As a child, getting hold of a savoury Asian bun in the suburbs of London was like trying to find wi-fi in the Sahara, so my brother and mum resorted to some DIY.
Unfortunately, the result wasn’t a great success and the recipe wasn’t repeated. Buns were saved for when we went to Chinatown as a special treat and could chow down on a basketful.
It was only years later, when I came back to London and discovered a plethora of food trucks, bun-only restaurants and even buns on gastropub menus, that I decided it was time to have another bash at making some at home. I can assure you you won’t be needing a trip to London after you’ve made these.
Ingredients – Serves 4
For the salmon
2tbsp light soy sauce or tamari
2tbsp mirin (Japanese rice wine)
2tbsp runny honey
1 red chilli, cut into rounds
2 salmon fillets, about 150g (5½oz) each
For the bun dough
160g (5¾oz) plain flour, plus extra for dusting
1tbsp dried skimmed milk powder
1½tbsp caster sugar
1 scant tsp fast-action yeast
1tsp baking powder
A pinch of sea salt
90ml (3¼fl oz) warm water
1tbsp vegetable oil, plus extra to grease
A handful of fresh coriander leaves
1 lime, quartered
1 small cucumber, cut into thin rounds
4 spring onions, sliced thinly at an angle
Whisk together the soy, mirin, honey and chilli in a shallow baking dish, then add the salmon fillets, turning them to coat. Cover and place in the fridge. Put the dry ingredients for the bun dough into a large bowl.
Mix together, then make a well in the centre and add the wet ingredients. Use a spoon to bring together, then turn out and knead for 2-3 minutes, or until you have a smooth dough. Place in a bowl greased with vegetable oil and cover with a tea towel or clingfilm. Leave to rise for 45 minutes, or until nearly doubled in size.
Cut out 8 pieces of baking paper about 10cm x 10cm (4in x 4in). Dust the work surface and your hands with flour, roll the dough into a fat sausage, cut into 8 equal parts and roll into balls.
Dust your work surface again, flatten the balls and roll out with a rolling pin into 15cm x 7cm (6in x 2¾in) oval shapes about 3mm (¹/8in) thick. Brush each one lightly with oil and fold in half. Place each on a square of baking paper and leave for 30 minutes to rise.
Preheat the oven to 220°C/fan 200°C/gas 7 and cook the salmon in the baking dish for 20 minutes, spooning the marinade over the fish after 10 minutes. Set up a steamer and place the bun dough on the baking paper directly into it.
Do this in batches if you don’t have lots of space for them all, as they will expand as they cook. Steam for 5-8 minutes, or until fluffy, pale and firm to the touch.
Meanwhile, place the coriander, lime, cucumber and spring onions in separate bowls. When the salmon is cooked, pour any remaining marinade into a small jug. Serve the buns with the teriyaki salmon, bowls of garnishes and the sauce on the side for self-assembly.