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Shavua Tov: Kosher Pork Buns! And Some Sunday Picks

July 21, 2013 – 8:11 am4 Comments

pork buns2Daniel Broder‘s Kosher Pork Buns.

Lisa: “I’m going to become a vegetarian”
Homer: “Does that mean you’re not going to eat any pork?”
Lisa: “Yes”
Homer: “Bacon?”
Lisa: “Yes Dad”
Homer: “Ham?”
Lisa: “Dad all those meats come from the same animal”
Homer: “Right Lisa, some wonderful, magical animal!”

Is Homer right – could pig be a truly magical animal? Any kosher Simpson’s fan has probably wondered the same thing. We may have told ourselves that it can’t be that good – but then why does everyone else eat bacon and eggs for breakfast? Having never eaten any pig products – sometimes I felt like I was missing out.

A Chinese delicacy that has always piqued my interest is the ever popular steamed pork bun. Although the traditional pork bun is made with roast pork, I found an enticing recipe in Fuchsia Dunlop’s Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook for spicy steamed pork buns. The recipe uses minced pork as it’s meat of choice. I’ve found that a great substitute is a 50/50 mix of veal and dark chicken mince. I’m not sure how much it does taste like pork – but it is bloody good. Make sure you set aside a good couple of hours to make these – but rest assured, the reward is worth the effort.

Spicy Steamed Kosher “Pork” Buns


For the stuffing:
40g of unpeeled fresh ginger
200g of veal mince
200g of dark chicken mince
4 small red chillies (or two large red chillies)
2 tsp salt
½ tsp of sesame oil

For the dough:
250g of plain white flour – and a bit more for dusting
¾ tsp dried yeast
2 tsp brown sugar
4 tbsp lukewarm water

30cm Bamboo steamer
Spray oil
Baking paper


  1. You may wish to wear gloves for this bit, chop the chillies finely – seeds and all. Combine with the salt and leave at room temperature for at least 30min – you can even do this the night before and leave the chillies in a jar until the next morning.
  2. Smash the ginger with the flat part of a blade and place in a small bowl. Cover with water – about 5 tablespoons should do it and leave it for a few minutes to infuse.
  3. Combine the chicken and veal in a bowl. Add the water from the ginger – without the ginger – to the mince meat. To combine the meat with the water you may need to pick the mixture up and slap it against the side of the bowl. Once the water is combined with the meat – add the salted chillies and sesame oil and combine. Mix well and place the meat into the freezer for about 20 minutes. This helps to firm up the mixture so that it retains the ginger water during cooking.
  4. Mix the dried yeast, sugar and lukewarm water together until dissolved
  5. Add the yeast mixture to the plain flour in a large bowl and combine with your hands. You will need to add more water at this stage – another couple of tablespoons should do it – in order to make a stiff but moist dough.
  6. Roll the dough out onto a floured board and knead for about 10 minutes – the dough will be ready when it is smooth and glossy. Cover with a damp cloth and leave at room temperature for at least 10 minutes
  7. Roll the dough into two long sausages – about 3cm thick. If you have ever made challah before, this is a pretty similar process. Once rolled out, cut the dough into pieces about 3cm long and dust lightly with flour – you will end up with approximately 20 pieces of dough. Each piece should be about the size of a 3cm cube.
  8. Place a sheet of baking paper at the base of the bamboo steamer – you may want to cut a few air holes into the paper for the steam. Spray with oil and set aside.
  9. The process of making the dumplings is time consuming – but you will get faster as you go.
    1. Take a piece of dough and roll it between the palms of your hands forming a ball
    2. Press it between your hands so that you end up with a disc shape that is thicker in the middle
    3. Place the dough on a lightly floured board and using a rolling pin, roll from just outside the centre of the disc to the edge. Turn the dough a quarter and repeat until you have a circular piece of dough between 7-10cm in diameter. It needs to be thicker in the middle than at the edges in order to support the filling
    4. With the dough in your palm put about one teaspoon of the meat mixture in the middle
    5. There are two methods you can use to seal the pork bun – the easier option is as follows:
      1. Fold the dough in half and pinch the middle together encasing the meat
      2. Now fold the other two opposite edges into the middle and pinch again – you will now have a dumpling with a cross shape of dough on top
      3. Bring in two of the remaining opposing edges and pinch in the middle
      4. Bring in the last two edges and pinch all the dough together – twist the top of the bun slightly to ensure that it holds it’s shape. If the dough won’t stay closed, dab the dough with a little water. Pinch it all together and it will now hold
      5. The second option involves folding the dough in over the meat mixture in a flan pattern. Fold the first part of the dough, turn the dumpling about an eighth and repeat the process until all the dough is folded over the mixture. Pinch the top of the dumpling and twist slightly. This process takes a little bit more practice to perfect but results in a very impressive looking pork bun
  10. Place the dumplings in the steamer leaving a little bit of space between each one so that they won’t stick together
  11. Once finished making all the dumplings, leave at room temperature for about 20 minutes to allow the dough time to rise
  12. Steam the dumplings over a high heat for about 15 minutes – make sure there is enough water in the wok so that it wont boil dry. Keep the water boiling at a rapid pace for the full 15 minutes
  13. Serve immediately with some soy sauce and perhaps a cup of Chinese tea – it is Yum Cha after all!

