Thursday, March 27, 2008

something to accompany a strong cup of tea

There's less than a month of second semester left, and my professors are piling on reading assignments with alarming speed. I'm up to my ears in notes on choice of forum and conflict of laws, and I'm in danger of drowning in treatises on easements and equitable servitudes. It probably doesn't come as a surprise that I need to fortify myself with multiple cups of strong tea in order to not fall asleep at (or on) my casebooks.

Sooner or later, those cups of strong tea require an accompaniment, something more substantial than teacakes. And this is when I wander into the realm of dim sum of dubious authenticity: say hello to the steamed sausage roll.

I'm a little unclear on the origins of steamed sausage rolls. I've never seen them at any dim sum place aside from Dim Sum Chef (where they may be found right next to the deep-fried bananas), and Google has proved unhelpful.

The most that I've been able to ascertain is that they're made with the same dough used for char siu bao (barbecued pork buns), and contain lop cheung, your standard sweet Chinese sausage.

The traditional dough used for making char siu bao is leavened with both yeast and baking powder, which gives results that are soft and ethereally fluffy. I never seem to have yeast on hand when I need it, so I cheat. In a move that has probably left Cantonese dim sum chefs rolling in their graves, I've been preparing what is essentially a modified biscuit dough. The results aren't quite as fluffy, but they are soft and pleasantly chewy, and they go very nicely with a strong cup of tea.

Now, where did I put that treatise on beachfront access?

Inauthentic Steamed Sausage Rolls

(Makes six rolls. Allow for two rolls per cup of tea.)

To make the dough, dump one cup of all-purpose flour, two tablespoons sugar, half a teaspoon of salt, one teaspoon baking powder, and one tablespoon vegetable oil into a mixing bowl. Add enough water to form a soft dough - somewhat less than half a cup.

Knead the dough until it pulls away from the sides of the bowl. You want some gluten development, but not too much, so don't knead it longer than five minutes. Shape it into a ball, cover, and set aside for ten to fifteen minutes.

Cut a square of parchment paper to fit your steamer basket. (You can also cut individual pieces of parchment, but one large square is easier.)

Take two Chinese sausages and cut each into thirds.

Divide your ball of dough into six pieces. Roll each ball into a long, thin coil, and wrap each coil around a sausage piece. The sausage should be fully covered, like this:

Place the wrapped sausage rolls into the steamer basket, and steam for twelve to fifteen minutes, or until the rolls are soft and fluffy.

Serve immediately. Optional extra: soy sauce for dipping.


wing said...

They are common as hell in Hong Kong. I've seen them very often in New York as well.

adele said...

Huh. Maybe they just didn't catch on in Australia.

Virgin In The Volcano said...

I've seem them in NY too though I have to admit I've stayed away from them. It's the pork buns and shrimp dumplings that have my heart.

Julie said...

I've never seen them before but they look delicious. That first year law school stuff(not to mention the other two years) sounds like it's full of much tedious reading. I guess there's a lot of steamed sausage rolls and tea in your future.

Ann said...

Mmmm... love them!

Melanie said...

I love you blog, I have added it to my favorite blogger link. I hope you don't mind.


Cakelaw said...

These are the cutest sausage rolls that I have ever seen - yum!

adele said...

Melanie - Mind? Not at all! I'm quite delighted. :)

Kathleen said...

So these are basically Asian pigs in a blanket?

adele said...


Foodichka said...

Even though I'm not Asian, I grew up loving bao. They were a special treat my father would bring home- he worked in Chinatown. I always wondered if they were hard to make. I may try these now- can I fill them with chopped roasted pork instead? Those rock my world.

adele said...

Oh, definitely. Char siu bao are a little more complicated - the pork is marinated in some kind of sauce - but if you're making cheater's dough, stuffing and steaming them is a straightforward process.

Dhanggit said...

i love these steam buns with pork, but i must admit your version sounds delicious!! i'll bookmark this recipe :-)