In addition to baking bread, store I also smoke brisket. Having acquired the taste of bbq from our time in Austin, apoplexy California brisket is simply not up to par. The meat is smoked, prosthesis but it’s missing the unctuousness of Texas brisket. So to get a fix, I have been smoking brisket for the few years. Doesn’t compare to Austin, but still worth the effort.
Another passion of mine is dim sum. Well, passion might be too generous a term as I don’t make any dim sum. Instead, I am a very eager and happy consumer. Growing up, I always looked forward to weekend dim sum – even though the best restaurants were at least 45 minutes away and at minimum a 45 minute wait.
Now that I’ve been baking, I can combine these two (or three) interests and add to the fusion cooking cannon – the smoked brisket baked bao.
For dough, I wanted to use Chinese dough recipe. Despite the fact that I don’t make dim sum, I have four books on the subject. Going against the grain, I pick the cookbook with the least amount of Chinese characters in it – Ellen Leong Blonder’s “Dim Sum.” The simple design and straightforward recipes made the book very approachable and appropriate for my first attempt. Not surprising, the dough recipe is similar to my standard sweet dough recipe, minus the sugar and shortening instead of butter.
For brisket, I head to Smart & Final and buy a small brisket. I used to buy whole brisket at the Korean market but it always required negotiation on price (since I’m buying the brisket in the cryopack.) However, that was tedious and Smart & Final happens to also be closer. The brisket was dry rubbed, then smoked for 12 hours at 250 degrees.
Still messing around with the appropriate time and temperature, but lower and longer is definitely the way to go. Cook’s Illustrated notes that collagen is broken down at an internal temp at 210 degrees. However, time is also required for all the collagen to bread down. In my testing, the internal temp of 180 with a cooking temp of 250 (traditional method) will yield a better result than an internal temp of 210 with a cooking temp of 350 (Cook’s Illustrated).
For sauce, I simply used my favorite BBQ sauce, Salt Lick’s. Elissa is a strong advocate of the peppery Rudy’s BBQ sauce, but the sweet, Asian influenced Salt Lick sauce made sense to me. Char sui is also slightly sweet, and it’s Asian.
Here’s the post bake smoked brisket bao. No internal shot yet, but suffice to say that they require a little more work. My dough does not have the lightness associated with baos, but I think it has to do with non-mechanized kneading. Also, don’t have the technique correct for shaping and filling, and I should add a little corn starch slurry to the sauce to increase the consistency. Looks like I have a lot to work on.