The bun also rises

[Recipe 1] PORK, GINGER and BOK CHOY FRIED RICE transforms into
[Recipe 2] LITTLE STEAMED WHOLEMEAL PORK BUNS
……………..
Pork, ginger and bok choy fried rice
is a quick and easy midweek dinner with an added bonus: by reserving some of the beautiful spiced pork mixture you can whip up a batch of fab Little steamed wholemeal pork buns for another meal! The pork mixture freezes excellently.
I love DIY Yum Cha and these little buns are super tasty, and quite healthy as they contain wholemeal flour. My boys just love them. In fact, my 4-year old has been known to need a lie-down after gorging himself on them.
The Pork, ginger and bok choy recipe contains basmati rice. Traditionally you’d use jasmine or plain white rice for a dish like this, but I love using basmati as it’s much lower GI. Here are the comparisons. Prepare to be amazed.
Low GI foods (slow energy release; ie. your best choice) = 55 or less
Medium GI = 56–69
High GI = 70 or more
Brown rice: GI 50
White basmati rice: GI 58
White glutinous rice: GI 86
White short-grain rice: GI 83-87
White jasmine rice: GI a whopping 109!

Pork and ginger rice

[Recipe 1] Pork, ginger and bok choy fried rice

Ingredients (serves 4 for 2 meals):
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1½ teaspoons sesame oil
½ cup (125ml) hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons peanut oil
750g (1½ lb) minced (ground) pork
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
tablespoons grated fresh ginger
5 spring onions (scallions), white parts only, thinly sliced (reserve green parts for serving)
Note: you’ll reserve
of the above ingredients, cooked, for the buns in recipe 2.
1 tablespoon soy sauce, extra
1 bunch bok choy (or choy sum), leaves trimmed and thinly sliced
1 medium carrot, chopped into small match-sticks
4 cups cooked basmati rice, cooled (you’ll need 1⅓ cups uncooked rice)
½ cup (50g) bean shoots (bean sprouts)
1 small red birdseye chilli, de-seeded, finely chopped*
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Chopped coriander (cilantro) leaves, to serve

Combine soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil and hoisin sauce in a small bowl and set aside.
Heat oil in a wok over high heat until just smoking. Add pork, garlic and ginger and stir-fry until golden brown and just cooked, about 2 minutes. Carefully drain off any liquid – hold back the ingredients in the wok with a large pan lid, while you pour. Wipe any dribbles off the side of the wok so they don’t ignite!
Add the white spring onions and hoisin mixture and stir-fry for 1–2 minutes.
Remove wok from the heat.
With a large spoon or soup ladle, remove about ⅓ of the ginger pork mixture, or 1½ cups (325g), for the little steamed wholemeal pork buns. Set aside (see storage tips below).
Return wok to heat. Add the extra tablespoon soy sauce, bok choy and carrot, and stir-fry for 1–2 minutes, until bok choy wilts.
Add cooked rice, bean shoots and chilli* and toss over medium heat for 2 minutes until rice is heated through. Season to taste.
Divide amongst four bowls, scatter with coriander and chopped green ends of spring onions and serve hot.
*Chilli can be added separately, to adult serves only.

  • Cook double the rice and freeze half for next time. Cooked rice freezes really well, for up to 3 months. Defrost overnight in the fridge, and break up with a fork before using.
  • Rice should be well-chilled before using in this recipe; and preferably made the day before and refrigerated (or defrosted overnight). If you have time, spread the rice out on a tray before using, and place in the fridge, uncovered, for at least 1–2 hours, to dry it out a bit. This will ensure your fried rice retains separate grains, and is not too gluggy.
  • Planned-overs (reserved ginger pork mixture) can be refrigerated for up to 3 days, or frozen for up to 3 months, so you can make the buns another time.
  • Fussy child tip: I find both my boys will happily scoff this rice if it’s served without bean shoots, so I scoop out their serves before adding the bean shoots to the wok.

