Growing up we hung out at a place we dubbed the Loop. Basically it was just a circular driveway where we would congregate on bikes and skateboards. And also where the ice cream trucks would park when they made the rounds to our neighborhood. Once we heard the bells from the Good Humor man we would run like Pavlov’s dogs and clamor around the trucks.
Besides the ice cream trucks we also had a food truck that frequented our hangout. We called him The Chow Chow Man. Now this was before the popularity of food trucks so this guy was way ahead of his time. The Chow Chow man sold a very strange and unique American Asian fusion cuisine.
One particular item, which was, hands down, the best seller, was his egg roll. Instead of a filling of pork and shredded cabbage, they contained a hotdog wrapped in American cheese. I cringe now when I think about it but as a kid I LOVED them. It was his version of American junk food. This guy was a genius; he must have sold thousands of those egg rolls. I am sure my mother was not aware we were spending our Popsicle money on them right before dinner. I am also sure we didn’t eat our dinner on the days we bought them.
In the spirit of the Chow Chow man I am going to do an American twist on one of my favorite Dim Sum dishes – Cha sui bao, buns filled with barbeque flavored pork. Instead of the soft doughy buns I am going to wrap the filling in pizza dough, and replace the scallions with green beans. Weird I know, but I think my kids are going to love them.
Cha siu bao – American-style
Dumpling Filling (adapted from Asian Dumplings” by Andrea Nguyen)
Step 1: Make the pork
1 clove garlic, smashed
1 1/2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 Tsp ground ginger
2 1/2 Tbsp hoisin sauce
1 1/2 Tbsp honey
1 1/2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 1/2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 1/2 Tbsp sesame oil
1 lb. Country style pork ribs (boneless), cut into 1 1/2 inch strips
Mix the first eight ingredients in a large zip lock bag or bowl. Remove 1/3 of the marinade and set aside in refrigerator, to be used later to baste the pork. Place the pork into the marinade and coat evenly. Cover and refrigerate for at least 6-8 hours, turning once or twice.
Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet lined with foil and place a baking rack on top. Place the pork on the rack and discard the used marinade.
Roast for 30 minutes. Turn and baste with the reserved marinade every 10 minutes. The pork is done when it is glazed and slightly charred. Remove and let rest for 10 minutes. Dice into small cubes and set aside.
Step 2: Make the filling
1 Tbsp sugar
Pinch of salt and pepper
1 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp hoisin sauce
1 Tbsp water
1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch
2 Tbsp warm water
2 tsp canola oil
1 cup of green beans, sliced into small rounds
1 small onion, finely diced
1 lb pork ribs, diced
Combine the sugar, salt, pepper, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, and water in a small bowl. Stir to dissolve sugar and set aside. In another small bowl, mix the vinegar, cornstarch and water. Stir until cornstarch dissolved and set aside.
In a large skillet heat the canola oil over medium heat. Add the onions and green beans, cook until softened and slightly caramelized.
And the pork and combine well. Next add the sugar mixture and cook, stirring frequently until the pork is heated through. Then add the cornstarch mixture and cook until the mixture gets nice and sticky. Remove from heat.
Note: The first two steps can be prepared up to 2 days in advance. Keep refrigerated.
Step 3: Assemble the “buns”
1 package store bought pizza dough
Olive oil for brushing
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare large baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll out pizza dough on a lightly floured surface. Cut small rounds with a pastry round. The top of a glass will work well too.
Place a spoonful of filling into the center of the dough round and pinch ends together. Place on baking sheet with the pinched side down. Poke small hole in top of each to allow steam to escape. Brush a small amount of olive oil over the tops. Bake for approximately 15-18 minutes until dough is crispy on bottom and top is lightly browned. Filling will bubble over slightly through the hole in top.
And the VERDICT is:
Matthew (age 6): “Oh, nice Chinese platter” “Lots of people will read this one!”
Liam (age 4): “I could just tell these were gonna be good!”
Dylan (age 4): “Really, really, really yummy”
House of Bedlam food truck here we come!