WE ARE BACK AGAIN, and where do I even start this week? With the fact that Soma invented a dough that can be a bread dough OR a pasta dough? With the fact that I don't have the time to make bread doughs from scratch?! With the fact that a bunch of people accepted food from a complete stranger in this last episode?!?!
I mean, that last one wasn't so strange. After all, Soma was a finalist for the autumn elections, and they were at a food school to eat student-made food creations. Still, for Soma to go around at night just trying to pawn off his food on unsuspecting strangers... That's pretty ballsy for him, and those people... So trusting! Amazing. Japan at night truly is a magical place.
Putting that aside, let's talk about how Soma made a dough for a bun that can double as a dough for fresh-made noodles. I'm not an expert or anything, but I'm gonna go ahead and call BS on this one. Breads for buns typically have some kind of leavener in them, and when I researched this recipe, all the recipes I could find included a leavener of some sort in their dough. Without it, there wouldn't be enough bread puff to soak up the delicious juices from the meat as it cooks. The thing is, pasta dough doesn't normally include a leavener. It's not meant to have more air pumped into it via yeast or baking powder. So how does Soma just use his bun dough as a pasta dough?!? I really don't know. Any advice or suggestions would be mightily appreciated.
So, that leaves us with the topic I've yet to address: I don't have time to make bread doughs during the week days. It's true. I don't have the time, and I don't really normally have the energy either. And I mean, I love to cook, and I especially like making bread doughs, so you know it's serious if even I can't find the willpower to activate some yeast and get up to my elbows in flour. But I really, REALLY wanted to make these buns, and yet I needed bread dough to make it happen... Enter the pre-made pizza dough! I found this great recipe while trawling through the internet, which I have adapted below. The author suggested using pre-made pizza dough instead of making your own, as a reasonable substitute for what you'd get in Taiwan. I loved the idea, as most supermarkets around me sell ready-made pizza dough, and eagerly hopped over to mine to get the requisite items. The recipe in the link looks good, but below is the recipe I've adapted to more closely match the recipe from the anime. I added in some ground star anise and stuck with black pepper throughout (which, if you're using freshly ground, is STRONG – fair warning).
All of this resulted in a tasty, easily consumable, snack-size pork bun. And amazingly, the pizza dough worked super well here! And, better yet, I didn't have to spend an hour and a half whipping up basically the same thing from scratch. All of this results in a home recipe version of Soma's dish, perfect for the average kitchen. Obviously, it's going to be hard to replicate his special oven, but a regular old home oven will do since it's going to be hard to get anything else. Now, of course, this dish isn't an EXACT replica. I didn't make the dough from scratch, nor did I procure a special oven – but nonetheless, for the average home cook, this is a GREAT dish to try making on your own! It's super easy, since you're buying the dough, and really hard to mess up.
Watch the video below to get started on making your own black pepper buns!
Ingredients for the Black Pepper Bun:
1 cup chopped green onion
1/2 pound ground pork
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp Chinese five spice
1/4 tsp ground star anise seeds
2 tbsp sugar
1 lb pre-made pizza dough
1 tbsp water
To Make the Black Pepper Bun:
1. Chop green onion and set aside. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Combine pork, soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, pepper, sugar, ground star anise, and Chinese five spice. Mix well until sticky and totally mixed together, about two minutes.
3. Put some flour down on a surface. Pat dough out into a circle, and cut into twelve pieces. One piece at a time, roll out into circles. Stuff with about 1 tbsp meat mixture and a sprinkle of green onions.
4. To close, bring opposite edges together, and keep pinching until all sides are closed and no filling can leak out.
5. When all dough rounds are filled, combine egg and water, and set out sesame seeds in a bowl. One by one, dip the buns in the egg wash, and then in the sesame seeds.
6. As you finish coating in sesame seeds, set aside on the baking sheet. When ready, bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
7. Enjoy hot, but be careful! They are really hot coming out of the oven.