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A beef bun is a variation of another savory Chinese treat called the pork bun; both are prepared in a package widely known as Cha Siu Bao. They both glisten to a brown coat and look like doughnuts that just might be filled with sweet jellies or creams. What is inside, however, is ground beef or pulled pork, smothered in a tangy, distinctly Asian barbecue sauce.
The beef bun's flavor hinges on a few key facets. A doughy, unbrowned bread casing can lead to textural problems. Without a properly made barbecue sauce and meat, the filling will not be worth the effort of creating a pastry. As with any cuisine, the more that is spent on ingredients, the better the final result should be.
The breading of the beef bun can be constructed of store-bought dinner roll dough, or it can be made from scratch. Though measurements vary slightly, preparing the breading requires whisking water, dry yeast and salt until the mixture becomes frothy. Then, flour, more sugar and salt are mixed in a separate bowl, and finally combined with the yeast solution. Finally, two eggs and some oil are kneaded into the flour until a doughy, malleable consistency indicates that the dough is ready for baking.
It is then time to move on to the meat filling, as the dough rests and rises. Oil, then ginger root, then garlic are heated over medium heat; then ground beef, soy, paprika, sweet hoisin sauce and ground pepper are combined in the skillet until the meat is browned. Some chopped red pepper and green onions can then be tossed into the meat, immediately before its removed from the heat.
In preparation for the oven, baking sheets are greased, and the filling is stuffed with a spoon into hockey-puck-sized portions of dough. The chef must make sure the dough balls completely engulf the filling. This will ensure that the bread bakes up uniformly and without leaks. Many chefs place the beef bun seam-side-down on the baking pans. Beef buns bake at 350°F (177°C) in about 20 minutes.
Just before entering the oven, an egg is usually whisked with a few tablespoons of milk (about 30 ml). This concoction can then be brushed over the top of each beef bun. The result is an intense brown coloring that will add texture and flavor to the final product.
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