This recipe for Peppery pork and spring onion filling inside fluffy baked bao (buns) from Pippa Middlehurst’s Dumplings and Noodles cookbook is inspired by her visit to the Raohe market in Taipei, Taiwan’s capital city. The recipe makes eight generously sized buns.
Find out more about Pippa Middlehurst’s Dumplings and Noodles in our in-depth review.
Taiwanese Peppery Pork Buns
I first tried these buns at Raohe market in Taipei. The chefs would make them by hand, dunking the pork into a basket of spring onions, before wrapping the dough tightly around the filling and slapping the buns inside a tandoor oven. They cooked in minutes.
- 300 g 2½ cups low-gluten bun flour or plain (all-purpose) flour, plus extra for the flour paste
- 150 ml 2/3 cup milk, warmed
- 2 tbsp caster, superfine sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 tsp dried active yeast
- 2 eggs
- 2 tbsp lard, melted
- Neutral oil, for greasing
- 3 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
For the filling
- 350 g 1½ cups fatty minced (ground) pork (>20% fat)
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ tsp freshly ground Sichuan peppercorns
- 2 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine
- 1 tbsp light soy sauce
- ½ tsp grated nutmeg
- ¼ tsp fine sea salt
- 5 spring onions, scallions, finely sliced
Special equipment: Stand mixer (optional); use the dough hook attachment on a medium speed for 5–8 minutes.
For the flour paste, place 3 tablespoons of flour in a small saucepan. Add 80ml of warm water and 40ml of the warm milk. Cook over a medium heat for 3–4 minutes until thickened and gluey,then set aside.
In a mixing bowl, combine the 300g of flour with the sugar and salt. Add the yeast to the rest of the warm milk and combine until the yeast is completely dissolved and the mixture is slightly frothy. Add the yeast mixture to the flour, along with one of the eggs and the melted lard, then add the flour paste. Combine everything until it comes together to form a dough. Knead for 10–15 minutes until smooth and even-textured.
Coat your mixing bowl in oil. Put your dough into the bowl and cover witha clean damp tea (dish) towel. Leave in a warm place to rise for 1–1½ hours.
While the dough is proving, make the filling. Place all the ingredients for the filling except the spring onions (scallions) in another mixing bowl and beat together until well combined. The mixture should resemble a paste.
When the dough has finished proving, turn it out onto your work surface and knead to knock out the air. Roll the dough into a long sausage and split into 8 equal-sized pieces (65–70g/2¼–2½oz each), then roll each one into a ball.
Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F/Gas 6).
Flatten the dough balls and roll each into a wrapper about 15cm (6in) in diameter. Place 2 tablespoons of filling in the middle of each wrapper, top with the spring onions and pinch the dough closed. Place the buns pinch side down on a tray lined with baking paper and spaced not less than 1cm (½in) apart, and leave to rise for at least 15 minutes.
Beat the remaining egg and brush the tops of the buns with it before sprinkling with the sesame seeds. Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes, or until the tops of the buns are golden and crisp. Let the buns cool slightly before devouring.
We couldn’t find sufficiently fatty pork (Pippa calls for pork with more than 20% fat), so the filling was not quite as juicy as it probably should have been but we really enjoyed the buns, and will definitely make them again, seeking out suitably fatty mince via a butcher.
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Kavey Eats received a review copy of Dumplings and Noodles by Pippa Middlehurst from publishers Quadrille. Recipe extracted with permission. Book cover and original recipe images provided by Quadrille, photography by India Hobson & Magnus Edmondsen. Additional images Kavey Eats.