This is an adapted version of "Cha Siu Bau," BBQ Pork Buns, from "Dim Sum and Other Chinese Street Food." This recipe makes 8 buns.
This has always been one of my favorite things, but I don't like BBQ pork so much, and I do like BBQ tempeh.
You need some tempeh, about one 8 oz package (or less, the original recipe made 16 buns, which would normally hold 12 oz of BBQ pork. Tempeh is sold in 8 oz packs, so halfing the recipe, as I have done here, makes a little more filling than buns. But the leftover BBQ Tempeh works real well in a sandwich, or in this case, we ate it for breakfast the next morning, with grits.) Here's that tempeh, diced into pea sized cubes.
The diced tempeh should be marinaded in a ziploc bag with 1/4 cup BBQ sauce: (2 T Ketchup, 1 and 1/2 tsp dijon mustard, 1 T molasses, 1 and 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar,) and about 1 or 2 T of fermented black beans.
While this sits, get to work on the dumplings! Hurry! They take two hours!
First step, since this is a risen dough, we make a sponge, which checks the vitality of the yeast.
1/2 tsp active dry yeast, 2 T tepid water (right at body temp or slightly above), 1/4 cup cake or pastry flour, low gluten is important. Dissolve the yeast in the water, mix in the flour, let this sit for 15 minutes. It should start to bubble and rise, if it does, move on! If not, get some different yeast.
Add 1 cup flour, 1/4 cup powdered sugar, 1/4 cup of tepid water. Mix this all in with a spoon and then cover the bowl with saran wrap, let this sit somewhere warm until it rises and doubles its volume, 40 minutes to 2 hours. If you live in Florida, anywhere is fine, if not, use an oven that was heated to low (200 degrees) for a few minutes, and then turned off and let sit for five minutes.
Here's a picture after the 1st rise, it's been punched down, and kneaded for a few minutes on a lightly floured surface, then put back into the bowl. On the side is 2 T more tepid water, and 1 and a half tsp of shortening, softened to room temp.
Massage this warm fat and water into the dough, it will be sticky, seriously.
Then, on a lightly floured surface, knead in a final 1/2 cup flour with 1 tsp baking powder added.
Cover with saran wrap and then, back into the warm oven for another 40 minutes. Here it is after the 2nd rise.
Cut up one half an onion, one clove of garlic. Sautee along with the tempeh in 1 T of peanut oil over medium to medium high heat. Get some good carmelization going.
Cut out eight little three inch squares out of wax paper and set them aside. After the dough has risen, roll it into a snake with your hands on a lightly floured surface, and cut it into eight bits. Take a bit, pat and pull it into a circle. Let it rest in your palm, the dough will stick to your hand, but it sticks to everything else in a much worse way. The trick is to move fast, so...
Quickly! Fill the circles with 1 to 2 T of the filling.
Pull the stretchy dough up around the filling and set them on the wax paper. Transferring the dumplings from here to there is now much easier. Just pick up the edges of the paper. The dumplings will stick to the paper, so serve them with the paper on, and tell your guests that you meant to do that. It's like a cupcake, and peeling the paper off is part of the fun.
Dumplings get steamed vigorously for 15 minutes, covered.
They will double in size.
Now you can eat them. If for some reason, you don't eat all of them instantly, (they are good!) they can be re-heated in the microwave for 30 seconds and they are as good as new.