A perfect lunch or casual dinner dish features Asian flavors just right for the whole family.
This is a wonderful flavor-filled casual meal for serving at lunch or dinner. It brings Asian tastes to the table achieving the balance of sweet, sour, salty and umani in the same dish. Umani is a Japanese word the direct translation of which is “pleasant savory taste”. This dish is not, however, Japanese, although the mayo I spread lightly on the buns was indeed Japanese.
Southeast Asian flavor with a spice level that you can adjust to however much spice you like.
It is more Southeast Asian than Japanese precisely because it does add spice. But here’s what makes it so family-friendly. Although it has a kick, the spice level is well under control. There’s a surprisingly small amount of Hoisin sauce and the ground fresh chili paste, Sambal Oelek, in the pork itself. Instead, the hoisin and Sambal Oelek sauce are served on the side. You can up the spice level simply by pouring it over the finished bun. What you end up with is a great combination of pork, crunchy vegetables, and bok choy, mint, and cilantro tucked into a soft bun.
Though not mandatory, Japanese Kewpie Mayonnaise adds another element to the dish.
The bun is lightly dressed with mayonnaise. I use Kewpie Japanese mayonnaise which I prize for its distinct flavor. It’s made with egg yolks which give it a unique color too. But you can use good old American mayo or leave it out altogether. For the bun itself, I used Brioche Hot Dog buns. The original recipe, which came from Martha Stewart, suggested split-top hot dog buns specifically mentioning King’s Hawaiian. The bok choy and red pepper slaw is not only colorful, but it adds a welcome bit of acid to the proceedings. Altogether this might make a great introduction to Asian flavors for young children. My own grandson was once quoted as saying “Me no like spicy” but I am pretty sure this would pass muster.
Before the recipe, some other Asian favorites you might like…
Asian Pork Buns with Bok Choy Slaw
A family-friendly Asian dish that lets everyone decide how much spice they like.
- 1/2 cup hoisin sauce
- 4 teaspoons sambal oelek, plus more for serving
- 5 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
- 1 red bell pepper, halved, seeded, and cut into 1/4-inch strips (1 1/2 cups)
- 1 small head bok choy, stems thinly sliced (1 cup), leaves reserved
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 pound ground pork
- 8 teaspoons mayonnaise
- 4 split-top hot-dog buns, such as King's Hawaiian
- 1/2 cup lightly packed fresh herbs, such as mint, cilantro, or basil
- Step 1 Stir together hoisin, sambal oelek, and 1 tablespoon vinegar. In another bowl, stir together bell pepper, bok-choy stems, and remaining 1/4 cup vinegar. Season with salt and pepper.
- Step 2 Place pork in a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Season with salt and cook, breaking up with the back of a spoon until cooked and beginning to brown, 5 to 6 minutes (there will be some liquid in the skillet). Add 1/4 cup hoisin mixture and cook until sauce is reduced and evenly coats the meat, about 30 seconds.
- Step 3 Spread mayonnaise on buns. Serve pork in buns with bok-choy leaves, slaw, and herbs, with remaining hoisin mixture and sambal oelek alongside.