Saturday, August 28, 2010

Pan-fried pork buns (原上海生煎包)

生煎包 crust

It seems incredulous that I've never ever written about 生煎包 (sheng jian bao) before. While it seems that every combination of pork wrapped in carbs has been played out, I assure you this is not the case. This stuff is the shit dreams are made of. Some kids dream about clouds of cotton candy and lollipop trees... well, I dream of pork buns. Anyway... in what's the cross between gyoza pot stickers and steamed pork buns, you end up with a piece of culinary genius. A juicy ball of fatty minced pork, dotted with spring scallions, is stuffed inside a moderately thick layer of dough, which ultimately gets stuffed in a what's basically a giant wok filled with a thin layer of oil and water. After covering and waiting for the water to ultimately boil off, you're left with a pan filled with beautiful dumpling like buns.

生煎包 innards

Holy crap, you're lying so hard if you claim you don't want a part of that perfection right now. Fact you might not know: my hand was burning for that picture. It was straight from a new batch, and the oil was spilling out. The things I do for this blog... sigh. What can I say about this that the picture hasn't already explained? It has the juice content of a decent soup dumpling, the top layer skin isn't unlike a perfectly fluffy mantou glazed in pork oil, and the bottom is pan-fried to a perfect goldenrod, like that found on pot stickers. It's like the best combination of dough and pork I can think of.

原上海生煎包 storefront

These came from a shop called 原上海生煎包 (Yuan Shanghai Pan-fried Buns) located in 士林夜市 (Shilin Night Market). Their reputation for making kick ass pork buns is the stuff of legends (even non-tourist Asians are willing to line up for it!). Think about it, of all the places in Taipei that make these kinds of fried pork buns, these must be pretty remarkable if everyone likes them. The best part though, I saved for last. Get this, each of these sensual pockets of pork only costs 10 NT (30 cents). Let's think about this for a second. For any given meal in NYC, it's not unusual for someone to spend $15 minimum. This is the equivalent of 500 NT. You could buy 50 fried pork buns for that! You know how many people you could feed with 50 pork buns? I'm not sure either, but it's definitely greater than one. Seriously... why it's taken me so long to write about this stuff, I don't even know.


gtrine said...

i grew up with these in manila!!!! god, i miss these buns. This was one of my favorite snacks!

it's been so hard to explain to my husband - who is also filipino but grew up in the US - what pan fried siopao is. Thanks for this post!!!!

Nicholas said...

YEP! I just looked up what those were, and they're indeed the same exact thing (although now I feel jipped, they look bigger... hrm). Although at some point between 10-15 of these, it stops becoming a 'snack,' and becomes a session of gluttony haha.

Anonymous said...

I always feel like an environmental jackass eating out of those thin plastic bags. And they get so hot!

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