Steamed Pork Buns – A Mid-Century Recipe Test

Posted on Jan 11 2012 - 6:27am by RetroRuth

So, I suppose we should do a quick recap:

Risking almost certain powdered-soup poisoning, Tom and I decided that we were going to cook a set of four appetizers from Worldly Entertaining Party Ideas From Around The World, a “worldly” cookbook that was published by Lipton in an attempt to get everyone to stock up on much-needed instant powdered soups and bottle salad dressings.

Last week I showed you two surprise successes from our New Year’s Eve table, Scotch Eggs and Pure’ Madrileno. They were good, despite the soup.

This week I bring you Steamed Pork Buns.


These are pretty much packed with salad dressing.

Steamed Buns001

Our soup-and-salad-dressing-based feast. Except for the beer, which I’ve heard has very little soup in it.


Not like the buns, which have a good deal of salad dressing in them.


A LOT of dressing. More dressing than meat, I think.

But maybe it’s best to just drown your ingredients in dressing. It’s less painful for them that way.


Because you are just going to put them on a flattened refrigerator biscuit anyway. And then steam them. Which, as it turns out, is a horrid idea.

See, right here should be a picture of all of the bottoms of my steamed buns stuck to their steaming rack. Because refrigerator biscuits melt when they are steamed. They literally melted through the holes in the rack. However, when it is New Year’s and you are talking to people on the phone and trying to cook horrible food, sometimes you forget to take a picture.

Also, you might be a bit embarrassed, and would rather pretend it didn’t happen like that.


And then you might make your husband fake a photo, to make it look like the buns are whole when in reality it is basically just the tops of the buns lying there on the plate.

Pretty sad, really. Pretty, pretty sad.


But not as sad as this face.


“Bad, huh?”

“These are disgusting. The biscuits have basically turned to glue.”

“How’s the inside?”

“What inside? All I have is a top here. The inside fell out completely.”

The Verdict: Bad. The brand of refrigerator biscuits we picked did not stand up well to steaming. Most of the buns were ruined before they even got out of the oven. Finished buns were chewy and tasted like a flavorless paste. The few that did have filling in them were okay when warm, but basically inedible when cooled. Yuck!

Anyone need more salad dressing?

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I love everything retro, vintage, mid-century, kitsch and all things atomic! A 21st century housewife just trying to fit the 50's. I have a passion for vintage recipes and an enormous vintage cookbook collection that I keep testing, even though by now I should know better. Creator of Mid-Century Menu (, No Pattern Required (, and I Ate The 80's (

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9 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Yinzerella January 11, 2012 at 8:30 am - Reply

    I had such high hopes with Steamed Pork Buns. But at least the tops looked pretty…?
    Makes me want to find an actual recipe for pork buns and give it a whirl.

    • RetroRuth January 11, 2012 at 9:41 am - Reply

      I was so disappointed, too! I thought they were going to be a fun little nibble, and they just turned out gross.

      I have made actual steamed buns several times in the past with much success. You should totally go for it! It’s time consuming, but fun.

  2. Sara In AZ January 11, 2012 at 9:50 am - Reply

    Ugh, that sucks! 🙁 Here I was thinking these would taste as great as last weeks food. It would be interesting to try this recipe with different buns sometime, it seems like it could be good…… 🙂

  3. roadsidewonders January 11, 2012 at 12:00 pm - Reply

    Awww, I was hoping that this recipe might be in the success category. I think my grandmother’s ghost is standing behind me with a “what did you expect from refridgerated biscuits and Russian Dressing” smirk 🙂

    Once again your husband made my day with one of his spectacular reaction faces 🙂

  4. veg-o-matic January 11, 2012 at 12:19 pm - Reply

    Yeah, that curled lip pretty much said it all…

  5. Erica January 12, 2012 at 2:37 pm - Reply

    I’ve heard “salad dressing” goes well with “salad…”

    At least we have fun watching your failures — thanks! 🙂

  6. dave January 14, 2012 at 5:27 pm - Reply

    I just saw a cook on TV steaming fish (it was probably on PBS), and they said to put a piece of parchment paper under whatever your steaming to prevent sticking. It would probably help to keep the bottoms on too. Hope this helps.

    • dave January 14, 2012 at 5:33 pm - Reply

      Never mind. I read the recipe instructions after I posted. Strange.

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