We’re just going to come right out and say it: We may like scrapple even better than bacon on occasion. The classic Pennsylvania Dutch breakfast meat is formed into a loaf made from cornmeal, buckwheat, and pork scraps and trimmings, which may include the skin, liver, tongue, heart, brains, and eyes of the pig. But don’t let the idea of an unfamiliar meat product deter you from trying the scrapple steamed buns at Baltimore’s EJJI Ramen. Chef Ten Vong stuffs scrapple into fluffy, homemade steamed buns for a new take on a dim sum classic. The sandwiches are adorned with raisins simmered in sake and homemade pickled ramps. Since ramps are only in season during the spring, pickled beets, leeks, or the bottoms of spring onions work just as well. Finish it off with a schmear of chili aioli that’ll make you a hardcore scrapple-lover.
Note: Buying store-bought ingredients will save time, and start the pickled ramps a couple days in advance before serving.
Scrapple Steamed Buns with Chili Aioli, Sake Raisins, Pickled Ramps, and Celery Salad
For sake raisins, pickled ramps, and celery salad
¼ cup raisins
½ cup cheap, drinkable sake or white wine
¼ pound ramp bulbs (white part) or bottoms of leeks
½ cup water
3 ¼ cups white vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1 hot chili pepper
¼ tablespoon mustard seeds
¼ tablespoon coriander
3 bay leaves
1 stalk celery
For the scrapple steamed buns
6 Taiwanese open-faced steamed buns, a.k.a. gwa pao (most Asian markets will have them in packets of 10)
1 pound scrapple (we get our homemade scrapple from an Amish market but newer local butchers will have them as well; if not available, you can get a national brand like RAPA)
1 tablespoon cooking oil
For chili aioli
¼ cup mayo
1 tablespoon sambal oelek
How to Make It
For the sake raisins. Put ¼ cup raisins and ½ cup sake in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Slowly reduce to simmer and cook until liquid is thick and syrupy. There should be about ⅛ cup of liquid left. Remove from heat and cool.
For the pickled ramps. Put all ingredients (except for ramps) in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes. Let cool. Place ramps in a airtight container and once the liquid has cooled, pour the mixture over the ramps. Cover and let sit for 3 days before using. Keep refrigerated for up to 3 weeks.
For the salad. Wash the stalk of celery and slice across the grain into crescent-shaped, ¼-inch thick pieces. Mix together celery, sake raisins and ⅛ cup of pickled ramps until well combined. Season to taste with kimchi salt and black pepper. Set aside.
For the scrapple. Slice scrapple into 6 slices about ½ inch thick. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Place scrapple in skillet and cook for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Remove from pan and place on paper towels to remove excess oil.
For the buns. In a bamboo steamer, place each buns on a square of parchment paper. Steam in an even layer over medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes.
For the chili aioli. Mix together mayo and sambal oelek in a small bowl until well combined.
For assembly. Open the buns and spread the chili aioli evenly each side. Divide the scrapple between the 6 buns and top with about 2 tablespoons on the salad.