We are making Japanese freshly steamed pork bun Nikuman, a perfect recipe for those cold days. Homemade dough and meat mixture are the best! The process requires a bit of time, but it is definitely worth it!
Let's cut the ingredients for Nikuman. These dried mushrooms were pre-washed and soaked in a fridge overnight. Squeeze water from shiitake mushrooms.
Remove the firm parts of the stems. Slice the stems thinly and cut the caps into 1.5cm (0.6") pieces.
These dried shrimps were pre-washed and soaked in lukewarm water about one hour. Squeeze water from the shrimp.
Chop the shrimp into fine pieces.
Let's make the stock to mix dough for the bun. Pour in the shrimp liquid with a strainer. Add the shiitake liquid. Pour in hot water to increase it to 130ml (0.55 cups).
Let's make the dough for Nikuman. Add baking powder, instant yeast, sugar and salt to all-purpose flour. Lightly stir with a paddle.
Add sesame oil and mix.
Gradually mix in the lukewarm shiitake and shrimp dashi stock.
When the flour is roughly mixed, clean the paddle.
Gather the flour together with your hand. Knead until the dough ball is smooth and clean inside the mixing bowl.
Sprinkle flour on a cutting board. Place the dough on the cutting board and knead for 10 minutes. Use your body weight to press the dough.
As shown in the video, the texture of the dough becomes smooth.
Shape it into a ball and replace the dough in the bowl. Cover the bowl with a plastic wrap.
The dough is now ready to ferment in this styrofoam box, which is filled with hot water at about 40°C (104°F). Pour some hot water into the box and check if the temperature is about 40°C (104°F). Gently place the bowl in the hot water. Do not let the dough get wet.
Sit the bowl in the hot water for about 30 minutes. If you don't have a styrofoam box, cover the bowl, and keep the dough warm until doubled in volume.
Steam the cabbage leaf for 1 minute and cool it down on a wire sieve.
Remove the firm parts of the cabbage and chop them into fine pieces. Cut the leaf part into 2cm (0.8") strips and chop them into fine pieces.
Wrap the cabbage with a paper towel and squeeze out excess water.
Let's chop the spring onion. Make equally spaced diagonal cuts in the spring onion. Flip it over and repeat the cuts in the other side.
Cut the spring onion in half and chop into fine pieces.
Slice the ginger. Chop the slices into fine pieces.
Let's make meat mixture for Nikuman. Chop the pork slices into 5mm (0.2") pieces and put them in a bowl. Add salt, pepper, sugar, oyster sauce, five-spice powder, sesame oil and stir lightly.
Add potato starch to the meat and toss to coat evenly.
Add the cabbage, spring onion, ginger, shiitake and shrimp and mix evenly.
Clean your hands and divide the meat mixture into four.
Lightly oil your hands and shape the mixture into 8 balls.
After about 30 minutes, check if the dough is doubled in volume, and remove the bowl.
Remove the plastic wrap and knead the dough several times to let the air expel from the inside.
Place the dough on floured surface and roll it into a cylinder. Cut the dough into equal 8 pieces.
Shape each piece of dough into a ball while keeping the surface smooth.
Cover with a tightly squeezed kitchen towel and allow the dough to rest for 10 minutes. This resting process is called benching and it gives the dough softness and makes it easier to shape the dough.
Let's wrap the meat mixture with the dough. Place the smooth side of the dough on the surface and press it down with your palm. Roll out the dough using a rolling pin until their diameter become about 10cm (4").
Pinch the edges of the dough to reduce thickness.
Hold the mixture in the center of the dough and begin forming pleats.
Gather the edges of the dough up to the center while making the pleats.
Twist and fold the dough up to the top to wrap the mixture.
Place the Nikuman on baking paper sheets. You'll have 8 pieces of Nikuman in total.
Let's start the second stage of fermentation. Heat a steamer until water is warm. Turn off the burner and place the Nikuman in the steamer. Make a little space between each Nikuman so that they don't stick together.
Wrap the lid with a kitchen towel and cover the steamer. The towel will prevent water from dripping off the lid. The secondary fermentation takes 10 to 20 minutes.
When the Nikuman grow by half, cover and heat the steamer at high heat.
When the water boils, reduce the heat. Steam 15 more minutes and turn off the burner.
Serve the Nikuman on a plate.
The well-seasoned pork will bring out the flavor of Nikuman.
This recipe uses both instant yeast and baking powder, making it easy for fermentation to success.
The best temperature range for growing yeasts is from 28 to 32 °C (82-90 °F). If it reaches over 38 °C (100 °F) yeasts don't grow properly and they die out over 60 °C (140 °F).
You can store Nikuman in a freezer for later use, great for busy hours.