I cooked pork shoulder and stuffed it into Hawaiian-style dough to make a very flavorful pork-filled bun. Follow along to see what I did.
These are somewhat inspired by another type of pork bun (char siu bao), but my recipe is not traditional. My version is pulled and chopped pork shoulder that is slathered in a hoisin-based barbecue sauce and stuffed and baked into a homemade Hawaiian bread bun.
char siu = pork filling
bao = bun
You can make this same recipe into an actual sandwich if you prefer. I did – as you can see in the photo – and it was great. You just need to follow the recipe below and instead of rolling the meat inside the buns, use the dough to bake normal buns (or just use the Hawaiian bun recipe below – or buy your own if you’re lazy) and you’ll be set.
The pulled pork
At its base, the pulled pork is my cheater chopped pork recipe from late last year. It’s a great, easy oven-based pulled pork recipe that you put together with a minimal amount of work. The results are always very satisfying, and you end up with enough meat for quite a few sandwiches.
Pair it with your favorite barbecue sauce or scroll a bit further for the hoisin barbecue sauce recipe I used in these buns.
The hoisin barbecue sauce
This sauce is sweet but at the same time, super savory. It takes about 20 minutes on the stove to thicken, but it’s very well worth the effort.
This sauce is more savory than your traditional barbecue sauce and with the addition of soy sauce and oyster sauce, the savoriness or umami is even more amplified. But the hoisin and tiny bit of ketchup still bring plenty of sweetness to balance things out.
The Hawaiian sweet sandwich buns
Pineapple juice and a bit of extra sugar are what make these buns different from other sandwich buns. If you eat them plain, you can taste hints of the pineapple juice, but it’s not overwhelming. Painting each bun with an egg wash before baking gives the buns their shiny and dark appearance.
You could also add melted butter to the tops after baking if you want them to have a softer crust, but it takes away some of the shininess, so I don’t typically do that with this recipe.
This is a great sandwich bun for a burger or even something as simple as a ham and cheese sandwich. This dough also works well for dinner rolls if you want to shape them into a smaller size. I’d shoot for between 35 and 45 grams for a dinner roll or slider bun.
The recipe above is for making these Hawaiian sweet sandwich buns for stand-alone sandwiches or burgers. The dough is the same as what we use in the stuffed pork recipe below though, so if you want to make stuffed buns, keep scrolling.
Stuffing the buns
Here’s a slideshow of the bun filling process.
One tip for filling and shaping this dough would be to make sure you use a non-floured surface if possible. You want your dough to stick to your counter or wooden cutting board a little bit. This allows the dough to stay in the circle shape when you roll it out and it just helps in general for your dough to be a little tacky and stick to the surface.
The hoisin Hawaiian pork bun recipe
This recipe has a lot of steps and ingredients, but it’s not really that difficult. If you’ve never made dough, it might be a challenge, but I believe in you. You can do it!
A sweet and savory stuffed bun that's packed full of porky goodness.
- 3 to 4 pounds pork shoulder/pork butt
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon plus one teaspoon smoked paprika (not regular paprika)
- 1 tablespoon black pepper
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 3 tablespoons scallions, sliced thin (green parts -optional addition in the bun)
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
- 1⁄2 cup hoisin sauce
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons dry sherry
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon ketchup
- 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
- 1⁄3 cup water
- 1⁄2 teaspoon sesame oil
- 320 grams all-purpose flour (2 3/4 cups)
- 54 grams potato flour (4 1/2 tablespoons)
- 26 grams special dry milk or non-fat dry milk (4 tablespoons)
- 38 grams granulated sugar (3 tablespoons)
- 10 grams salt (2 teaspoons)
- 10 grams instant yeast (1 tablespoon)
- 50 grams room temperature butter (3 1/2 tablespoons)
- 246 grams pineapple juice (1 cup + 1 tablespoon)
Make the pulled pork: pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees F (175 C).
Wipe down and dry your pork shoulder or pork butt. Wash your hands.
In a small bowl add your salt, smoked paprika and black pepper. Mix well. This is your rub.
Cover and rub your pork fully with all your rub. Make sure no parts of the pork are unseasoned.
In a Dutch oven or large oven safe pot (with lid), add your fully seasoned pork.
Pour 1 cup of apple cider vinegar into the Dutch oven or pot, around the pork.
