Having food cravings when you’re far from home is awful. It’s even more awful when you’re in a small town with little to zero access to good South East Asian food. Everything here is either Thai, or Vietnam-based; forget about dim sum. It doesn’t exist here.
Steamed char siew paus or buns made with sweet pork filling are a common sight at dim sum restaurants in Asia, especially in Singapore, Malaysia and naturally, the country in which dim sum originates from – Hong Kong. The filling is usually made with pork belly or tender bits of pork marinated and roasted with a sweet sauce laced with Chinese herbs & peppers (but not sweet as in dessert sweet) before being chopped up into tiny bits to be used as stuffing. In some places, there is more fat than meat but I have opted for a mixture that allows some bit of fat for flavour. Lean pork can be used but thens to produce a drier and less flavourful texture.
I’ve used normal, all purpose white flour instead of the recommended Hong Kong flour which is actually just normal superbleached flour. The difference between the two lies in the appearance. Hong Kong flour, being bleached to its death, produces a typical pure white colour to the buns when cooked. On the other hand, normal white flour will yield an off-white to cream appearance.
If done well, this can be a very healthy meal on its own and if made smaller, it is suitable as a mini-snack. The filling can be replaced with any other – this depends on the maker of the buns. In Malaysia, you can find chicken with egg & mushroom on top of the usual pork filling. I’m tempted to add some Chinese mushrooms in with the pork. For those going kosher or halal or even want something sweet instead, you will find that coconut jam or kaya and red bean paste make good substitutes.
I still have heaps of meat leftover and will probably try to use it for making Seremban siew paus which are similar to this except that the filling has peas, it uses a different pastry and is baked. Hopefully, I’ll have some to show by this week. 🙂