add the Warm Water 1 Tablespoon at a time while kneading until all 6 have been added. Work and knead the dough for 15-20 minutes. If the dough feels overly dry add 1 additional Tbs of Warm Water. The dough should be very soft and smooth. Cover with a cloth and let it rest for 30 minutes.
To make the Filling, put 1 lb. Ground Pork in the Food Processor. Pulse for 30-60 seconds until the Pork resembles paste. Add 2 Tbs Shaoxing Wine, ¾ tsp Salt, ½ tps Sesame Oil, ¾ tsp Sugar, 3 tsp light Soy Sauce, 3 Tsp Water and ⅛ tsp Ground White Pepper to the Food Processor. Mince 1 Tbs Ginger and add to Processor. Pulse until everything is extremely well combined. The mixture should look like a pink, airy paste.
Cover and transfer the Filling to the refrigerator until ready to make the dumplings. Remove Aspic from the refrigerator and cut into ½ in. cubes. Return to the fridge but keep separate from Filling until assembling dumplings. If you’re ready now, you can put both in the freezer for 15 minutes to allow them to firm up and make assembling the buns easier.
To Assemble, lightly dust a clean work surface with flour and roll the Dough into a long cylinder, about an inch in diameter. Cut the Dough into small equal pieces about 1 inch in length. Roll out each piece into a round disc about 5 inches in diameter. Keep everything under a damp cloth.
Meanwhile prepare your Steamer. Line the trays with Napa Cabbage Leaves or cheese cloth if you have it and place them by your assembly station.
In a Metal Steamer Pot or Wok, bring water to a boil. If using a Wok, put the water at a level so that when you put the bamboo steamer into the wok, the water rises about ½ inch up the bottom of the bamboo base. You do not want the water to touch the dumplings inside so make sure not to over fill it.
While the water is heating, remove the Filling and the Aspic from the freezer and get ready to assemble the dumplings. You’ll be making each bun one at a time. Place about 1 Tbs of Filling and 1 - 2 cubes of Aspic in the middle of your 5 in. Dough disc. Pleat with as many folds as you can bring together, but most importantly make sure the top is sealed. If the filling ever gets too wet or hard to handle, put it in the freezer for another 15 minutes and start again.
Place the Buns in the lined steamer trays, about 2 inches apart.
Once the water is boiling, put the stacked trays in the Metal Steamer Pot or Wok and cover with the lid. Steam over high heat for 8 minutes. Immediately remove the trays from the pot and serve with preferred toppings.