Steamed Pork Buns

pic courtesy of deposit photos

This recipe is a must for when you are camping in the colder months. Not only will these warm your soul, but you’ll be sure to make new friends with little beauties around the campfire.

Don’t be put off by the amount of prep work to get these ready. The filling is easily prepared prior to your adventure and, once made up, travels well – refrigerated properly, of course. All you’re left to do is place your bamboo steamer into your cooking pot, pour some water into the base, and in 15 to 20 minutes you’ll be cracking open the wonderfully soft and fluffy sweet bread filled with the aromas of the sticky pork filling.

Pass the beer…stat.

What you need…

Equipment

  • A Dutch oven (camp oven)
  • Bamboo steamer – that fits in the oven
  • You can also place the steamer over a wok using the burner on your barbeque or gas stove
For the dough
  • 2.5 tsp dried yeast
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 2.5 cups plain flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
For the pork filling
  • 300g finely diced pork
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp Shaoxing wine
  • 2 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tsp cornflour
  • 2 tbsp tomato sauce

What to do with it

The Filling
  • Place the sauces, wine, and sugar In a saucepan/camp oven/frypan – depending on whether you’re making at home or at your destination –  and mix well. Bring it to a simmer over a medium heat source for approximately 5 minutes until the sugar has dissolved and the sauce has slightly thickened.
  • Whisk the cornflour with about a tbsp of water. Once combined, add this to the sauce and stir for a further few mins until the sauce is thick and smooth.
  • Remove it from the heat, add the sesame oil and chopped pork, and you’re done.
  • Cover the mixture and set aside in the fridge (or esky) until required.
The Dough

Okay, this can be a little bit tricky, but it’s definitely worth the time and effort.

  • Mix together the yeast with 3/4  cup of warm (not hot) water to kick start the activation process.
  • Add 2 tsp of the caster sugar, mix well and place it to the side in a warm place for 10-15 mins. It should start to show signs of bubbling or foaming.
  • Mix the remaining caster sugar, baking powder, and salt into a bowl and stir until it is all well combined. Pour into the yeast mixture and add the oil. Continue to mix until a stiff dough is formed. You might need to add a little more warm water if the dough becomes too stiff.
  • Continue to mix until the dough is smooth and slightly tacky. Take the dough out and lightly knead before covering in plastic and placing it in a warm spot to rest for an hour or so.
  • Once rested, take the dough and knead it lightly on a slightly floured bench.
  • Roll the dough into a thick log – approximately 5 cm thick – and cut into about 15 equal pieces of dough.

Putting it all together

  • Take a piece of the prepared dough and roll it out until you have about a 10cm diameter circle.
  • Place the dough into your opened hand and spoon into the centre about a tbsp of the filling.
  • Fold the dough over the filling and bring it together at the top. Twist the top to seal. Don’t worry about how pretty (or otherwise) it looks.
  • Place the bun on a piece of baking paper and cut to be slightly larger than the bun. Cut enough paper for all your remaining buns and repeat.
  • Place all buns (including the baking paper) into a bamboo steamer spacing them about 5cms apart, and cover with the steamer lid.
  • Place the bamboo steamer into your camp oven/pot/wok, add water – to just below the first layer of buns – and steam over a high heat source for 15 to 20 minutes. Keep an eye on your water level so it does not completely evaporate.

Herby Cheese Dip

One of the highlights of any stay in the great outdoors – regardless of whether you’re in a van, a tent, or a cabin somewhere – is what us Clancys call cocktail hour. It’s that hour (or so) in the late afternoon – maybe as the sun is setting, maybe before you’re thinking about dinner, maybe while you’re thinking about dinner – when the beer comes out and the wine is opened. You sit around and have a drink, something to eat, and wonder what everyone else who isn’t as lucky as you to be where you are is doing.

Even though there are no cocktails as such, and even though it can stretch for much longer than an hour, we call it the cocktail hour.

This cheesy dip is a good one for cocktail hour. It doesn’t need a blender or any fancy equipment – just a bowl and a spoon – and can be whisked together quickly. It is, however, best if you let the flavours develop a tad.

We first tried it when we were road-tripping through the countryside in France earlier this year, although it’s got a far posher French name than herby cheese dip. Over there they serve it on boiled potatoes as a starter course with some salad, but we like it on toasted baguette.

What you need

  • 250g cottage cheese. Choose the full-fat version.
  • 50ml creme fraiche – that’s about 1/4 of the tub. Use the rest in a mushroom sauce for your steaks…yum.  You can also use non-sweetened greek style yoghurt or sour cream if you like.
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 medium shallot, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp chives, finely sliced
  • 2 tbsp continental parsley, finely chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

What you do with it

  • Place the cottage cheese and creme fraiche in a bowl and mix together.
  • Whisk in the olive oil, vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper
  • Stir through the shallot, chives and parsley.
  • Cover with cling film and pop it in the fridge for an hour

Savoury Cake

I first tried this savoury cake when on a road trip in France during the European spring. It was served to us as with drinks before a dinner consisting of platters of meat and salads served outside under the stars. Not only was this cake perfect with both bubbles and beer, it was part of a night we’ll remember for a long time.

Aside from tasting great, this cake is a perfect way to use up leftovers – bacon from breakfast (as if there’s ever any bacon leftover from breakfast), bits and pieces of cheese, herbs, olives and other things from when you had dips, chips and nibbly bits last night, that cheek of capsicum that was left after you finished making the chilli. That sort of thing. In fact, it’s the sort of cake best left until your last night in camp – and then you can have it sliced with butter the next morning as well.

The recipe is below, but you really can put anything in it. Just remember, though, if you’re using zucchini to squeeze out the liquid in a cloth first.

We cooked it in on a trivet in the camp oven on the Oz Pig. You could, however, also cook it over coals. Remember though, for baking you need coals on the top and the bottom – just like in an oven.

What you need

  • About a cup of plain flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 150g unsweetened plain or Greek-style yoghurt – that’s most of a small tub
  • 3 eggs
  • Whatever vegetables you have to hand – chopped peppers, halved (or quartered) cherry tomatoes, a small handful of chopped (and stoned) olives, chopped fresh herbs.
  • Whatever cheeses you have to hand – a handful of grated cheddar, chopped blue or goats cheese.
  • Fried diced bacon, chorizo…if you have it. Otherwise, don’t bother with the meat.

What you do with it

Preheat the camp oven and generously grease a loaf tin. If you have them, sprinkle poppy seeds in – if you don’t, don’t bother.

If you’re using bacon and onion, fry these off first and set aside

Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl and make a well in the centre for the wet ingredients.

Drop in the eggs, yoghurt, oil and some salt and pepper and whisk to blend – but don’t overmix. If you want, whisk the wet ingredients together in a separate bowl before stirring into the flour. Your call, but I can’t be faffed dirtying another bowl.

Gently mix in your vegetables, herbs, cheeses, bacon…whatever… and put it into your prepared loaf tin. I like to sprinkle extra cheese over the top.

Place it into your camp oven on a trivet – so raised from the bottom – and bake for around 35 mins – until well risen, golden and firm to the touch. Depending on the types of veg and quantity of cheese you’ve used, you might need to pop it in for an extra 5 minutes or so.

Let it cool in its tin on a rack and then turn out onto a board to serve. It’s best cut with a bread knife and served in small slices. Eat with whatever it is that you’re drinking.