Tonight's Marshallese cooking adventure is dedicated to Wendy McKenzie and her students at Oxbow High School in Vermont. Several months ago, Wendy contacted me via my favorite niece, Evie (okay, she's my only niece, but I love her more than chocolate or rum or
Little is known about the Micronesians who first settled the islands traveling by canoe with only traditional stick charts to navigate the complex tides. Using the midribs of coconut fronds which were then tied together to represent prevailing ocean surface wave crests, as well as chart directions, early settlers criss crossed the islands and eventually found home.
Siu Pao -Pork Buns - (Recipe adapted from Mrs. Wencheslao of Yap and Toto, Guam)
3/4 cup sugar
6 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
3 packets dry yeast, dissolved in 1 cup warm water
1/2 -1 medium onion, chopped fine
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot, peeled and cubed
2 lbs. pork, cubed small (you can use beef, chicken or shrimp if you prefer)
3 tsp. sugar
4 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. black pepper
salt or extra soy sauce to taste
3 hard-boiled eggs, cut into eighths
A little flour to thicken sauce if needed
In a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine all the ingredients and knead for 10 minutes until smooth. Gather into a ball, coat with a little oil and let rise in a bowl covered with a clean towel for an hour.
Slice the eggs. Saute the garlic, onion and carrot. Add pork, stir, and simmer covered for 15 minutes. (Don't let the pork get dried out - add a little water if needed). Add soy sauce, sugar, and pepper. Thicken sauce with a little sprinkling of flour at the end.
After the dough has risen, break off 4 pieces at a time, about the size of a golf ball. Roll each piece into a ball, then pat it gently using the palm of your hand to form a circle. On a lightly floured board, roll each piece out with a rolling pin to about 3-4-inch pancakes. Put filling and a piece of egg in the center of the pancake. Stretch the edges around the filling and seal them together so they look like little purses. Place on a square of waxed paper, seam side down. Spray a steamer with a little cooking spray to avoid sticking. Steam in a steamer (a bamboo steamer works well) for 14-20 minutes.
* to save time, you can use frozen dough instead. You can also use frozen carrots or peas in place of fresh carrots.
Final Assessment: These were awesome. The dough was sweet, and the filling had a nice sweet/savory flavor to it that made these rolls tasty as could be. Dipped in a little light soy sauce, they were dinner and disappeared as fast as I could steam them. This is the type of thing that you get better at as you go along, since technique is important...but have fun, and don't worry if they don't look perfect the fist batch out!