Heirloom: Sam Tsui’s Aunt Cindy’s Delectable Pork Buns


My Aunt Cindy (Tsui Chauwan) was both an opera singer and a fantastic cook. She played me the first piece of music I ever heard (Puccini’s “Madame Butterfly,” when I stayed with her just after being born, or so I’m told!) Born in Hong Kong like my dad, she brought a bunch of delicious Cantonese recipes with her, including this recipe for barbecue pork buns that my husband Casey and I have made often (much to the delight of our friends!). I miss my aunt a lot, and it’s really special to be able to connect to her and her memory by making her recipes—I hope you all can, too!

This pork bun recipe is just one of many that were collected by Tsui’s Aunt Cindy, pictured here. (Photo courtesy of Sam Tsui.)


For roast pork:
3/4 lb fresh pork tenderloin
2 tsps dark soy sauce
1 tsp light soy sauce
2 tbsps hoisin sauce
1 tbsp honey
3 tsps sesame oil
1 tsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp white pepper
1 tbsp hoisin sauce (for glaze)
2 tbsps honey (for glaze)

To add to pork for bun filling:
1 tbsp corn oil
2 tbsps onion, chopped
3 tbsps green onion, chopped
1/2 cup hot water
1 tsp sesame oil
1/4 tsp white pepper
2 tbsps oyster sauce
1 tbsps dark soy sauce
1/4 tsp sugar
Cornstarch mixture (1 tbsp cornstarch & 1 1/4 tbsps cold water)

For buns:
3 cups self-rising flour
2 tbsps sugar
1 cup cold milk
1 tbsp vegetable oil
Wax paper


For roast pork:
1. Put all seasonings (except honey and hoisin sauce for glaze) and pork tenderloin in a plastic bag. Zip plastic bag closed. Leave the pork in the refrigerator overnight.
2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
3. Line broiler pan with aluminum foil for easy cleaning.
4. Roast pork on broiler pan at 375 degrees, uncovered, for 25 minutes.
5. Glaze the pork loin on all sides with 1 tbsp hoisin sauce.
6. Roast for 3 minutes and then turn the pork. Roast the other side for 3 minutes.
7. Remove pork from oven. Switch the oven setting from 375 degrees to Broil.
8. Combine 1 tbsp hoisin sauce and 2 tbsps honey. Glaze the pork on all sides.
9. Return glazed pork to oven and broil for 2 minutes. Turn the pork and broil the other side for an additional 2 minutes. Pay close attention during the last few minutes of broiling. To prevent burning, do not leave pork unattended.
10. Take pork out of the oven. Let rest for 5 minutes.

(Sam’s note: The pork is delicious at this stage as an appetizer, entree or in fried rice—read on to use it in pork buns!)

For buns:
11. Chop roasted pork into 1/2-inch cubes.
12. Heat corn oil in pan and sauté chopped pork, onion and green onion.
13. Add hot water to pan. Bring water to a bubbling boil.
14. Add sesame oil, white pepper, oyster sauce, dark soy sauce and sugar to pan.
15. Add dissolved cornstarch mixture to pan. Stir to combine.
16. Turn off heat when filling has thickened.
17. Allow filling to cool while you prepare dough for the buns.
18. Combine flour, sugar and milk in a large bowl.
19. Integrate vegetable oil.
20. Place dough on floured board/stone and knead for 8 minutes.
21. Let dough rest for 15 minutes.
22. Divide dough into 12 equal pieces.
23. Using the palms of your hands, form 12 ball-shaped pieces of dough.
24. Flatten the ball-shaped pieces and use a rolling pin to form round wrappers about 2 inches in diameter.
25. Put a generous tablespoonful of filling in the center of each wrapper.
26. Collect edges of wrapper and pinch the top closed.
27. Place each stuffed bun (pinched top up) on a 2 1/2-by-2 1/2-inch piece of wax paper.
28. Let buns rest for 5 minutes.
29. Bring water to a boil in your steamer.
30. Put all 12 buns in the steamer for 15 minutes (or do in batches if your steamer is smaller!)
31. Best served hot!

Character Media tested out the recipes in-house. Make sure you catch the videos and learn how to make these delicious dishes!