The end product is a slightly sweet soft bread with a mince meat filling. During the cooking process the ginger water will have been released from the meat which gives it a soupy filling as well.

Now that I feel I have mastered the art of a pork bun – I’m ready for my next challenge. Give me your suggestions and I’ll see if I can make it kosher.

Disclosure: Daniel Broder recently cooked the editor and her husband these pork buns and they were exquisite.


And now…

From the editor, Your Sunday Picks.

Hasidic doom metal gets the Heeb seal of approval.

Betches, on the other hand inspires a Heeb rant that is not for the easily offended. You’ve been warned.

Also not for those with delicate sensibilities, Hipster Jew is not safe for work or the easily offended. And it may not be the most reliable source of kashrut – or dating – advice.

Gemara as thought experiment is examined in Tablet.

Hat tip to Mandi Katz for this thought provoking article on attitudes to female modesty.

The word of the day at Haaretz? Pashkevil. Read about the not so Jewish origins of this Haredi form of communication.

Meanwhile, the not so Jewish Temptations sing Fiddler on the Roof – hat tip to the Jewish Museum of Australia for this one.

Go to the Jewish International Film Festival’s Facebook page for a chance to win a double pass to Orchestra of Exiles at the Classic Cinema.

Pick of Seek and You Shall Find: Seraphya Berin has started a fascinating conversation about whether we can take the rulings of certain great rabbis seriously when they make bizarre and often hateful statements about Religious Zionists.

If you’re in Israel any time soon, be sure to go into the living room of someone you don’t know and listen to them play music.

What to do today? Shuk Caulfield’s market stalls will feature clothing, gifts, and Judaica, with food from Zavdiel’s and Sweet Crumble. Funds raised will go to local causes and the renovation of HaMaayan’s shul.

Where to go for the next Kabbalat Shabbat? At the Moishe House, Habo will be holding a secular humanist Kabbalat Shabbat this coming Friday, using drums and other instruments. There will also be challa and wine.



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  • frosh says:

    Interestingly, Quorn make a very good (and as it happens, Kosher) vegetarian version of ‘beef’ mince – they also make vegetarian versions of what I guess are ‘chicken’ products. They don’t seem to make a Pork replica – I wonder why that is.

    Not that I want to eat faux pig meat, but just curious as to their production/marketing decision.

  • TheSadducee says:

    Why call it a pork bun when it contains veal & chicken?

    And besides, I don’t recall anywhere our sages suggesting that we emulate treyf food in our role as a light unto the nations…

  • Alex Fein says:

    Sadducee, you’d call them pork buns because that’s what they emulate.

    In the same way we eat parve cheesecake and ice cream at the end of a meat meal, many of us see no problem with eating mock treyf.

    From a personal perspective, those “pork” buns were a culinary revelation – not just because they were delicious, but because as a formerly irreligious person, I used to eat all sorts of forbidden foods and sometimes really miss them. This was a fabulous reminder of how delicious kosher alternatives can be.

    I believe that when there are good kosher alternatives, many Jews who might be on the fence regarding kashrut will often choose the kosher option. And I can’t imagine our sages having too much of a problem with that :)

  • TheSadducee says:

    An interesting perspective Alex – your response makes me think of the quote:

    “Almost all absurdity of conduct arises from the imitation of those whom we cannot resemble.”

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