Little steamed wholemeal pork buns

[Recipe 2] Little steamed wholemeal pork buns

Ingredients (serves 4–6, makes 15 buns):
1 tablespoon corn flour (cornstarch)
2 tablespoons warm water
1 teaspoon Chinese 5-spice powder
♦ 1½ cups (about 325g) reserved ginger pork mixture
Bun dough:
½ cup (125ml) warm water + ½ cup warm water extra
4 teaspoons (2 x 7g sachets) dried yeast
¼ cup caster (superfine) sugar
1½ cups (225g) plain (all-purpose) flour
1 cup (150g) wholemeal plain (wholewheat all-purpose) flour
2½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon peanut oil
Sweet chilli sauce, to serve

Mix corn flour and water together. Place into a small pan with the Chinese 5-spice powder.
Add reserved ginger pork mixture to pan.
Bring to the boil. Turn down heat and simmer until mixture thickens, about 2–3 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, make bun dough. Combine ½ cup warm water, yeast and sugar in a small bowl. Stand in a warm place for 5 minutes until frothy.
Sift flour and baking powder into a large bowl. Stir. Add yeast mixture, extra ½ cup warm water, salt and oil. Stir to form a soft, sticky dough. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes or until smooth. Place the dough in a large, oiled bowl. Cover and put in a warm place (see tips below recipe) for an hour or until the dough doubles in size.
Divide dough into 15 pieces (cut dough into 3 large pieces first, roll each into a fat log, then cut each of the 3 logs into 5 portions). Pop the dough pieces back into the covered oiled bowl as you work, to prevent them drying out.
Working with 1 piece of dough at a time, shape and flatten each dough portion into a 7cm round, about ½ cm thick.
Place a heaped teaspoonful of pork mixture into the centre of each round. Stretch dough up around the filling by pleating along the edges. Bring the pleats up and twist and seal them together at the top. This lovely, noisy little youtube clip illustrates the technique. Repeat the procedure until all buns are ready, popping them on a tray covered with cling film as you go.
Line a bamboo steamer with 5 individual squares of baking paper, or waxed cupcake paper liners (one per bun).
Place the first 5 prepared buns (these will have rested sufficiently while the others were prepared), smooth side down, into the steamer. Don’t overcrowd your basket or they’ll stick as they expand. Cover with steamer lid. Place steamer over a wok or pan of boiling water. Make sure the steamer doesn’t touch the water.
Cover and cook for 8–10 minutes, until puffed, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of a bun comes out clean. Repeat with remaining buns. Serve with sweet chilli sauce.

  • If yeast mixture doesn’t thoroughly froth it should be discarded, as it’s well and truly deceased. Try again with new yeast.
  • ‘A warm place’ to put your bowl of dough can be in a sink of warm water, in the laundry when your dryer is on, or even in a warm car!
  • Leftover little steamed buns can be stored in the fridge for up to two days. They are fab for lunch boxes.

11 thoughts on “The bun also rises

  1. Back again to tell you I was very proud of myself of making the dough according to your instructions. All my book club friends loved them! Just a little question: the amount of sugar in the mix got me a bit worried- is it there helping the dough rise?
    This recipe is now in the special section of my cooking scrapbook – tried and loved!

    • Fantastic! SO pleased you loved them and were able to make the dough easily. Thanks for the great feedback! The yeast in the dough actually ‘eats’ the sugar. This makes the little bubbles of C02 that become ‘trapped’ in the dough and help it rise. These buns contain a little more sugar than usual for extra flavour – Chinese pork buns are traditionally quite sweet. I’m sure that’s part of the reason my boys love them so much!

  2. I love the idea of these little buns for my next book club meeting, but am a bit scared of making the bun dough myself. is it really hard to do? What is the alternative for buying store-made sheets?
    I loved the bit about your little son needing a lie-down after enjoying the buns too much.

    • Quite honestly – the bun dough is REALLY easy to make. The only part that takes a while is the 1 hour waiting time (while it proves), but that’s when you can be enjoying a glass of wine or a cuppa! My 7-year old often helps with the dough-making, and both boys like the bun-shaping (although we often end up with pork logs, rather than neat buns). The shaping is not as tricky as it looks. You can basically just ram all the dough together at the top of the filling, and squeeze it shut. Although you can buy pre-made sheets for dumplings, you can’t (as far as I know) buy ready-made bun dough. Go on… give it a try!

  3. Inspiration plus! I think I’m going right over the rice and making enough pork buns for a gorge-fest for myself. Though I suspect the other inmates will want one or two. YUM Sas YUM!

  4. Sas, I’m sure you have an identical twin. How can you be such an inventive cook and a mother of two ragamuffin boys. Love ya work. jx

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