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Linger. Denver. GABF2012. Six over grown children let loose in an attractive, and from what I can tell, well toned city. And that image certainly maintains its lustre across the highway where Linger’s bright logo affixed to the top of its warehouse/loft exterior beckons the hottest hipsters, and in our case, drunkest drunks who want killer food. Inside: the best steamed bun experience of my life. Duck buns. Pork belly buns. See: Image

Those were an epiphany.

Back home. I must make these! Luckily my mooching off of my grandparents Saveur subscription is still proving fruitful, as I found the upcoming recipe. All it took was a trip to the Asian market across the street to get the biggest damn bamboo steamer I could find and boom…I was dumpling ready. HOWEVER. A proclamation must be made: I AM STILL LEARNING on how to make these. The following serves only as a nudge from behind. I’m talking to you Mandy! Do it…

Get these things for your hot buns: 

  • 1 tsp active dry yeast
  • 3.5 cups of cake flour (If you don’t have cake flour, sub 2 tbs of cornstarch per cup of flour. Meaning, for every tbs of cornstarch you add, remove the same amount of flour.)
  • 1 tbs sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbs diced lard or vegetable shortening
  • bamboo steamer (size is up to you, but make sure it fits in a wok or pot you have as we have to steam these babies)
  • PARCHMENT PAPER Cut into 16 2″x2″ squares (don’t use wax!)
  • some free time

Got those things already, you say? GOOD: 

  1. Get hot water running-preferably around 115F (Don’t have a thermometer? Test it by the ouch method-if you can’t stand it, then its hot enough.)-and put 1.25 cups of that hot-ass water in a bowl, then dump your yeast on top of it. Let it sits till it gets foamy, which should be around 10 minutes.
  2. While that is sitting, combine your flour, sugar, and baking powder in a mixer with a dough paddle, turn on low speed. If you don’t have a mixer, I’m sorry. Get a pliable spatula and get mixing. Add your yeast mixture. Then add your diced lard, one piece at a time. Then crank that baby up to medium until your dough forms into some kind of ball. Maybe 5 minutesish?
  3. Once you get a nice ball, put into a lightly greased bowl, cover with syran wrap and let sit until doubled. Maybe 2 hours or so. Guestimate people!
  4. Once it doubles you will need to knead until its smooth and elastic. You should definitely perceive a texture change for sure. It shouldn’t tear basically, but stretch. Helps if you have a mixer with the dough hook. If not…I’m sorry!
  5. Once you are satisfied you have stretchy, nice dough, shape those babies into 16 equal sized balls, which I found to be about 1.7oz since I had a scale. They should roughly be the size of your palm, more or less.

Got those balls? What you wanna put in them??

Here’s where stuff can get fun. What do you have laying around? A pulled pork shoulder? Shredded beef? Leftover turkey? Fried rice? Blackberries and marscopone? The first two times I did this, I had pulled pork sitting around, so I used that. Never pulled pork, you whisper under your breath? Read this. Once you have your choice of filling, make a fun little sauce for it:

  • 1 tbs canola oil
  • 3 scallions (the white, not green, parts) chopped finely
  • 1.5 cups of your filling, diced finely
  • 3 tbs of soy sauce
  • 3 tbs of oyster sauce
  • 1 tbs sugar
  • 1 tsp cornstarch

Get a hot pan and follow:

  1. Heat that oil over medium heat, then toss your scallions in it for 1 minute or so.
  2. Add pork, oyster and soy sauces and sugar, then cook for 3 minutes or so, mainly to heat the pork.
  3. While that is going, combine your cornstarch in 2 tbs of water then add to your cooking mixture and MAKE SURE IT THICKENS. Seriously. If you get it too watery it is a HUGE pain in the ass to sculpt your dumplings. So make sure it is thick. Seriously.
  4. Once it has thickened, let it cool.

OK. Intermission. Grab a drink. We’re almost done. 

  • Grab one of your 16 balls and put it in the palm of your hand, then make a well (which I equate to pretty much flattening) with your thumb. You need the well to be big enough to hold the filling, but you also need to have enough dry dough around the filling so you can close it up. 1 tbs or so seems to be a pretty good size to work with. But honestly, I want to try to add more next time.
  • Once the filling is in, seal the dumpling by pinching the dough closed towards the center. Make sure that baby is sealed all the way across the plane. Then cut/slice a small “x” on the top of the bun. Those babies need to breath! Once sealed and cut, place seal down, on one of your 2″x 2″ parchment squares. Repeat 15 more times.
  • Make sure you have a lightly dampened paper towel to cover the buns while you are sealing and xing, OK? Once all are done, I would even let them sit for a little while, maybe 15-20 minutes. Let that gluten relax and soften up ya’ll.
  • While they are resting, heat your wok with a couple of cups of water to a boil. Place your squares with your little dumplins in your bamboo basket. Don’t over crowd. They should not be touching. Then steam for about 12 minutes. Once done, pull off heat and remove your lid. You don’t want water dripping back on these babies! This is what mine looked like: Image
  • Aaaand if you don’t have a bamboo steamer, try baking at 350F until golden. They are equally awesome.

If you wanna bounce while filling these things TRY THIS. If you wanna mellow out, TRY THIS.