My wife will tell you that I’m not a big fan of leftovers. It’s true, while I don’t hate leftovers, I am usually not a fan of eating something 2 or 3 days in a row. I will agree that certain things are definitely better the second or third day. Soups, stews, and most braised dishes fall squarely into this category. And who can resist a meatloaf sandwich the day after? Or a roast turkey sandwich the day after Thanksgiving? But these are the exceptions. To really get excited about leftovers, I have to come up with a whole new way to disguise and serve them.

Not long ago we had some leftovers from a pork roast. Usually, I would just slice and eat it as a sandwich or chop it up and make BBQ’d pork sandwiches with it, but I wanted something different. Then I remembered one of my favorite Chinese dishes that I used to eat regularly, when I lived in Chicago-Char Sui Bao-steamed dumplings with barbecued pork. Suddenly, I was very much looking forward to leftovers.

I knew I couldn’t make traditional Char Sui. That starts with marinating your pork before cooking. My pork was already cooked. Even if I couldn’t make “real” Char Sui, I could approximate its flavor. The buns were a different matter. I had never attempted Bao before so I searched the web, reading numerous recipes and came up with one I thought would work well. The texture turned out well, and the flavor was excellent. The only thing that I wasn’t happy about, and this is a small compliant, is that my buns didn’t end up beautifully white like the ones I would buy at restaurants. Mine were more of an off-white, with a slightly yellowish tinge. If anyone knows how I can fix that please let me know. Other than that, these turned out great!!! These buns are very versatile and I imagine that I will find excuses to make these again and fill them with all sorts of great fillings.

Mock Char Sui

1 pound cooked pork, cut into 1/4″ dice
1 Tbsp. sesame oil
1 1/2 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 1/2 Tbsp. honey
4 Tbsp. Hoisin sauce
1/4 tsp. Chinese 5 spice powder
3 Tbsp. water

Heat a saute pan over medium high heat. Add oil and allow to heat. Add pork and cook for 3-4 minutes. Meanwhile combine all the rest of the ingredients and mix well to dissolve the honey. Add remaining ingredients to the saute pan and cook until sauce has thickened and coats the pork. There should be very little excess liquid. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature, or make ahead and chill until ready to use.


makes 12 large or 24 smaller buns

1 1/2 tsp. instant dry yeast
3/4 cup lukewarm water
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
3 scant cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. salt

Combine yeast, water, oil and sugar, stirring to dissolve sugar. Set aside and allow 10 minutes for the yeast to start to activate. Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine the remaining ingredients. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the yeast mixture. Slowly mix the dry ingredients into the liquid until a soft dough forms (if it doesn’t seem to come together easily add more water, a teaspoon at a time, until it does. Turn the dough out onto a flat surface and knead for 5 minutes. The dough should be tacky, but not sticky at the beginning. If it sticks to your fingers add just a sprinkling of flour. Lightly oil a bowl and add the dough. Cover and put in a warm place to rise until doubled, about 1-1 1/2 hours. Gently punch down and divide into 12 (this will make rather large bao so if you want smaller, appetizer sized bao divide into 24). Flatten into a 3″ disk, with the sides thicker than the middle.