Cook Time 1 hour

Servings 10


400g plain flour, plus extra for dusting

7g active dried yeast

1 tbsp caster sugar

1 tsp fine salt

1 tbsp toasted sesame oil

hot Japanese or English mustard to serve optional

Nikuman filling

3 dried shiitake mushrooms

250ml (1 cup) boiling water

4 white cabbage leaves (about 150 g total)

500g pork mince, not too lean

2 spring onions, finely chopped

1 tbsp caster sugar

2 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp oyster sauce

½ tsp Chinese five spice

2 tsp mirin

3cm piece of ginger, peeled and finely grated

4 garlic cloves, finely grated

1½ tbsp cornflour

1 tbsp toasted sesame oil

Salt & pepper


To make the nikuman filling, begin by soaking the shiitake mushrooms in the boiling water. Allow to soak for about 30 minutes, then drain, reserving the water.

Meanwhile, blanch the cabbage leaves in a saucepan of boiling water for 3-4 minutes, then drain and allow to cool!

Finely chop the shiitake mushrooms and cabbage leaves, then transfer to a bowl and add the remaining nikuman ingredients, mixing really well with your hands. Cover and set aside in the fridge.

Place the flour, yeast, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Pour in the sesame oil, followed by 200-220 ml of the reserved mushroom soaking liquid and mix until a shaggy dough forms. Dust your work surface with flour, then turn the dough out and knead for 5 minutes or until smooth. 

Transfer the dough to a bowl lightly greased with sesame oil, then cover and allow to rise in a warm place for about 1 hour, until doubled in size.

Knock back the dough, then divide it into 10 pieces, each weighing about 65g (dust in a little flour to stop the dough sticking, if necessary). Roll each piece of dough into a ball, then roll each ball into a circle, about 13 cm in diameter, fill each circle with about 60g of the nikuman filling.

Working with one piece of dough at a time, create the buns by lifting the dough edges towards the centre over the filling, then pinching and twisting to enclose. Place each bun on a square of baking paper, large enough to cover the entire base of the bun.

Bring a saucepan or wok of water to the boil, then place a steamer on top of the pan or wok and turn off the heat. Place the buns in the base of the steamer. Wrap the lid of the steamer in a clean tea towel to stop any condensation dripping back onto the buns. Allow the buns to sit in the steamer for 15 minutes for a final prove. Turn the heat on again, bring the water back to a simmer and cook the buns for 15 minutes. Serve with hot Japanese or English mustard, if desired.

Julia Busuttil Nishimura

Cook and author of Ostro and A Year of Simple Family Food


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