Storing and Reheating roast pork buns and the such
Lots of places in Chinatwon (here in NYC) sell packages of different types of roast pork buns (not frozen) and I see a lot of people buying large amounts of dai bao from Mei Leh Wah. How should I store these? How long do they last? and How should I reheat them? (can they be microwaved?) Any suggestions would be most appreciated.
I buy them all the time from Marukai, a great Japanese store in Gardena. I wrap them in a papertowel and microwave them for approximately 30 seconds each. Since a pack of four don't last in my house for more than a day or two, I can't tell you how long they would be good.
There are two types of roast pork buns: the dense, small ones where the pork erupts from the top, and the large, smooth-topped ones where the bread is yeasty. I was raised on and still prefer the larger, yeasty buns (bao), and I used to buy them a half-dozen at a time in SF's Chinatown, and my recommendation only encompasses those bao. I found that tightly wrapped in clingfilm and then placed in a ziplock freezer bag they froze well for at least two weeks. I do not recommend nuking them as the bread then gets that nasty wooden texture as it cools, but they steam up in a bamboo steamer just fine.
I've stored large and small bao in the freezer successfully for many months. I haven't actually counted, but I dare say some have been in the deep freeze for up to a year with no noticeable degradation in quality (that I can tell).
Although you can microwave them, they seem to cool pretty quickly, and then the dough becomes a chewy, rubbery mass. Your best bet is to steam. I grant you it'll take more time to set up, but I guarantee the bao will be softer and will stay hot longer than nuking it. I usually steam the small baos about 10 minutes and the large ones about 20 minutes, all starting from frozen. (That is, putting frozen bao in a pot already steaming away.) Just given them a light squeeze after a time; they should feel soft and plump.
It just occurred to me that there are those steaming devices that work in the microwave, aren't there? I haven't tried that yet. I wonder how that would work. Anyone?
I leave them sitting on the counter if I'm going to consume them within a day or so. After all, where were they in the market when you purchased them?....either sitting in a warmer (read incubator) or sitting on the counter. I would never, ever reheat in the microwave. This is the voice of experience. I did that ONCE and would never do it again. As already mentioned, the yeast bread just becomes goo, rubbery goo, actually.
Maybe this should be another thread - but I throw it in here anyway. We have a number of Vietnamese sandwich shops popping up around town. They have various premade meals sitting around on styrofoam trays, covered with plastic wrap. No refrigeration. They are things such as cooked sausages, chicken legs, pork slices with dipping sauce, etc. How safe are they to eat? How long can they sit around? I wouldn't hesitate to take fried chicken on a picnic, but are we really talking the same thing here? What are the health department regulations? What are the common sense rules? Are we too hung up on refrigeration?