My favorite dishes in a Chinese dim sum restaurant have to be the pastries: egg custard tarts, fried sesame balls, and roast pork puff pastry. And I’m always trying to replicate them at home. I know you might ask, why go through all that trouble to make something you can order at a restaurant? Because the sheer fact that you can make the pastry as thin as possible and stuff as much filling as you like into it (for the record, I am gluttonous) just makes it so much more awesome. Even more so when these little golden pillows are fresh out of the oven!
Be careful about using too much filling. Since the dough is quite delicate, you could end up with a big leaking, soggy mess once they get baked up in the oven.
By the way, if I had remembered to sprinkle some white sesame seeds on top, these pastries would have been even better, aesthetically and taste-wise (they add a nice crunch). Oh well, you win some, you lose some.
My mom got me these jasmine tea balls (with the clear teapot), which are tea leaves and dried flowers carefully handcrafted so that when steeped in hot water, it blooms into a flower. Really pretty to look at!
Chinese Roast Pork Pastry Puffs (Char Siu So)
(Makes 12 pieces)
For the filling:
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, diced
2 cups barbecued roast pork, cut into ½” pieces
3 tbsps oyster sauce
2 tbsps sugar
¼ tsp sesame oil
½ tsp dark soy sauce
2 tsp cornstarch
¾ cup chicken stock
In a wok or frying pan, heat vegetable oil and cook onions until tender and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add roast pork and stir fry for 3 minutes. Add oyster sauce, sugar, sesame oil, dark soy sauce, cornstarch, and chicken stock. Let it simmer on low heat, until the sauce is thickened. Remove from heat and let it cool in the refrigerator for at least one hour.
For the outer dough:
90g cake flour
30g unsalted butter, melted
For the inner dough:
100g cake flour
50g unsalted butter, melted
Sesame seeds, for garnish
In a mixing bowl, mix together all of the ingredients for the outer dough until well combined. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let it rest in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. Divide evenly into 12 pieces, about 14 grams each.
In another mixing bowl, mix together all of the ingredients for the inner dough until well combined. Wrap the dough with plastic wrap and let it rest in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. Divide evenly into 12 pieces, about 13 grams each.
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Flatten each piece of outer dough, place an inner dough ball in the center, and cover it completely. Using a rolling pin, flatten the dough into an oval. Roll it up by hand, tightly, turn 90 degrees, and flatten it again with a rolling pin. Roll it up by hand for the second time, turn 90 degrees, and flatten it with a rolling pin into a rectangular shape.
Place a heaping tablespoon of the pork filling in the center. Fold both sides toward the center. Lay the pastry seam side down on the prepared baking sheet, spacing about two inches apart. Use a fork to seal the edges of the pastries. Repeat with the rest of the dough. Brush the top of the pastry with egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until they turn golden brown. Serve warm.
*The traditional recipe uses lard instead of unsalted butter. I didn’t have any on hand, but if you do, substitute the butter with the same amount of lard.
*The filling needs to be cooled thoroughly in order for the sauce to thicken up. Otherwise, it becomes a very messy situation with the sauce leaking out as you are transferring the pastries to the baking sheet.
*Try not to handle the pastry too much or it will soften and become greasy. If it does, place them in the fridge for about 10 minutes and start over.
*Once cooked, the pastry puffs can be refrigerated for up to three days or frozen. You can reheat them in the oven at 350°F until the filling is warmed through and the pastry is crispy and flaky, about 10 minutes.