ROU JIA MO CHINESE HAMBURGER
Shaanxi Province’s Intangible Cultural Heritage, or Rou Jia Mo, was awarded to the Chinese Hamburger this year. Even though the title isn’t exactly easy to speak, I think it’s an honor well-earned!
What is the name of this?
“Meat in Bun” is a straight translation of Rou Jia Mo, which we may conceive of like a Chinese sloppy joe or Hamburger. As a result, there is meat and a bun. The two will be discussed.
The pork filling is called La Zhi Rou, nearly 2,000 years old! That the Chinese were eating pig belly thousands of years ago is mind-boggling.
If La Zhi Rou was eaten as is, perhaps with rice or stuffed into a bun, I began to wonder: who was the first sandwich maker? If you will, the Chinese Earl of Sandwich.
Instead of rice, the Northern regions rely on the bun, aka “mo” (the Northerners’ word for mantou). Mo can be steamed or baked, depending on your preference. The mo is cooked in a wok or pan with the lid on.
In many instances, Northerners and Southerners in China have distinct cuisines, customs, and even languages. Northerners call their father “Da” or “Die, ” while Southerners call their father “Ba, ” There are some interesting tidbits here!
FOR THE MEAT:
- 2 lb. of pork belly
- 3 cups of water
- ¼ cup of Shaoxing wine
- 12 grams of rock sugar
- 2 tbsp. of light soy sauce
- 1 tbsp. of dark soy sauce
- 4 scallions (cut in half)
- 3 slices of ginger
- 2 star anise
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 black cardamom pod
- 2 pieces of galangal (or sand ginger)
- 1 tsp. of Sichuan peppercorns
- 3 pcs. of bay leaves
- Salt (to taste)
- 1 cup of chopped cilantro
FOR THE BUNS:
- 3½ cups of all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp. of active dry yeast
- ¾ tsp. of salt
- 1 to 1¼ cups of warm water
- Pork belly can be served whole or chopped into huge pieces, each around 4 to 5 inches in diameter. Fill a medium pot halfway with water, then add the pork belly. Bring the liquid to a rolling boil. Turn off the heat, remove the pork from the saucepan, and wash it under running water once it has turned opaque and seems cooked on the exterior. Remove the pot from the stove and wash it thoroughly.
- Using a new saucepan, add the pork belly, 3 cups of water, Shaoxing wine, rock sugar, light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, scallions, ginger and star anise, and cinnamon, black cardamom, and galangal. Boil everything together, then immediately turn it down and simmer for 90 minutes to two hours until the meat is cooked. A fork can be used to test it. If you can easily pull the fork out, it’s done. Avoid drying out the sauce by not using excessive heat during simmering. Taste and adjust the amount of salt.
- Make the buns while the pork is in the oven. In a large mixing basin, combine flour, yeast, and salt to make a smooth batter. Add the warm water in stages, mixing and kneading until the dough forms a ball. To make the buns chewier, knead the dough for an additional 10 minutes after it has been shaped into a ball. This can also be done with an electric mixer with a dough hook. The soft and easy-to-handle dough is what you want in a pie crust. When the dough has doubled in size, cover it and let it rest for about an hour at room temperature.
- After proofing the dough, knead it for 5 minutes to remove any air bubbles. Make 12 equal-sized pieces of dough by dividing the mixture in half. While shaping the buns, keep the dough balls covered with a dish towel to keep them from drying out.
- Each dough ball should be rolled out into a cigar-like shape before being used to form the buns. As a final step, roll it out into a longer but thinner strip before folding the two ends in half lengthwise. The loose end should be placed under the package. Press down with your palm on the side with the swirls facing up. Now, flatten it into a disc with a diameter of about 4 inches. To make all of the dough balls, simply follow these directions. Allow the formed buns to rest for 20 minutes under a dry kitchen towel before frying.
- The pan should be preheated to medium-high heat. Separate the buns by approximately an inch in the pan (no oil is necessary). Allow the buns to cook for 2 minutes on each side with the cover on. Your buns may burn if you use too high of a heat setting. Remove the lid and continue cooking the buns for a further minute after they’ve been cooked for 2 minutes on each side.
- Take the pork and finely chop it before serving it in a bowl. Add the chopped cilantro and the meat’s sauce to your desired consistency and mix it. Asian sloppy joes can be saucy or dry, depending on how much sauce you want to put on your sandwich. Toss everything together, cut up a bun and stuff it full of the meat.