3 amazing recipes for Japanese steamed buns (Nikuman) | Try now!
There’s nothing as interesting as the Japanese steamed bun. Many people who tasted these buns usually opt to go for them instead of artisanal bread!
However, not many people get to enjoy this delicacy since they’re somehow intimidated by the process of making them. Also, they don’t own a bamboo steamer.
However, this shouldn’t be your case at all!
In this post, I’ll share a few recipes on how to make a variety of Japanese steamed buns. These recipes are very easy to make, and it won’t take you a lot of time to prepare them.
In addition, you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy freshly made Japanese steamed buns, which are usually very amazing!
One interesting thing about homemade Japanese steamed buns is that they have very great aesthetics and you’ll always get to see what you eat right from the beginning.
More so, they’re visually appealing have a different texture compared to the buns you’ll find elsewhere, like in convenience stores.
In this post we'll cover:
Why make a steamed bun yourself?
You might be wondering why you really need to take your time to make Japanese steamed pork buns at home, especially when you can buy them at the store!
Here are some reasons why you should consider making them at home:
- Get the opportunity to make the buns from scratch – This is everything you need when it comes to making the buns. The process is very addictive and you’ll always enjoy handling fresh ingredients.
- You can use a variety of ingredients – If you don’t like pork or flavored ground meat, you can opt to use different ingredients. This works very well for vegetarians who need something that favors than in their steamed buns. You can make it vegan or vegetarian. You need to note that the steamed buns are just for you, and you can make them just the way you want them to be!
- Simple recipes – You might think that steamed buns are complicated to make. But you’ll realize that it’s very easy and you’ll love them!
- Tastes delicious and fresh – There’s nothing more satisfying than food that you’ve freshly prepared in your kitchen. Steamed buns are one of the dishes that’ll always give you that satisfaction!
- Freeze – You can freeze the leftovers and then reheat them at a later date.
Japanese steamed pork bun recipe
For the dough
- 7.5 ounces all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup lukewarm water
- 1 tsp active dry yeast
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1.5 ounces granulated sugar
- ⅛ tsp salt
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
For the filling
- 1/3 lbs sliced pork shoulder finely chopped
- 1 tbsp ginger minced
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- ⅛ tsp Chinese five spice powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp oyster sauce
- 1 tbsp potato starch
- ⅓ cup napa cabbage finely chopped
- ⅓ cup green onions finely chopped
- 8 parchment paper squares
Preparations – the night before:
- First, you need to prepare your dough. To do that, mix all your ingredients in a stand mixer with a mixing bowl and a dough hook attachment, then mix everything together. Add in your lukewarm water slowly. If you notice that the dough sticks to the bottom of the mixing bowl after you've poured in all the flour, add some more flour slowly, until the dough no longer sticks to the bowl. Continue mixing at low speed (2 speed setting) until your dough is tacky and smooth.
- Once you finish kneading your dough, make it into a round ball, and then put it in a bowl covered with saran or plastic wrap to prevent it from drying. To get the most flavor from your steamed bun, allow your dough to rise overnight while refrigerated,
- As your dough rises, start preparing your filling. You can choose to prepare your steamed buns the same day, but it's advisable that you marinate the filling overnight so you can get more flavor. Mix all the filling ingredients in one bowl and then cover it with a saran or plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight to marinate.
Making the steamed buns:
- To make your steamed buns, remove the refrigerated dough out of your fridge. You'll notice that it's doubled in size.
- Punch down the dough to remove the excess gas. Then roll it out into a long circular tube. Divide it into 8 even pieces.
- Roll each piece to make a ball and then allow it to rest on a baking sheet for around 10 minutes. Cover with a damp towel to prevent the dough from drying out.
- Next, roll every dough ball into a flat circle using a rolling pin. Then scoop a bit of the pork filling into the dough ball; maybe a tablespoon.
- Using one hand, pull one side of your dough upwards, towards the top of your filling. Hold it in place and then pull the remaining sides of the dough upwards so that they can meet at the top of the dough. Make sure that you twist the top to create a seal. You can continue doing this to each side of the dough until you have concealed your filling inside the bun. Repeat this process for the remaining 7 pieces.
- Next, place your buns on a piece of parchment paper square and then allow it to sit for the second phase of fermentation. To prepare for this second fermentation, allow your bamboo steamer to boil and then turn off the stove. Place the buns in the residual heat by using a steam basket and then covering it with a lid. Cover the lid with a towel to prevent excess condensation from dripping into the buns. Allow it to rest for around 10 to 15 minutes until the size increases slightly to complete the second fermentation.
- After the second fermentation, boil your water and then steam the buns for 15 minutes.
- Remove the steamed pork buns from the steamer and enjoy!
