Duo Jiao Xiao Bao 多娇小宝 (Spicy Steamed Pork Buns)

Ingredients: (~20 buns)
  • 1/4 in. piece fresh ginger, unpeeled and smashed
  • 7 oz. ground pork
  • 2 tbsp. chopped salted chiles
  • 1/4 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, with a little extra for dusting
  • 3/4 tsp. active-dry yeast
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 4 tbsp. lukewarm water
  • a little peanut oil

  1. To make the stuffing, smash the ginger with the fiat of a cleaver blade, cover with about 5 tablespoons cold water, and leave to infuse for a minute or two.
  2. Place the pork in a bowl. Add the ginger-infused water (straining out the ginger). Use your hand to mix the water into the pork, picking it up and slapping it against the bottom of the bowl to encourage the meat to absorb the water. Add the chiles and sesame oil and mix well. Place in the freezer for about 20 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, to make the dough, place the flour in a bowl. Mix the yeast and sugar with the water and stir to dissolve. Add the yeast mixture to the flour with enough lukewarm water to make a stiff but moist dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured countertop and knead for about 10 minutes until it is smooth and glossy. Cover with a wet cloth and set aside at room temperature for about 10 minutes.
  4. Roll the dough into 2 long sausages, each about 1 1/4 inches thick. Break or cut this dough into about twenty 1 1/4-inch pieces and dust very lightly with flour.
  5. Smear the bottom of a steamer with a little oil to prevent sticking.
  6. To fill and shape the bao zi, take a piece of dough and flatten it slightly with the palm of your hand, so you have a plump disc. Then use a rolling pin to roll it out into a 2 1/4 inch circle. It is best to make small rolling movements toward the middle of the circle) turning it as you go, so you end up with a disk that is slightly fatter in the middle (this will help the wrapper to keep its shape when you add the filling). Cradle the disk of rolled dough in one hand) and add 1 tablespoon filling in the middle, smoothing it down with a knife blade. Then use your other hand to make small pinching movements around the edge of the filling, turning the dumpling as you go. You should end up with a ball-shaped dumpling with a whorl-like pattern on the top. (Ask a Chinese friend to demonstrate this process if you can!)
  7. Place the finished dumpling onto the oiled steamer. Repeat with the rest of the dough and filling. When the dumplings are ready, set aside for 20 minutes at room temperature until the dough has risen.
  8. Finally, steam the dumplings over a high heat for 15 minutes, by which time they should be cooked through—break one in half to make sure. Serve immediately.