Once upon a time before facebook, and America, and school dinners, there was a boy called Jamie who rode a moped and spoke like a twat. Jamie was a nice boy and he had lots of nice, funny, good looking friends who enjoyed coming round to dinner in his funky mezzanined flat. Before Jamie there was Delia, Brian Turner, Rick Stein, Anthony Worral-Thompson, and Gary Fucking Rhodes. Of course MarcoPierre White popped up occasionally, usually to throw a risotto about or de-bone an ortolan, as entertaining as that was, it was no use to me.
Jamie couldn’t just cook, he made food fun. He wasn’t old (Delia) or smug (Gary) or northern (Turner) or small, hairy and disgusting (AWT). He was from Essex and he liked brit-pop and he tossed off with olive oil.
Then he met Jules and had some kids and gave them some shit aspirational middle class names that the Daily Mail love. He got all sentimental and decided to save the world and turned into a MASSIVE WET DONKEY.
In between being a hero and being the laughing stock of America Jamie wrote some of the most exciting cookbooks of the naughties. He made me want to eat tomatoes when I hated tomatoes.He hit drums and sang about goat curry– I wanted to bang drums and sing about goat curry too – and I LOVED HIM and I am not ashamed.
(I realise now that I have missed out huge chunks of Jamie’s work: Setting up fifteen and all that other stuff – but I hate overly long blog posts and I also hate sounding like I lick JO’s rim. It isn’t good for my virtual street cred.)
Anyway, I digress.
Not being able to bear visiting Mr Peking Tasty at the MSG capital of Croydon, but in desperate need of a saturday night Chinese fix, I turned to the oracle on Chinese cookery, Mr Jamie Oliver. Chinese style pork buns, Chinese style chicken in cabbage leaves, and some steamed aubergine thing, all magicked up inside the bamboo steamer, all very easy.
Here is the recipe
Steamed Pork Buns Chinese style
For the Filling:
2x 200g/7oz Pork chops
Salt and pepper
1 tbsp five spice
3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
2 dried chillies, crumbled
1 wineglass of fresh orange juice
6tbsp hoi-sin sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
1tbsp sweet chilli sauce
one handful fresh lime leaves (these are to line the steamer so you can sub in some greaseproof paper if you want. The lime leaves smell good though.)
For the buns:
1x 7g individual sachet of dried yeast
200ml/7oz tepid water
250g/9oz plain flour
100g/ 3&1/2 oz cornflour
50g/ 1&3/4 oz butter
to serve – soy sauce and sweet chilli sauce
For the filling:
Dress the chops up with some salt and pepper and five spice and flap ’em about a bit so they’re nice and covered. Fry in the olive oil, not moving them around too much just flip after 5 minutes and heat until they look brown and cooked through. Add the chopped up garlic, ginger and chilli, and continue to fry for a minute, tossing the spices around bit so the kitchen starts smelling like a foreign country. Add the orange juice, squeeze it through your fingers and catch the pips like a man, and let it bubble away until it has reduced by half. Empty into a bowl and let it cool. When cooled remove one pork chop and put all the other crap into a food processor and blitz it up. Chop the other chop into bits as rough as you like, I like it rough like Whitney Dean, I imagine you’ll like it more refined. Lob everything into a bowl with the hoi-sin, sesame oil and chili sauce. Stir it all about.
For the buns:
Put the yeast in a bowl with half the water. In another bowl mix your flour and salt and rub in the butter (make sure it’s room temperature when it goes in, it makes life easier). When the yeast looks a bit like a scummy section of the thames pour in the rest of the water, add this to the flour and butter and use your hands to mix the lot into a soft dough – if it is far too dry add a teeny drop of water and try again. Cover your bowl with cling film and leave it in a warm place until it doubles in size.
When its gone massive you want to take your dough and rip off bits the size of a racket-ball. If you don’t know how big a racket-ball is then think of a big lime, or a small lemon – that size. squash the ball down into a little squashy cup shape, like a red blood cell from GCSE Biology. Slap a teaspoon of your pork mix in the middle and fold the edges back up to make it look like a racket-ball again. Do this with the rest of the dough. You should have about 12 buns and probably a hit load of pork mix left over, it’s ok you can eat this with a teaspoon later, or for breakfast tomorrow.
Now you hav made your balls you need to cook them. Put your lime leaves across the bottom of your steamer then sit your balls on top, leaving space between the buns to allow them to expand – they almost double in size. Whack the steamer over boiling water and in 10minutes they are done.
Serve them in the bamboo steamer with some soy or some sweet chilli – they look good, they taste good, they are guaranteed to make girls fancy you.
Recipe borrowed from Jamie’s Kitchen. Other great dishes from the book are shown below.
Chinese chicken parcels and steamed aubergine (with added Chinese leaf heart)