Add a lid or cover to your oven safe pot and add it to the pre-heated oven.
Cook for 3 hours with the cover on the pot. If you don't have a cover, you can cover the pot with aluminum foil.
Once 3 hours are over, remove the cover/lid for the pot and cook for an additional 30 minutes.
Remove pork from the pot (don't discard any liquid left in the pot just yet), place it on a cutting board and allow meat to rest for 45 minutes to 1 hour and then pull meat from the bone and use two forks to separate it.
You might want to chop the pork a bit if your pieces are large. This will give it a good consistency for stuffing inside of buns.
Make the hoisin barbecue sauce: add olive oil to a small sauce pan over medium-high heat. Once the oil is shimmering, add garlic and cook it for 1 minute.
After a minute, add and stir in hoisin sauce, rice vinegar, sherry, soy sauce, ketchup, oyster sauce and water. Stir everything to combine well.
Simmer the sauce for 20 minutes stirring occasionally.
After 20 minutes, the sauce should have thickened up. Add sesame oil, stir well and remove the sauce from the heat.
Allow the sauce to cool and store in the fridge for up to two weeks.
Make the dough: in a large bowl or the bowl of your mixer, weigh out and add your all-purpose flour, salt, potato flour and instant yeast and stir to combine all your dry ingredients making sure there are no clumps.
Weigh the rest of your ingredients and add them to the bowl.
If using a stand mixer, knead for 8 minutes on medium speed. If you are kneading by hand, you will need about 15 minutes of kneading after all the ingredients are incorporated together.
The dough will be a bit sticky.
Place your dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover. Let dough rise in a warm place for 1 to 1.5 hours. The dough should be doubled in size.
Remove dough from bowl to a lightly oiled counter and divide into 8 pieces. I like to weigh my buns at this point to keep them all fairly consistently sized, and I usually get 8 buns that are all between 85 and 90 grams each. Roll each portion of dough into a ball and let rest while you prepare the pork.
Shape and stuff the pork buns:
Add about 1 cup to 1 and 1/2 cups of pulled and chopped pork to a bowl. Spoon 4 to 6 tablespoons of hoisin sauce on top and toss the meat with the sauce. If it isn't sauced enough to your liking, add a little more. Add 3 tablespoons of sliced scallions (if using) to the pork and sauce and stir to combine.
Roll out the 8 dough balls, one at a time until you have a flat round of dough about 5 inches in diameter.
Spoon 2 tablespoons of pork and sauce and green onion into the center of each flattened dough disk.
Fold and pinch the sides of the dough over the top of the meat. Fold up all edges until you have a somewhat tight pouch. Flip the pouch of dough over, placing the pinched seam on the bottom and the smooth side on top.
Once you are finished rolling and stuffing all 8 portions of dough, place each stuffed dough on a parchment-lined sheet pan. Cover with greased plastic wrap or another inverted sheet pan and allow the dough to rest and rise for another 30 to 45 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F (176 C).
Add an egg and one tablespoon of water to a bowl and whisk until it's very combined. Paint this egg wash on top of each bun.
Bake the buns for 20 to 22 minutes or until they are shiny and caramel brown.
Allow the buns to cool for a few minutes before consuming. If you have extra buns, you can store them in the fridge for up to a week. Or in the freezer for up to 5 months. See the notes below for reheating procedures.
If you have leftover buns, the fully cooked, stuffed buns can be refrigerated for up to a week and they can be reheated in a 350-degree F (176 C) oven for 10-15 minutes.
You can also freeze these fully baked buns for up to five months. You can warm them by fully thawing and reheating them in a 350-degree F (176 C) oven for 10 to 15 minutes.
You should have extra pork after forming and baking all of these buns. You can freeze this for up to 5 months. When you're ready to eat it, fully thaw it out and warm it in the microwave, oven or a pan and it'll be just as good as when it was freshly cooked.
If you decide to freeze these, make sure to fully thaw them and then bake in the oven at 350 degrees F for 10 to 15 minutes. If you’re using a toaster oven or a smaller oven, there’s a chance you might get some extra browning on the top during this process. If this starts to happen, you can loosely cover the buns with aluminum foil, and it will stop the tops from burning.
Make these buns
If you like good things, this is a good recipe. There are a lot of components and steps because you must make your own dough, but it’s well worth it in the final pork bun results.
Check back next week when we work some corn flakes into our sandwiches.