A beloved dim sum staple, baked Chinese roast pork pastry puffs (char siu sou) are extremely flaky on the outside with a flavorful pork filling inside. Making the pastry from scratch yields a much more authentic flavor and texture than using shortcuts with store-bought puff pastry.
1tablespoonchilled lard, vegetable shortening, or cold unsalted buttercut into ½-inch pieces
Short Dough (Inner Layer):
3 ¾ounces(¾ cup) all-purpose flour
6tablespoonschilled lard, vegetable shortening, or cold unsalted buttercut into ½-inch pieces
Char Siu Filling:
½teaspoontoasted sesame oil
2teaspoonspeanut or vegetable oil
¼cupfinely chopped onion
1teaspooncornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon water
4ounceschar siu (Chinese BBQ pork)finely diced (homemade or store-bought)
1egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water
To make the water dough: combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse 2 to 3 times. Sprinkle in the pieces of lard/shortening/butter and process 10 more seconds until the mixture looks like coarse meal. (Alternatively, put ingredients in a mixing bowl and use your fingers in a quick rubbing motion to combine).
Transfer mixture to a bowl (if you used food processor method), make a well in the center, and add the warm water. Use a wooden spoon or your fingers to stir into a ragged mass. Gently knead for about 2 minutes to create a soft, smooth, and slightly elastic dough. Pressing your finger in the dough should cause the dough to slowly bounce back, leaving a faint impression. Wrap with plastic wrap and set aside at room temperature to rest for 20 to 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, to make the short dough: put the flour in the food processor and sprinkle in the lard/shortening/butter. Process for 10 seconds to blend and generate a mealy, lumpy, soft mixture. Transfer to the same bowl as before and squeeze with your fist until the dough comes together into a soft but cohesive mass. (Alternatively, put the ingredients in the bowl and use your fingers or the back of the wooden spoon to mash together until no flour is visible). It will resemble soft cookie dough.
To encase and laminate the dough: Gather and pat the short dough on a lightly floured surface into a 3-by-4-inch rectangle. Set aside. Return the water dough to the lightly floured work surface and roll it out into a 5-by-8 ½-inch rectangle, with one long edge toward you (like a landscape photo). Place the short dough in the center of the water dough, with one short edge toward you (like a portrait photo). Fold the sides of the water dough over the short dough with the edges overlapping slightly (like enclosing a photo in a letter). Press the overlapping edges and both ends to seal in the short dough completely. Roll out in the direction of the folds to make a rectangle about 6-by-18-inches. Fold the dough into thirds to form a 6-inch square. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Unwrap the dough and roll it out again in the same direction to make a 6-by-18-inch rectangle as before. Fold in thirds, wrap, and refrigerate for another 30 minutes. Repeat the rolling and folding processes once more (that’s 3 times total). Cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate it at least 30 minutes, and up to 1 day ahead, before the final rolling and shaping.
To make the filling: in a small bowl, stir together the water, sugar, hoisin sauce, oyster sauce, soy sauce, and sesame oil, and set aside. Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and stir-fry for 3 minutes or until translucent. Stir the flavoring sauce into the onion and heat for 30 seconds or until bubbly. Give the cornstarch mixture a final stir and add to the skillet. Cook for 30 seconds longer, or until the sauce has thickened. Stir in the char siu and remove from the heat. Cool to room temperature.
To assemble and bake: Preheat the oven to 400°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll out the prepared dough into a 13-inch square. Using a ruler, trim off the uneven edges to make a 12-inch square, then cut the dough in thirds crosswise and quarters lengthwise to make 12 (3-by-4-inch) rectangles.
Place 1 tablespoon of the char siu filling across the center of each rectangle in the 3-inch direction, leaving about ½-inch border on either side for sealing. Overlap the dough over the filling (like enclosing a photo in a letter). Press down to seal in the filling on all sides. If the dough isn't sticking together easily you may dab the inside edges of the pastry with water before folding it closed.
Flip the pastry over so the seal is on the bottom, and use the tines of a fork to seal the short edges. Place on the baking sheet and repeat with the remaining dough and filling, spacing pastries 1-inch apart on the baking sheet.
Brush the pastries with egg wash, then sprinkle them with sesame seeds. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until golden. Cool briefly on a wire rack. These are best served warm, but are also delicious at room temperature.
Unbaked char siu sou may be covered and frozen until firm and then transferred to a zip-top freezer bag. Place frozen pastries on a baking sheet as above and let them thaw 30 minutes before proceeding.
Baked char siu sou can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen. Reheat them in a 350°F oven or toaster oven until the filling is warmed through and the pastry is crispy and flaky, about 10 minutes.