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Scholarship Deadline and a Nikuman Recipe

Published: February 19, 2019

Our Passport Fund Scholarship deadline is *tomorrow*, and what could make a better treat as you fill out your scholarship application than homemade Nikuman?  For more details, click here and/or scroll down to the end of this recipe!

Nikuman (Steamed Pork Bun) is possibly one of the world’s most perfect foods.  A staple at konbini (corner stores) throughout Japan, this meal-in-a-bun is tidy, filling, and delicious.

This week, Seika, our blog editor tested an oishii (delicious) Nikuman recipe from Namiko Chen’s Just One Cookbook.  Her entire family loved them and requested that she make them every night. While they take enough work that they may be more appropriate for a weekend dinner, they are definitely worth giving a try!

Nikuman (steamed pork buns)                                            



image source:

Preparation time: 1 hr

Steaming time: 10-12 mins

Total time: 2 hrs 40 mins (more if this is your first try). 

Serves: 20 small buns, 15 medium buns



  • 11 oz all-purpose flour plus extra for dusting
  • 2 Tbsp sugar 
  • ½ tsp salt (kosher,  use half if using table salt)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp instant dry yeast
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable or canola oil
  • 160-170 ml water 

For the filling

  • 2 dried shiitake mushrooms
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 green onion
  • 4 leaves cabbage 
  • 1 tsp salt (kosher; use half if using table salt)
  • ¾ lb ground pork 
  • 1 inch ginger 
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp sake
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp potato/corn starch
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  1. Soak the dried shiitake mushrooms in ½ cup water. Make sure mushrooms stay submerged.
  1. Put flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, instant dry yeast and oil in a mixing bowl.  Mix by hand or with a dough hook on a stand mixer until ingredients are incorporated.
  1. You may knead by hand for 10-15 minutes or continue mixing with the stand mixer for 10 more minutes and then knead by hand until dough is smooth and silky. Sprinkle the working surface with flour as needed. Form the dough into a smooth, round shape. Coat the bottom of the bowl with oil and place the dough in the bowl. Cover it with plastic wrap and put it in a warm place until the dough doubles in size, about 30-60 minutes.
  1. Remove the tough core of the cabbage leaves and mince them.  Sprinkle the chopped cabbage with 1 tsp. salt. Mix thoroughly and let it sit in a bowl to draw out excess water.
  1.  Thinly slice the scallion.
  1. Squeeze the liquid out of the rehydrated mushrooms, cut off the tough stem, and mince the mushroom tops.
  1. In a large bowl, combine ground pork, scallion, and shiitake mushrooms. Squeeze all the excess water out from the cabbage with your hands and add into the bowl.
  1. Grate ginger and add all the seasonings (sugar, sake,  soy sauce,  sesame oil,  potato/corn starch, and freshly ground black pepper).
  1. Knead the mixture well until it is well combined and looks pale and sticky. Set aside (or cover with plastic wrap and keep in the fridge) until the dough is ready.
  1. Once the dough has doubled in size, dust the working surface with flour and divide the dough in half and then roll each piece of dough into a log. Cut each log into 5 even pieces and then cut each piece in half (Although Seika would recommend only making 15 buns with this dough. 20 made buns that  were a little smaller than she liked) Form each piece of dough into a ball and dust the dough balls with flour to avoid sticking to each other. Space each ball apart and cover loosely with damp kitchen cloth to avoid drying out. Let them rest for 10 minutes.
  1. Bring water to boil and prepare a steamer.  Cut 20 (or 15) squares of parchment paper about 3”x3”.
  1. Take a ball of dough and flatten it with your palm. Then roll it with a rolling pin into a round sheet After rolling 1-2 times, rotate the dough so the circle doesn’t get too long in any direction. Repeat this process until the dough is thin and the circle is about 4” in diameter The center of dough should be thicker than the edge.
  1. Scoop 1½ Tbsp of filling (more if you are only making 15 buns) and place in the center of the dough.
  1. Hold the dough with the left hand and seal the bun using a pleating motion.  Click this to see Namiko Chen’s video of this entire recipe.  For folding instructions, start at about 2:28. 
  1. Place the bun on a piece of parchment paper that fits the bun. Let the buns rest for 20 minutes.
  1. Once the water is boiling, place the buns and parchmentpaper in the steamer tray leaving about 2” between each bun (buns will get larger while being steamed). Close the lid and steam over high heat for 10 minutes (10 for small buns, 13 for medium, 15 for big). If you use a regular pot for steaming, wrap the lid with a kitchen cloth to prevent the condensation (formed on the lid) from dripping onto the buns. Enjoy immediately.
  1. The buns keep well in the fridge till next day and freeze well after steamed. Wrap them in plastic wrap and then pack them in freezer bags. To reheat, steam frozen buns for a few minutes.

For fantastic pictures and more details, go to:

The Passport Fund Scholarship application deadline is Wednesday, February 20, 2019.

Passport Fund 

The Passport Fund is Concordia Language Village’s largest need-based scholarship program. Scholarships are need-based for villagers attending one-, two-, and four-week programs at any village. February 20 is the Passport Fund Scholarship Application Deadline.  To apply, complete a Passport Fund application or contact  

But wait, there’s more…

Scholarships for Mori No Ike Villagers from the Midwest.

The US-Japan Foundation has generously donated funding to a limited number of villagers to attend a four-week, High School Credit session at Mori no Ike. Awards are need-based and will cover partial tuition for the session. Preference will be given to students from the Midwest.  To apply, complete a Passport Fund  application or contact  

Thanks to generous support from OMRON, need-based scholarships are available for Chicago-area youth to participate in a summer youth immersion program at the Japanese Language Village.  Scholarship applicants may attend a one-, two-, or four-week session. To apply, please follow the Passport Fund application instructions.

Scholarships for Minnesota Students

The Minnesota Office of Higher Education (OHE) provides stipends on a first-come, first-served basis, to cover all or a portion of the direct cost for students in grades 3-11 to attend eligible summer academic enrichment programs. This scholarship is for villagers from Minnesota who qualify for free or reduced lunch and have a “C” average or higher. This scholarship can be used at any Concordia Language Village.

 You will need to register for a summer session before submitting a scholarship application. You can find instructions and FAQ's here. Reduced deposit amounts are available upon request. The scholarship application forms will be located in the Forms and Documents of your page of your MyVillage account once you register for a Mori no Ike program.

Scholarship applicants will be notified of their status no later than April 1.