This genius recipe is the perfect solution for anyone who craves delightful, soft and fluffy steamed buns, but doesn’t own a steamer (i.e. most of us). Here, we create a pseudo-steamer using the ever-versatile sheet pan; simply place a wire rack (for the buns to sit on) in a sheet pan filled with a shallow layer of water, tent the buns loosely with foil, and you’re ready to go. While you steam the buns, you’ll use another sheet pan to simultaneously cook the deliciously crispy pulled pork that you’ll fill the buns with. You can find frozen bao buns (we used Wei-Chuan brand) at your local Asian market—and you can also pick up gochujang, ponzu sauce, and Kewpie mayo there as well. We prefer Kewpie in this recipe as it is a bit sweeter than typical mayonnaise, which is a great balance to the gochujang. And if you want to cut back on the heat a bit, as the saucy pork definitely has a kick, reduce the gochujang by 1 tablespoon. These little buns make for a great game day snack or party appetizer, and the recipe is easily multiplied to serve more people.
1/2 cup water
8 (3 1/2-in.) frozen bao buns
1 pound pulled pork
1/4 cup gochujang
3 tablespoons kewpie mayonnaise
1 1/2 tablespoons ponzu sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
1 cup sliced English cucumber (about 4 oz.)
1/2 cup matchstick carrots (about 1 1/2 oz.)
1/4 cup fried shallots (such as Maesri)
1/4 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves
Lime wedges, for serving
How to Make It
Preheat oven to 475°F with 1 rack in top third of oven and 1 rack in bottom third of oven. Place a wire rack in a rimmed baking sheet; lightly grease rack. Coat a large piece of aluminum foil with cooking spray. Pour water into baking sheet. Place buns on rack, and tent with prepared foil, cooking spray side down, sealing tightly at edges.
Lightly grease an aluminum-foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. Spread pork in an even layer on prepared baking sheet. Place pork on top oven rack and buns on bottom rack; bake 10 minutes. Increase heat to broil, and broil until pork begins to crisp, 2 to 4 minutes.
Stir together gochujang, mayonnaise, ponzu, and rice vinegar. Toss crispy pork in gochujang mixture, and divide evenly among buns. Top evenly with cucumber, carrots, shallots, and cilantro. Serve with lime wedges.