It’s not often you can credit a success in the kitchen to an Olympic figure skater, but I most definitely owe Brian Boitano a huge thank you for these delightfully decadent pork buns.
The last time I made steamed buns, the filling was fantastic but the buns lacked the fluffy tenderness of the bao from my favorite Chinese restaurant. So I turned to the internet in search of a fairly uncomplicated yeasted steamed bun recipe and somehow landed on one attributed to Mr. Boitano, who apparently has his own cooking show.
While I nearly passed the recipe by for something, well, more authentic, its stellar reviews caught my eye. People seemed to love the recipe, praising the buns for their puffy, fluffy texture. In fact, while reading the comments in other bun recipes that I came across, I saw references to Boitano’s tasty buns (ha!) and was finally convinced to try them out.
Well, Boitano certainly deserves a gold medal for that recipe because it’s pretty awesome. The dough was a dream to work with, very pliable, and the texture was spot-on, light and fluffy even though my pleating was far from delicate. While I think the dough could have used a dash of salt, that’s the only criticism I have. When it came to the filling though, I wouldn’t change a thing — it was utter perfection.
Instead of Boitano’s recipe for pork ribs, I used some of the Thai sweet pork (muu waan) featured in my last post. The “pork candy” is amazing served over coconut rice and tossed into fried rice, so I had a suspicion it would be equally fabulous stuffed into a pillow-soft Chinese steamed bun. I was totally right.
While the process for these buns is a bit time-consuming, don’t let it dissuade you. These are everything your mouth has been wanting.
Once all the buns were ready, I set up my bamboo steamer and let them steam for about 12-14 minutes. * I’m glad I took Boitano’s advice and left lots of room between the buns because these guys got huge. Next time instead of cutting the dough into 12 pieces as recommended, I’ll make 20 small ones.*
I don’t know if I will ever try a different recipe for bao – these buns made my heart sing. So, thank you Brian Boitano. To show my appreciation, I will spread the word about your fabulous buns to everyone I know!