The Seasoned Traveler

Recipes and remedies using herbs, spices, and other natural ingredients from the world's pantry

Bourbon & Hoisin Pork Buns with Pickled Onions


PorkBunsTST2I’ve got two words for you today: PORK BUNS. I think you need these. I know we did, and they were so worth the wait and the effort.


I saw a version of the famous Momofuku’s pork buns on Food52 a couple months ago and swooned. The only problem was that the recipe for the steamed buns calls for milk powder and bread flour, neither of which I have, as well as pork belly, which I’ve never cooked before. When I saw Red Shallot Kitchen’s version uses much more accessible ingredients (to me), I couldn’t wait any longer. I prepped my new handy little steamer basket for its debut, and the hubby fired up the grill. Folks, these little buns even exceeded my expectations for pillowy softness, the perfect pouch for succulent marinated and barbecued pork. A touch of pickled onions and slathering of hoisin put them over the top. Let me just say I think they are the most wonderful thing we’ve ever cooked, and the hubby agrees.


Pork Buns, you guys. PORK BUNS! Go ahead, I think you need them in your life too. Time for me to share them with the folks at Fiesta Friday. Enjoy!


Bourbon & Hoisin Pork Buns with Pickled Onions

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

Adapted from Red Shallot Kitchen’s recipe and inspired by the David Chang/Momofuku version here.

For the pork:

  • 1 pork tenderloin
  • 1/4 cup bourbon (I used Maker’s Mark)
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1-inch piece of ginger, grated on a microplane
  • 1 clove garlic, sliced thin
  • 2 Tbs. dark brown sugar
  • 2 Tbs. canola oil

For the pickled onion:

  • 1 red onion, sliced super thin
  • 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp. granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 5 black peppercorns

For the buns:

  • 2 teaspoon active-dry yeast
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 – 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour


  • Hoisin sauce
  • Sriracha or sambal oelek sauce (optional)
  • Radicchio, washed and sliced thin
  • Sprouts


  1. Mix the ingredients for the marinade (bourbon through canola oil) in a bowl until the sugar has dissolved. Place the tenderloin and the marinade together in a sealable bag and let marinate overnight or during the rest of the prep time.
  2. Place the thinly sliced onions in a colander and pour a kettle of boiling water over them to blanch them. Dissolve the salt and sugar in the vinegar in a bowl, then add the blanched onion and peppercorns, cover and let sit for 30 minutes, then refrigerate.
  3. Warm milk to about 110 degrees F and add to yeast and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Stir together to combine and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes until foamy. Add flour, baking powder, salt, and oil into the bowl. Use your hands to knead the dough until all of the ingredients are well incorporated. Continue kneading until the dough is smooth and elastic. Form the dough into a ball, transfer to an oiled bowl, and turn to coat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled, 1-2 hours.
  4. Punch down the dough and transfer to a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough into a long log, then cut into 30 equal sections. Roll each of them into a ball and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover the baking sheet with plastic or a clean towel and let rise for another 20 minutes.
  5. Cut 30 4-inch parchment squares. Take one ball and place it on a floured surface. Take a rolling pin and roll the ball into a long oval. Brush the surface with oil and fold the oval in half, placing a chopstick across the middle to help it fold over. Place it on a parchment square. Repeat the process with the remaining dough. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for about 30 minutes more.
  6. Get the grill fired up and, when ready, cook the tenderloin, turning every 5 minutes or so, for about 20 minutes, or until internal temp reads at least 145 F. Let rest before slicing.
  7. Set up a bamboo steamer basket on top of a large pot of boiling water, at a level just below the steamer base. Working in batches, place buns in the steamer (still with parchment squares on), and be careful not to overcrowd. Steam the buns for about 7 minutes, until the buns are cooked through to the center. Cool down a little bit before filling and serving. If you’re not planing to use them immediately, store in a large plastic bag and keep in freezer, then re-steam them before using.
  8. Assemble the pork buns by first slathering the insides with hoisin sauce and optional hot pepper sauce, then slices of pork, pickled onions, radicchio and sprouts if desired.

Author: Laura Haugen

Writer, Traveler, Foodie

35 thoughts on “Bourbon & Hoisin Pork Buns with Pickled Onions

  1. Lovely. Bet they’re moreish!

  2. Oh, I think you would love pork belly. It is incredibly tender and delicious, but requires slow cooking to extract all the fat. I’ve had versions of these steamed buns in one of our local Chinese restaurants and had always wondered how they made them – so simple with your instructions. I must have a go.

  3. Loved the ingredients inside these buns!

  4. Yes please, I love pork buns, have never made them myself though. Looks pretty easy and straightforward, must try.

  5. I’ve got two words for you: You’re right! (I do need these)! Great recipe, thank you!!!

  6. OMG! I need to make this recipe right now! Yum, yum! Printing this off as we speak! πŸ˜€

  7. A huge thank you for posting this recipe, Laura! I’ve been wanting to make pork buns forever, but kept getting put off by the ingredients, too, especially the bun ingredients (never used milk powder). I do love pork belly, though; so succulent and dripping with flavor. The tenderloin looks great for these though, and I am excited to try these!

  8. they look delicious!

  9. Pingback: Fiesta Friday #22 | The Novice Gardener

  10. I have two words for you… YEAH BABY!! great looking dish that… it’s bookmarked..

  11. Hi Laura, lovely to see you at the party, and thank your for bringing these lovely buns, I can already see that they are a hit ☺️☺️

  12. These look like such a treat. And like others, I’ve always wondered how hard they would be to make. Thanks for sharing them with us today.

  13. I am speechless, Laura-san! These pork buns are the prettiest pork buns I have ever seen. You are one classy lady! xx

  14. I love the look of this, and am sure I’ll love the taste!

  15. Oh my Laura!!!! Yes, I need these in my life too!!! You are so right!!! πŸ˜‰ I simply love pork buns, I ate them for the first time at a restaurant here in Miami and am super in love with the consistency, taste, etc. of the buns. So happy to see this recipe that you shared, I will absolutely give it a try! Although looks a bit challenging to me – so really admire your result, looks fabulous and beautiful photos as always! hugs

  16. Pork buns!! Wheeee! These look fabulous, Laura! You should try cooking with pork belly. It is my all-time favorite cut of meat. But that’s only because I’m such a glutton for pork fat. Teehee.

  17. Wowww love the colours in the buns and a big props to you for making the buns from scratch too! Beautiful post πŸ™‚

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