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Course: Mains, Snack
Cuisine: Filipino
Keyword: bun

Pork Asado Buns

ACTIVE TIME: 1 hour
TOTAL TIME: 5 hours 30 minutes
Yield: 12 buns
This filling is from our culinary producer Lynne Calamia, who grew up with a Filipino mom and an Irish dad, which must have been really interesting. Since there are no potatoes, no corned beef, and no stout called for here, I'll assume this one's from mom's side.
Photo by Lynne Calamia
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For the filling

  • 1 pound pork shoulder, cut in 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 pound pork belly, cut in 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 large sweet onion, chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 1 tablespoon cane or white vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 star anise pods
  • 1 cup water

For the dough:

  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour plus more for rolling
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more for greasing bowl and sheet pan
  • 1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon of water

Specialized Hardware

5-quart Dutch oven or heavy bottom pot
Potato masher
Digital scale
Rolling pin or small dowel
Pastry brush
ACTIVE TIME: 1 hour
TOTAL TIME: 5 hours 30 minutes
Yield: 12 buns

Procedure

The pork

  • Place pork shoulder and belly in a large mixing bowl and season evenly with the salt and pepper.
  • Place a 5-quart Dutch oven or heavy bottom pot over medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Add the vegetable oil and swirl to coat the pan. Add half of the pork and cook, stirring occasionally until deeply browned, 7-8 minutes. Repeat with the remaining half of the pork then remove to a large bowl.
  • Reduce the heat to medium and drain and discard all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the pot. Add the onions and sweat for 3 minutes, followed by the garlic for another minute. Add the pork back to the pot followed by the soy sauce, hoisin sauce, vinegar, sugar, star anise pods, and water. Crank the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover with a lid, and cook for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.

The dough:

  • While the pork cooks, combine the milk and water in a microwave safe bowl or measuring cup and nuke on high for 30-40 seconds, or until the temperature is between 110℉-115℉. Stir in the yeast, sugar, and salt and set aside for 5-10 minutes or until foam forms on the surface. (If there's no foamy by this time, chances are good your yeast has expired.)
  • Place the flour in a large mixing bowl, drizzle in the oil, add the yeast mixture, and stir until you have a shaggy looking dough.
  • Lightly coat a large mixing bowl with oil and set it aside. Sprinkle the countertop with a little flour and turn the dough out onto it. Knead with your hands 20 times, then form into a ball, and move to the oiled bowl.
  • Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and park, away from direct sunlight or air-conditioning for 1-1 1/2 hours, or until the dough has almost doubled in size.

Finish pork and assemble:

  • When the pork is done cooking remove the meat with a slotted spoon to a large bowl, fishing out and discarding the star anise pods. Mash the meat with a potato masher (a dinner fork would work also), leaving it on the chunky side. Skim the fat that has floated to the top of the liquid in the pot with a small ladle and discard. Crank the heat to high and reduce the liquid until you end up with about 1 cup, 7-8 minutes. Add enough of the liquid to make the meat saucy without being soupy. You may not use all the liquid. Set aside to cool.
  • When the dough has doubled in size, deposit it onto a floured countertop and knead for 3 minutes, adding small amounts of flour as needed to prevent sticking. Form the dough into a ball and divide in half. Roll one of the halves into a 6-inch log shape and cut into 6 equal pieces (46-47 grams each-a digital scale is helpful here.) Repeat with the other half of the dough. Cover the balls with a clean kitchen towel and rest 15 minutes.
  • Lightly grease a half-sheet pan with a little of the oil and have standing nearby. Roll out one of the balls with a rolling pin or small dowel to a circle 5-inches in diameter. Place a couple tablespoons of the pork mixture in the center of the circle then fold the edges up and over the filling. Pinch the pleats with your fingers then give it a little twist to seal, being mindful to remove as much air from the buns as possible. Place seam-side down on the prepared sheet pan. Repeat with the remaining dough balls, placing them 1/2-inch apart from each other. You should be able to fit all 12 balls. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and rest 30 minutes.
  • Crank your oven to 375℉ and place a rack in the middle position. Brush the buns with the egg wash and poke a few holes in the tops with a toothpick to allow steam to vent. Bake for 20 minutes.
  • Remove the buns from the oven and cool for 15 minutes before consuming.
Store leftover buns in the fridge for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 2 months.
To reheat, wrap individually in aluminum foil and bake in a toaster oven or conventional oven preheated to 350 F for 20-25 minutes from the fridge or 45-50 minutes from the freezer.
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