Happy Lunar New Year! I’m really excited to bring you this post today, albeit a bit later than usual. I got slammed with work yesterday. And by work, I mean that it was imperative that I go to a bar to eat wings, drink beer, and watch grown men in tight pants slam into each other while crowds booed or cheered. It was fun! Not only were there wings and beer, but tater tots, fried pickles, and mozzarella sticks made an appearance. Oh, and also Beyonce. All in all, a really great night. But of course, I am e-x-h-a-u-s-t-e-d today. No matter. We’re here now. Welcome, friends, to my second New Year celebration, but with, dare I say it, much, much, much better food. My kingdom for a Lunar New Year feast every year. My boy Donny Tsang is the genius behind these char siu bao – he got a bunch of my favorite bloggers and photographers together to make Chinese baked goods for the holiday this year, and I’m so happy that he did! I probably wouldn’t have had the guts to make these otherwise.
Chinese breads are super soft and pillowy, thanks to a little something called the “tangzhong method“. This method is a lot easier than it sounds. Basically, you’re making a roux. A really light roux, in fact, so you don’t even have to stand over the stove stirring anything for very long. I have no idea what the chemistry behind the magic really means, but what I do know is that every time I go to a Chinese bakery and try the bread, it’s always this soft, cloud-like texture that apparently uses this same technique. So, ye of little faith, go ahead and carry out that extra step if you dream of light, fluffy, melt-in-your-mouth bread. Seeing as how we just recently got back from China, I’m stoked that I can still eat these little pockets of deliciousness right in my very own home.
Sooooo yeah. I made char siu bao! Well, baked char siu bao. It’s typically steamed, but I don’t own a steamer, so I went for a more Westernized route. They were still so good, though. I would have eaten all of them if I hadn’t already planned to stuff myself full of Super Bowl food later on. It may seem like a lot of work to crank these suckers out, but it really wasn’t that bad, and plus, the recipe makes twice as much pork as you need for the buns, so you have leftovers to eat with eggs in the morning or to add to some veggies for weekday lunches. I was so pleased with how these turned out – golden, shiny tops that crack open to reveal soft, fluffy bread and slightly sweet, tender roasted pork. Put these on your to-do list for the weekend – it’s worth it.