Just One Cookbook also has this amazing video on how to make steamed buns:
Vegetable steamed buns
- Active dry yeast – ½ tbsp (rounded)
- Warm water – ¾ cups (105 – 110 F)
- Bread flour – 2 cups (you can also use all-purpose flour)
- Granulated sugar – 3 tbsp
- Dry milk powder – 1 ½ tbsp
- Salt – ½ tbsp
- Baking powder – ¼ tsp (rounded)
- Baking soda – ¼ tsp
- Vegetable shortening – 2 tbsp
- First, you need to mix the yeast with warm water so that you can activate it. Then, add a pinch of sugar in order to give the yeast something to feed on. Wait for around 5 minutes or until the yeast is foamy for you to use it.
- Using a stand mixer bowl with a dough hook, mix the bread flour, dry milk powder, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
- Next, add the yeast slowly, as well as the water mixture, and then mix them at a slow speed. Once you add all the wet ingredients, add in the vegetable shortening. Continue kneading your dough until it’s smooth and soft. It should also feel tacky when you touch it and bounce back whenever you poke it gently. You might be forced to hand knead the dough towards the end so that you can achieve the texture you desire.
- Use some vegetable oil to lightly grease your bowl, as well as the dough to prevent it from becoming dry. Now, wrap your bowl with plastic wrap, and then allow the dough to rise in a warm area for around 1 hour or until it doubles in volume.
- Once the dough’s doubled in size, punch it down, and then move it onto a clean working surface. Use a knife or a bench scraper to divide your dough into half, then continue dividing each portion until it weighs around 25 grams (or is the size of a golf ball). It’s recommended that you use a food scale at this stage.
- Next, put the little dough balls on a baking sheet and make sure that it’s lined with parchment or Silpat paper, and then cover them using plastic wrap. Let them rest and rise in a warm area for around 30 minutes.
- As you wait for the dough balls to rest, prepare some parchment papers (squares) in order to allow your dough to come out very easily once you’ve steamed it.
- After 30 minutes, flatten each dough ball using a rolling pin. Then roll them out until you achieve a long oval shape. Fold each oval in half to create a steamed bun shape, almost resembling a taco shell. Cover them again using plastic wrap and let them rest for around 30 to 45 minutes. You’ll notice that they’ll also rise a little bit.
- You can now set up your bamboo steamer. When the dough has finished rising/resting, place the buns in the steamer, and then steam for around 10 minutes. Remove from the steamer and then serve them immediately with the filling of your choice.
Japanese steamed curry buns (kareeman)
Also known as kareeman, Japanese steamed curry buns are filled with a vegetable mixture and curry-flavored ground meat.
These buns resemble steamed pork buns, but for the steamed curry buns, you can use any type of ground meat. In this recipe, I’ll use pork, but you can also make the recipe vegetarian.
For the pastry
- Self-rising flour – 1 cup
- Bread flour – ½ cup (you can opt to use self-rising flour only)
- Curry powder – 1 teaspoon
- Salt – 1 pinch
- Dry yeast – 1-2 teaspoons
- Sugar – 2 tablespoons
- Warm water – ½ cup
- Canola oil – 1 tablespoon
For the filling:
- Ground pork – 250 g
- Onion – 1 (finely chopped)
- Garlic – 1 clove (finely chopped)
- Potato – 1 (cut into 7 to 8 mm pieces)
- Oil – 1 teaspoon
- Curry powder – 2-3 teaspoons
- Soy sauce – 1 teaspoon
- Fish sauce (or soy sauce) – 1 teaspoon
- Sugar – ¼ teaspoon
- Pepper and salt – as needed
- In a small bowl, mix the warm water, sugar, and dry yeast. Mix gently and then set aside.
- Put the self-rising flour, curry powder, and salt in a large bowl, and then mix well. Create a well at the center of the mixture and then pour in the oil and yeast mixture. Mix it well to make a soft dough. Once you get the perfect mixture, allow it to sit for a while as you prepare your filling.
- Meanwhile, heat oil in a frying pan over medium-low heat, and then add the ground pork, onion, carrot, potato, and garlic. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of water to make the ingredients cook a bit faster. Add your seasonings, and then stir-fry until the veggies are soft. Divide the mixture into 8 portions.
- Next, divide your dough into 8 portions, and then roll out each portion into a flat circle using a rolling pin. Put one portion of the filling mixture at the center of the dough and then draw up its edges to create a bun.
- From the dough, make 8 buns, and then place each bun on a piece of parchment paper.
- Put water into a bamboo steamer and then bring it to a boil over high heat. Place your buns into the steamer, cover the lid, and then allow them to cook for around 10 minutes. Once done, remove the buns from the steamer, and serve while hot.
Enjoy eating Japanese steamed buns with these recipes
Now that you have 3 recipes for Japanese steamed buns, you’ll have great fun making these culinary creations. And when you get the hang of it, they’re great for serving your guests too!
More Japanese cooking: this is the difference between Sushi and Sashimi
Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.