Pizzaman (Japanese Steamed Pizza Buns)
29 Jul 2023

Pizzaman (Japanese Steamed Pizza Buns)

29 Jul 2023

I’ve always loved Japan and so many things about it, the language, the culture, and of course their food. Japanese konbini or convenience store food is practically a whole unique segment of Japanese cuisine, and one of their most fascinating food items is pizzaman, literally a steamed bun stuffed with pizza-flavored filling.

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Unfortunately I almost never get a chance to sample these yummy-looking snacks in Japan, as they almost always contain pork. In 2023 I finally got to try one at a FamilyMart, where the pizzaman was meat-free. My verdict? A little disappointing, honestly. While the combination of melted cheese, tomato sauce and bread makes excellent comfort food especially in cold weather, I still wondered how much more comforting it would be when filled with savory meat sauce.

Well, sometimes if you really wanna eat something you just have to make it yourself, and while you’re at it, why not just pull all the stops and elevate it? When developing this recipe, I considered a couple of things. Firstly, all components must include elements of Italian food; immediately in my head I listed out olive oil, Italian herbs, sausages, San Marzano tomatoes, Italian cheeses. Secondly, the final product can be elevated but still remain true to its humble origin – a simple, comforting snack food – with execution and ingredients dialed to 11.

I used a variation of my go-to pau dough recipe, and drew inspiration from the basic sausage sauce recipe from 500 Pizzas & Flatbreads as well as the recipe from Japanese Cooking 101.

The outcome was wonderful, and everything I imagined pizzaman to be. A flavorful, balanced filling which really tastes like pizza, wrapped in a lovely, fluffy bun. Definitely a keeper.

Pizzaman (Japanese Steamed Pizza Buns)

Ingredients

  • 1 recipe pau dough recipe, substitute the cooking oil with olive oil, and add 1 teaspoon paprika powder to the flour
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 300 grams Italian sausage, removed from casings and crumbled
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil OR 2 teaspoons fresh, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano OR 1 tablespoon fresh, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds (jintan manis)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (400-gram) can whole peeled plum tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar OR prune juice OR red grape juice
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 100 grams mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated

Directions

Make the filling. In a large skillet over medium high heat, heat the oil.

Add the sausage and cook, breaking the chunks apart with your spatula or spoon, until browned, 1 to 2 minutes per side.

Add the garlic, basil, oregano, fennel seeds, and ground black pepper and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes.

Add the canned tomatoes, tomato paste, vinegar or juice, and sugar and stir to combine. Break the tomatoes into small chunks using a wooden spoon.

Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has evaporated and sauce has thickened, about 30 minutes.

Add the salt and red pepper flakes. Remove from heat.

In a medium sized bowl, add the cheeses and toss to thoroughly combine.

Stir in the cheese mixture into the sauce.

Spread the filling in a tray and let cool, about 30 minutes. Divide the filling to roughly 16 equal-sized portions.

Make the dough, substituting the cooking oil with olive oil, and adding 1 teaspoon paprika powder to the flour. When the dough is done resting for 10 to 15 minutes, transfer to a lightly dusted surface.

Divide the dough into 16 equal sized pieces.

Prepare 16 pieces of plain paper or reusable silicone baking sheets, about 8cm by 8cm square. Arrange them in your steamer basket, leaving some space in between.

Working with one piece of dough at a time and keeping the rest covered, shape the dough into a ball.

Flatten the dough with the palm of your hand.

Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough into a 1/4-inch thick disc.

Place your rolling pin on about 1/3 of the disc from the top. Roll outwards. Turn the disc about a quarter turn, and repeat. Repeat until you have a disc with a thinner outer ring but still about 1/4 inch thick in the centre. 

Scoop a portion of the filling onto the center of the disc.

Pleat to seal. Here’s my favorite video on how to do this nicely.

Place on your prepared paper squares in the steamer basket. Repeat for the remaining dough. Let rest, covered, about 45 minutes.

Before steaming the buns, lightly spray them with water.

Wrap the lid of your steamer with a large cloth. This will prevent the condensation from dripping onto the buns.

Place the basket over your steamer, cover tightly with the lid and steam, 10 to 15 minutes.

Do not open the lid and let the buns rest undisturbed for about 10 minutes after turning off the heat. This will prevent them from collapsing. If you are unable to steam all the buns in one go, place the remaining buns in the fridge, covered, until they are ready for steaming.

Dig in!

Pizzaman

An elevated, indulgent version of a konbini classic.

Ingredients
  

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 300 grams Italian sausage removed from casings and crumbled
  • 2 cloves garlic crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil OR 2 teaspoons fresh chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano OR 1 tablespoon fresh chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds jintan manis
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 400-gram can whole peeled plum tomatoes preferably San Marzano
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar OR prune juice OR red grape juice
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 100 grams mozzarella cheese shredded
  • 10 grams sharp cheddar cheese shredded
  • 10 grams parmesan cheese grated
  • 1 recipe pau dough recipe substitute the cooking oil with olive oil, and add 1 teaspoon paprika powder to the flour

Instructions
 

  • Make the filling. In a large skillet over medium high heat, heat the oil.
  • Add the sausage and cook, breaking the chunks apart with your spatula or spoon, until browned, 1 to 2 minutes per side.
  • Add the garlic, basil, oregano, fennel seeds, and ground black pepper and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Add the canned tomatoes, tomato paste, vinegar or juice, and sugar and stir to combine. Break the tomatoes into small chunks using a wooden spoon.
  • Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has evaporated and sauce has thickened, about 30 minutes.
  • Add the salt and red pepper flakes. Remove from heat.
  • In a medium sized bowl, add the cheeses and toss to thoroughly combine.
  • Stir in the cheese mixture into the sauce.
  • Spread the filling in a tray and let cool, about 30 minutes. Divide the filling to roughly 16 equal-sized portions.
  • Make the dough, substituting the cooking oil with olive oil, and adding 1 teaspoon paprika powder to the flour. When the dough is done resting for 10 to 15 minutes, transfer to a lightly dusted surface.
  • Divide the dough into 16 equal sized pieces.
  • Prepare 16 pieces of plain paper or reusable silicone baking sheets, about 8cm by 8cm square. Arrange them in your steamer basket, leaving some space in between.
  • Working with one piece of dough at a time and keeping the rest covered, shape the dough into a ball.
  • Flatten the dough with the palm of your hand. Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough into a 1/4-inch thick disc.
  • Place your rolling pin on about 1/3 of the disc from the top. Roll outwards. Turn the disc about a quarter turn, and repeat. Repeat until you have a disc with a thinner outer ring but still about 1/4 inch thick in the centre.
  • Scoop a portion of the filling onto the center of the disc. Pleat to seal.
  • Place on your prepared paper squares in the steamer basket. Repeat for the remaining dough. Let rest, covered, about 45 minutes.
  • Before steaming the buns, lightly spray them with water. Wrap the lid of your steamer with a large cloth. This will prevent the condensation from dripping onto the buns.
  • Place the basket over your steamer, cover tightly with the lid and steam, 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Do not open the lid and let the buns rest undisturbed for about 10 minutes after turning off the heat.
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