Thursday, April 25, 2013

Hawaiian Manapua

A few weeks ago, I decided to try my hand at something totally new to me. Our neighbor Dennis was about to have a birthday and as a surprise, I decided to try and make a dish from his native Hawaii. I remembered him bringing back some delicious lightly sweet rolls that were stuffed with a delicious sweet and savory barbecue pork filling. After a little research, I realized that these Hawaiian delights are called Manapua. I am proud to say that my first attempt at making them was a success and was greatly appreciated by both our neighbor and our other friends who got to try them.

Hawaiian Manapua
Bun Ingredients
1 package dry yeast 
3 tablespoons lukewarm water 
2 cups warm water 
1-1/2 tablespoons cooking oil or shortening 
1/4 cup sugar 
3/4 teaspoon salt 
6 cups sifted flour 
1/2 tablespoon sesame oil 

Filling Ingredients
1 cup pineapple juice
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pound char siu, diced

BUNS: Sprinkle yeast over 3 tablespoons water and allow to stand until yeast begins to bubble. Heat water, add oil or shortening, sugar and salt, stirring until melted or dissolved. Cool. Add yeast mixture. Place flour in a large mixing bowl or a heavy-duty mixer and add most of the liquid. Begin kneading. Add remaining liquid to make a very heavy dough. Continue kneading or mixing until you have a smooth ball that springs back to the touch of a finger. Remove dough from bowl and rinse out bowl. Pour sesame oil into bowl, return dough and turn it around until covered with a thin layer of the oil. Cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise until double in bulk -- about an hour in a warm room. Placing the dough in the refrigerator and allowing it to rise there, 3-6 hours, develops the flavor. Proceed with the filling or gently deflate the dough and allow it to rise for a second time, which will further enhance the flavor. 

FILLING: In a pot, combine pineapple juice, cornstarch and salt until dissolved. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add char siu.

ASSEMBLY: Heat a steamer with plenty of water. Cut 12 (3-inch) squares of waxed paper and coat 1 side with 1/2 second coat of nonstick cooking spray. Punch down dough and divide into 12 pieces. Roll each into a ball. Flatten into a circle about 6 inches in diameter. Make the dough as thin as you can and try to keep the edges thinner than the center. Place the circle of dough in the palm of your hand. Spoon in a couple of tablespoons of filling, cupping the dough around it. Then, with the thumb and finger of the other hand, pinch the edges of the dough as if you were making a fluted edging on a pie crust. Pinch the folds together, twisting them as you do so. Local manapua are usually served fold-side down, and Vietnamese manapua with the twirl of dough on top. Place the completed manapua on a square of greased waxed paper. Allow to plump up into a globe with a taut exterior. Place in steamer on their squares of paper about 1 to 2 inches apart. Cover and steam vigorously for 15 minutes. If using a metal steamer, place a folded tea towel across top of steamer, holding it in position with the lid. This will prevent steam from dropping onto manapua. If using a bamboo steamer, this is not necessary. Remove steamer from heat, let stand 5 minutes, then open. Serve hot. Makes 12 buns. 

NOTE: Tradionally Manapua are steamed, but they can also be baked. Brush the tops of the buns with a little canola oil and bake 20 to 25 minutes at 350 degrees.

Char Siu Recipe

4 pounds pork butt, cut into pieces
2 tablespoons Hawaiian sea salt
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon whiskey
1/2 teaspoon Chinese 5-spice powder 

Rub pork with Hawaiian salt and refrigerate 1 hour. Combine marinade ingredients. Soak pork in marinade in refrigerator 24 hours. Place meat on a rack over 1/4 inch of water in a shallow roasting pan. Roast 1-1/2 hours at 300 degrees. You can also roast overnight in a crock pot on low heat.

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