The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Meat Filled "Baked" Buns

PalwithnoovenP's picture

Meat Filled "Baked" Buns

This is something that I made a few months ago when I wasn't actively posting. I almost forgot it until I saw it again last week so I thought of posting it. These were inspired by Kao Bao Zi, meat filled buns baked in a tandoor oven from a specific region in China.

As Chinese is our theme now, I would like to share a story; I hope I will feel a little better later. I just lost a friend (well not really a friend according to most standards) to the Big C just months after it was diagnosed. The cancer was an aggressive one that affected his blood and a tumor formed between his heart and lungs. I really could not believe it until we visited the family.

I just met him after a Chinese language proficiency exam and there was an instant connection. We were not even close, it's only the love for studying Mandarin (and languages in general) that connects us but I feel sad and still could not believe at what happened. He was the best in Mandarin in our university and he was an inspiration to us. Many of us dream to be even just a quarter as good as him. He knows many languages too; he can speak, read and write Mandarin (both simplified and traditional characters), Japanese (yes, all of Japan's 3 writing systems), Korean, Thai and Indonesian. As you can notice he has a penchant for Asian languages.
I was just a little shocked with one of life's realities of going to the wake of someone who is my contemporary. As usual I did not look at him for the last time as I want that the memories that will remain will be those from the time when he was a alive, enthusiastic and happy. I saw him last March and that's what I want to remember. The funny thing was even in his wake, us who were fans of studying Mandarin can't help but study and talk in Mandarin there. We said that if he was only there, he would be happy to teach and talk to us. We taught each other new vocabulary and learned many things.

Okay, I feel a little better now. Here are the buns.

The dough was made with a 48 hour retarded levain fed with AP, AP flour, water, sugar, salt and oil. The stuffing was made with ground pork, soy sauce, garlic and chili. I used a chili that's pretty spicy so I cannot put many so I did not get the red color that I wanted. I put the pork raw so the buns will be juicy. 

I rolled each one into a thin wide sheet then I spread the pork paste, rolled it into a cylinder and coiled it. I made it this way to evenly distribute the filling in the bun. I first cooked them on a dry pan 1 minute on each side then baked for 10 minutes on each side. One was extra boldly baked but did not taste bitter.

The buns were crispy on the outside and a little chewy that is perfect to hold the juice. The inside was so juicy and the dough-meat interface was nicely gooey but not so much that it makes you puke from soggy bread. The stuffing packs a great bold flavor but something you don't want to eat on a date. The heat kicks your nose, tongue and throat but it does not burn them so badly for you to grab a glass of ice cold water immediately. The only thing to improve here is to put more stuffing. Very delicious!

Look at that chili bit peeping from the dough.

I'll definitely make something similar next time albeit with more stuffing. I think I will also try different flavors in the stuffing. And maybe I will try browning the pork for some extra flavor. A chewier bun will also take this to new heights.


Danni3ll3's picture

The big C is a horrible thing that most of us sooner or later have to deal with, whether it is in ourselves or with friends. Thank you for sharing your story and I hope that with time, the sadness won’t be as sharp. 

Those buns look delicious. I would love to see more pictures of your no oven baking pot. 

PalwithnoovenP's picture

I hope for that too. I will try to include more photos of my pot in future posts.

Elsie_iu's picture

Life is full of uncertainties and that is what makes us feel vulnerable at times... Since there's not much we can do about it, why not just leave the worries behind and treasure every moment?

Admittedly, Kao Bao Zi is my last choice out of all the sweet and savory Chinese steamed buns. The meat is often texture-less, which makes it unappealing. Your version is a completely different story! The dark-baked crust speaks flavour and texture to me, especially after you told me your bread always has the traditional smoky touch!  The filling looks so juicy that it reminds me of Shengjian mantou 生煎包, which I love so much.

I missed your posts and was starting to wonder when you would write your next post. Then here it comes :)


PalwithnoovenP's picture

We were reminded once again with invaluable life lessons.

Oh, Shengjian bao! It's my favorite out of all Chinese buns! I only get to taste them a few  times a year whenever we have the chance to go to Chinatown which is a 3-4 hour commute. I thing that makes it more special; I eat a dozen in one sitting! So juicy and the contrast of textures of the crunchy bottom and the soft and fluffy top makes it really mouth watering.

I suddenly craved for them because of you! I wonder how I can recreate them. Many say they taste like gyoza but I can't taste any ginger or cabbage in the ones that we buy. I also don't know the crunchy filler that they use if they are jicama or bamboo shoots. Do you have any idea? Thanks!

Elsie_iu's picture

I believe there're many versions of Shengjian bao out there. There're indeed versions that include cabbage and ginger . However, the ones I'm used to eating have a filling very similar to that of Shao Long bao. There're no veggies but just seasoned fatty minced pork with broth. 

I doubt there'd be jicama in Shengjian bao as it's not really common in Chinese cooking. Other than bamboo shoots, stems of leafy vegetables (e.g. Choy sum and chinese broccoli), water chestnuts and lotus roots are common additions for added crunch. You might try using whichever you have a preference for or the one that's available.

Good luck replicating Shengjian bao!

dabrownman's picture

just riddled with it.  One sister died of lung cancer and the other has had leukemia for decades and her first cousin has a rare form of caner as well.  It is a most hideous disease for sure and my heart goes out to you for your loss,  

Pork, buns and hot sauce are just made for each other.  They had to be tasty for sure!  I think I would at least partially cook the pork in the sauce, first to give it mire flavor and make sure it would done after baking it over the fire in the bun - but that is just me and if it works your way great!

Love the post and happy baking

PalwithnoovenP's picture

We just have to deal with it even if it's hard.

I love these buns, a fresh break from steamed ones. There are a million ways to tweak them too and I'am excited to try a different route on them next time.

isand66's picture

Unfortunately, cancer is not something just about anyone can escape as it rears its ugly head all too often.

The buns look tasty and I'm sure as you make them again you will perfect them to your liking.

Happy Baking.

PalwithnoovenP's picture

I already have and idea with what to do next time, just don't have the resources to try it now.