Korean Beef Steam Buns with Sweet Potato Tempura & Spicy Mayonnaise

Korean Beef Steam Buns

with Sweet Potato Tempura & Spicy Mayonnaise

50 MIN
3 Servings
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From the Test Kitchen

In this recipe, bao, or fluffy steam buns, take on a decidedly Korean flair. We’re slathering them with a spicy mayonnaise made with gochujang, a sweet, hot red pepper paste used in traditional dishes. As for the filling, we’re cooking tender beef with savory black bean sauce, scallions, ginger, and a bit more gochujang, then layering it all with crunchy slices of radish. On the side, sweet potato, coated in tempura batter and pan-fried to an airy crisp, makes for a seasonal complement.

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  • Nutrition
    PER SERVING
  • Calories
    720 Cals (est.)
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tips & techniques
Prepare the ingredients & make the spicy mayonnaise:
1 Prepare the ingredients & make the spicy mayonnaise:

Heat a medium pot of water to boiling on high. Wash and dry the fresh produce. Cut the sweet potato into ¼-inch-thick rounds. Cut off and discard the root ends of the scallions; thinly slice on an angle, separating the white bottoms and green tops. Peel and finely chop the ginger. Cut off and discard the ends of the radishes; thinly slice into rounds. In a bowl, combine the mayonnaise and up to half the gochujang, depending on how spicy you’d like the dish to be; season with salt and pepper to taste.

Make the sweet potato tempura:
2 Make the sweet potato tempura:

To make the batter, in a large bowl, whisk together the tempura mix and ¼ cup of cold water until smooth; season with salt and pepper. In a large pan (nonstick, if you have one), heat a thin layer of oil on medium-high until hot. Once the oil is hot enough that a drop of batter sizzles immediately when added to the pan, working in batches if necessary, coat the sweet potato in the batter (letting any excess drip off). Carefully add to the pan in a single layer and cook 4 to 6 minutes per side, or until lightly browned and crispy. (If the pan seems dry, add a drizzle of oil between batches.) Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate; immediately season with salt and pepper. Carefully discard any excess oil. Wipe out the pan.

Steam the buns:
3 Steam the buns:

While the sweet potato cooks, rest a strainer (or colander) over the pot of boiling water, making sure the water doesn’t reach the bottom of the strainer. Working in batches if necessary, place the buns in the strainer; cover with the lid of the pot. Steam 3 to 5 minutes, or until softened and puffy. Carefully transfer to a work surface.

Cook the beef:
4 Cook the beef:

Using your hands, separate the sliced beef; pat dry with paper towels. Season with salt and pepper. In the same pan, heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the seasoned beef in a single layer. Cook, without stirring, 1 to 2 minutes, or until browned. Add the white bottoms of the scallions, ginger, black bean sauce, and as much of the remaining gochujang as you’d like, depending on how spicy you’d like the dish to be. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, 1 to 2 minutes, or until thoroughly combined and the beef is just cooked through. Turn off the heat; season with salt and pepper to taste.

Plate your dish:
5 Plate your dish:

Gently open each steamed bun; spread with a thin layer of the spicy mayonnaise. Divide the cooked beef and radishes among the buns. Transfer ⅔ of the assembled buns and ⅔ of the sweet potato tempura to serving dishes (you will have extra buns and tempura). Garnish the buns with the green tops of the scallions. Enjoy!

Tips from Home Chefs

1 Prepare the ingredients & make the spicy mayonnaise:

Heat a medium pot of water to boiling on high. Wash and dry the fresh produce. Cut the sweet potato into ¼-inch-thick rounds. Cut off and discard the root ends of the scallions; thinly slice on an angle, separating the white bottoms and green tops. Peel and finely chop the ginger. Cut off and discard the ends of the radishes; thinly slice into rounds. In a bowl, combine the mayonnaise and up to half the gochujang, depending on how spicy you’d like the dish to be; season with salt and pepper to taste.

2 Make the sweet potato tempura:

To make the batter, in a large bowl, whisk together the tempura mix and ¼ cup of cold water until smooth; season with salt and pepper. In a large pan (nonstick, if you have one), heat a thin layer of oil on medium-high until hot. Once the oil is hot enough that a drop of batter sizzles immediately when added to the pan, working in batches if necessary, coat the sweet potato in the batter (letting any excess drip off). Carefully add to the pan in a single layer and cook 4 to 6 minutes per side, or until lightly browned and crispy. (If the pan seems dry, add a drizzle of oil between batches.) Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate; immediately season with salt and pepper. Carefully discard any excess oil. Wipe out the pan.

Make the sweet potato tempura:
Steam the buns:
3 Steam the buns:

While the sweet potato cooks, rest a strainer (or colander) over the pot of boiling water, making sure the water doesn’t reach the bottom of the strainer. Working in batches if necessary, place the buns in the strainer; cover with the lid of the pot. Steam 3 to 5 minutes, or until softened and puffy. Carefully transfer to a work surface.

4 Cook the beef:

Using your hands, separate the sliced beef; pat dry with paper towels. Season with salt and pepper. In the same pan, heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the seasoned beef in a single layer. Cook, without stirring, 1 to 2 minutes, or until browned. Add the white bottoms of the scallions, ginger, black bean sauce, and as much of the remaining gochujang as you’d like, depending on how spicy you’d like the dish to be. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, 1 to 2 minutes, or until thoroughly combined and the beef is just cooked through. Turn off the heat; season with salt and pepper to taste.

Plate your dish:
5 Plate your dish:

Gently open each steamed bun; spread with a thin layer of the spicy mayonnaise. Divide the cooked beef and radishes among the buns. Transfer ⅔ of the assembled buns and ⅔ of the sweet potato tempura to serving dishes (you will have extra buns and tempura). Garnish the buns with the green tops of the scallions. Enjoy!

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