Shanghai Steamed Soupy Buns

Makes 28 buns

Many dumpling shops use a flour and water dough to make the dumplings. I generally use a leavened dough since it tends to hold the soupy filling better.

1 recipe Dumpling Dough, prepared as directed

1 recipe Savory Aspic, prepared as directed

1 pound ground pork, butt, shoulder (better if a little fatty rather than too lean)

2 tablespoons soy sauce

4 tablespoons minced scallion

2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger

2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil

½ cup Chinjiang or Chinese black vinegar with 1 tablespoon thinly shredded fresh  ginger for dipping

1.     Make Dumpling Skin dough as directed in the recipe.

2.     Make Savory Broth as directed in the recipe.

3.     Chop the ground pork with cleaver or large knife until very finely minced and fluffy.  Mix together the ingredients of the ground pork filling in a bowl. Pour in the soupy broth with gelatin and stir until evenly mixed. Pour into a lasagna pan and let cool to room temperature. Chill overnight or about 4 hours until firm and cut into 28 squares.

4.     Line the steamer trays with parchment and brush lightly with toasted sesame oil. .

5.     Roll out dough into a snake-like roll about 12 to 14-inches long.. Cut in half and cut each half into 14 pieces.  Cover the dough with a slightly dampened kitchen towel to prevent from drying out.

6.     On a lightly floured surface, flatten each piece, cut edge down, and press into a circle. Using a small rolling pin or your fingers, roll out or shape the dough piece until it is about 3 inches in diameter. The edges should be thinner and the center thicker.

7.     Place a portion the meat filling in the center of the dough circle and holding the dough in one hand, press gently down on filling with the thumb, use your thumb and first finger of the other hand to fold and pleat the edge of dough.  Rotate in a circle as you work; fully pleating the dough to enclose the filling.  Pinch and twist edges together to seal in a topknot.

8.     Arrange buns about 1-inch apart on the oiled paper in the steamer trays, pinched side up.

9.     Fill wok one-third full of water; heat over high heat to boiling.  Steam buns, covered, over boiling water until doubled in size and firm, about 8 to 10 minutes.  Serve immediately.

Steamer trays can be stacked one over the other.  The cover fits on the top tray.  Alternate position of  trays halfway through cooking time to ensure even cooking.  If only 1 rack is available, refrigerate second batch of dumplings until ready to steam; increase cooking time 3 minutes.

Basic Yeast Dough                                                        28 skins

3 cups all-purpose flour, plus 2 to 3 tablespoons more if necessary

1 tablespoon sugar

1 cup very warm water (about 105 degrees to 115)

1 teaspoon active dry yeast

1 cup warm water

½ tablespoon olive oil to oil the bowl

1.     Place the flour in a mixing bowl, Mix together the yeast, sugar, and warm water. Using a wooden spoons, mix together all the ingredients, stirring until a rough dough forms. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. If the dough remains sticky, sprinkle in a little flour.

2.     Shape the dough into a ball; place in a lightly oiled medium bowl. Turn over the dough to cover with the oil. Cover bowl with a kitchen towel and let dough rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. Punch down. Use the dough to form into buns. (See recipe above.)

Savory Broth                                Makes enough for 28 buns

1 ¾   pounds chicken bones or wings

2 cups unsalted or low-salted chicken broth or water

¼  cup soy sauce

2 tablespoons sugar

½ cup rice wine or sake

4 slices ginger, about the size of a quarter, smashed with the flat side of a knife

6 stalked scallion, ends trimmed, cut into 2-inch lentgths

¼ cup water for softening the gelatin

1 ½ teaspoons unflavored gelatin

1.     Place all ingredients, except the gelatin, in a small saucepan with a lid.  Heat covered to boiling; uncover, reduce heat to very low.  Simmer, uncovered over very low heat, for one hour, turning bones occasionally.

2.     Strain the broth, removing the seasonings and bones.  Pour ¼ cup water over the unflavored gelatin, stir, and mix into the broth mixture. © Copyright Nina Simonds 2008.

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