This recipe is an extract from K-Food: Korean Home Cooking and Street Food by Da-Hae and Gareth West, a stunning and comprehensive guide to Korean cuisine. Read more about Da-Hae and Gareth here.
There’s something a little magical about watching steamed buns being made in the market – the way that they’re hidden from sight until they’re just cooked, and then revealed in clouds of billowing steam as the lids are lifted from the steamers. These buns can be filled with anything, sweet or savoury, although kimchi and pork has always been my favourite choice as the salty, spicy filling is the perfect contrast to the plain, soft, pillowy buns.
For the dough Serves: 8
- 250ml (9fl oz) warm water
- 2½ teaspoons active dried yeast
- 3 tablespoons caster sugar
- 420g (15oz) plain flour
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- Vegetable oil, for greasing
For the filling
- 40g (1½oz) dangmyeon sweet potato noodles
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 300g (10½oz) minced pork
- Pinch of salt pinch of pepper
- 150g (5½oz) matured Baechu (cabbage) kimchi, or homemade kimchi, drained and finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 2 spring onions, trimmed and finely chopped
- 1 long red chilli, trimmed and finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon regular soy sauce
- 170g (6oz) firm tofu
- To make the dough, in a small bowl, stir together the water, yeast and 1 tablespoon of the sugar. Set aside for 10 minutes to allow the yeast to activate.
- In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, salt and remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar. Slowly add the yeast mixture to the bowl and stir together with a wooden spoon to form a dough.
- Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Brush the inside of a mixing bowl with oil and add the dough. Brush the dough lightly with oil, cover loosely with clingfilm and leave in a warm place for 1 hour to prove until doubled in size.
- While the dough is proving, make the filling. Soak the sweet potato noodles in enough boiling water to cover for 10 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water to cool, then cut into 5-mm (¼-inch) lengths. Heat the vegetable oil in a large frying pan over a medium-high heat, add the minced pork and fry for 2–3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until browned all over. Add the salt, pepper, kimchi and garlic to the pan, cook for 2 minutes more, then add the spring onions, chilli and soy sauce. Crumble over the tofu and cook for a further 2 minutes, using the back of a wooden spoon to break up any large lumps of tofu, then add the sweet potato noodles and mix everything together well. Set aside to cool.
- Once proved, gently tip the risen dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes to knock back any air bubbles. Brush the inside of the bowl with some more oil and return the dough to the bowl, then brush the top of the dough with a little more oil and cover it again loosely with clingfilm. Leave to prove for another 15 minutes.
- Once the dough has proved for the second time, tip it back onto the floured surface and knead for 5 minutes to loosen it up again. Shape the dough into a long sausage, then divide it into eight equal-sized pieces. Roll each piece out into a thin circle about 12cm (4½ inches) in diameter.
- Flour your hands and take a piece of dough so it lies flat across your palm. Place 2–3 tablespoons of your cooled filling into the middle of the dough, then pull one edge of your dough to the centre and brush the outside edge with water. Continue pulling the edges of the dough into the centre, working around your bun, dabbing it with a little more water each time to stick the dough down. Once all the edges are at the centre, twist the middle of the bun to seal.
- Cut a sheet of greaseproof paper into eight 7-cm (2¾-inch) squares and brush each with a little vegetable oil. Lay these on the base of a bamboo or metal steamer, then place a bun (seal-side up) on top of each square, ensuring there is plenty of room between them to allow for expansion while cooking. Steam for 15 minutes, then turn off the heat, remove the lid and leave to stand for 5 minutes to allow the excess steam to dissipate.
Korean food is great for intense sweet, spicy, fermented flavours. Try using gochujang which adds all of this as well as a bright red hue to your food.