Pork Buns


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Makes



Appears in

New York Cult Recipes

New York Cult Recipes

By Marc Grossman

Published 2013

  • About

In a typical New York mixed marriage, this popular Chinatown fast food can be recreated at home by combining the basic challah dough recipe with a not-particularly-kosher pork shoulder, marinated in a home-made char siu sauce with no MSG or food colouring.


Char Siu Marinade

  • 30 g (1 oz) peanut butter
  • 125 ml (4 fl oz/½ cup) soy sauce
  • 225 g (8 oz) acacia or other light honey or liquid glucose
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 teaspoons rice vinegar
  • 45 ml ( fl oz) rice vinegar or Mei Kuei Lu Chiew (Chinese rose wine)
  • teaspoons Chinese five-spice
  • 2 pinches bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
  • 750 g (1 lb 10 oz) pork shoulder or loin
  • 2 pinches cornflour (cornstarch)
  • 1 quantity challah dough


The Marinade

In a bowl, make a slurry by combining the peanut butter with the same amount of soy sauce. Gradually add the rest of the soy sauce. Mix in the rest of the char siu marinade ingredients, finishing with the bicarbonate of soda. For a saucier bun, set aside 2–3 tablespoons of sauce before adding the bicarbonate of soda. You can dress the pork with this sauce after it has been baked and chopped, and before it is wrapped in the dough.

The Meat

Trim any excess fat from the pork and make a series of deep incisions at 2 cm (¾ inch) intervals. Cover the pork with the marinade inside a ziplock bag. Close the bag, removing as much air as possible, and place it in the refrigerator. The pork should be completely submerged in the sauce. Marinate for 12–24 hours. Preheat the oven to 230°C (450°F/Gas 8). Cook on a wire rack in a roasting pan for 45–55 minutes until the internal temperature reaches a minimum of 62°C (144°F). Allow the meat to cool and chop into small pieces. Toss the meat in the cornflour, then, if you put aside any char siu sauce without the bicarbonate of soda, add it to the meat as well.

Shaping and Cooking

Make the challah dough following the recipe to the first rise. Divide the dough into 15 equal portions. Make a hollow in the middle of each portion of dough, place about 40 g ( oz) roast pork into the hollow and pinch the dough closed around the meat. Place the closed buns on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Dust with flour and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let the buns rise for 1 hour at room temperature. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4). Brush the tops of the buns with the egg white and sugar glaze from the challah recipe. Cook the buns for 15–20 minutes until golden brown.