This recipe was provided by our Guest Chef Jeremy Pang.
The dry mix
530g (1lb 3oz/4 cups) middle-gluten wheat flour (swapsies: plain (all-purpose) flour)
½ teaspoon salt
7g fast action dried yeast
40g (1½oz) caster sugar
15g (½oz) baking powder
50ml (2fl oz) milk
200–250ml (7–8fl oz/about 1 cup) warm water (depending on how humid your room feels- if the air feels very dry you’ll want to add a little more water, but if it is very humid, a little less is required)
25ml (1fl oz) vegetable or sunflower oil
Using a free-standing mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment (if available), pour in the dry mix ingredients.
Mix the liquid ingredients in a measuring jug. Then slowly pour the liquid into the mixer while kneading on a low speed for around 2 minutes, until all the water is mixed into the flour. Once combined, turn the speed up to high for a further 2 minutes, until the dough has a smooth yet tacky feel to it.
Once the dough has been well kneaded, dust it with 2 tablespoons of flour, scraping off any additional dough on the sides of the bowl. Shape the dough into a rough ball, then coat it lightly with 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil, cover the bowl with a damp cloth and leave aside in a warm, preferably moist, draught-free location (such as inside a room-temperature oven) for 1 – 1½ hours.
Once the dough has doubled in size, you can make it into whatever shape you wish before steaming.
Steaming time will vary between 8 and 15 minutes, depending on the shape and size of your finished buns (the thinner the bun, the shorter the steaming time).
Making your Bao Shape
HIRATA BAO: THE SANDWICH
Roll the proved bao dough out until completely flat and roughly 4mm in thickness, then cut into either rectangles or circles. If cutting circles, roll them out again once cut, to make elongated oval shapes.
Once all the shapes have been cut out, lightly brush the top of each pastry with a dab of vegetable oil. Place an oiled chopstick across the centre of each pastry and fold one side over the top to form a ‘lip’, then remove the chopstick. Once you have made the sandwich shapes, cover with a damp cloth and set aside to rest for 15–20 minutes. Your sandwich is now ready to steam. Steam for 8 minutes in a covered steam basket inside a wok half-filled with boiling water, without opening the lid, until cooked through and risen well.
Making the filling
1kg beef brisket joint
½ a portion of bao dough, ready to make 8–10 steamed hirata baos
THE POACHING LIQUID
1 star anise
1 small cinnamon stick
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
½ teaspoon salt
1 litre water
3 tablespoons jarred Chinese black pepper sauce (available in Chinese supermarkets)
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
4 teaspoons sugar
Place the brisket in a large wok and add all the poaching liquid ingredients. Bring to the boil on a high heat, then lower to a gentle simmer. Poach the beef on a low heat for 3 hours, until the meat starts to fall apart with pulled with tines of two forks, pulling away from each other.
While the meat is cooking, make your bao buns if you haven’t made them beforehand.
Mix the glaze ingredients together in a small mixing bowl. Once the brisket has been poached, remove it from the poaching liquid and drain all but a few tablespoons of poaching liquid, then add the glaze ingredients into your wok immediately followed by the brisket and over a high heat bring your sauce to a vigorous boil, carmalising your glaze as you baste it over all sides of the brisket.
Once the glaze is glossy and thick but not burnt, remove the now-glazed brisket joint onto a large cutting board and pull apart into large chunks, perfect to carefully tuck into your bao.
Just before you finish glazing the meat, start steaming your bao buns.
along with some pickles or salad and condiments on the side.