Baked venison puffs
- April 2019
- Makes 25-30
- Hands-on time 1 hour 20 min, oven time 12-15 min, plus at least 4 hours marinating, chilling and resting
These venison pastry puffs, unique to Yauatcha restaurant, are inspired by Asian culinary techniques but have a European twist – venison replaces the traditional pork filling. The meat is marinated in black pepper and char siu barbecue sauce, then wrapped in puff pastry, topped with sesame seeds and baked. The final flavour and texture are superb.
Follow our step-by-step recipe from chef Tong Chee Hwee
- 20.2g (9.6g saturated)
- 26.4g (7.4g sugars)
- 300g venison leg or shoulder, trimmed and cut into 0.5cm pieces
- ½ tbsp caster sugar
- ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- Pinch white pepper
- 90ml vegetable oil
- ½ small onion, very finely chopped
For the shallot oil
- 3½ tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 shallot, finely sliced into rings
For the char siu barbecue sauce
- Olive oil for frying
- Knob of butter
- ½ small onion, finely chopped
- 40g ginger, finely chopped
- 1 large shallot, finely chopped
- 6 spring onions, finely chopped
- ½ tbsp light soy sauce
- ½ tbsp dark soy sauce
- 4 tbsp oyster sauce
- 115g caster sugar
- 25g cornflour
- 25g potato starch
For the basic dough
- 325g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
- 30g unsweetened custard powder (see tips)
- 15g caster sugar
- 3½ tbsp vegetable oil
For the butter dough
- 315g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
- 250g salted butter at room temperature (but not soft)
- 250g unsalted butter at room temperature (but not soft)
- ½ tsp vanilla essence
- 2 medium free-range egg yolks
- 75ml golden syrup
- 1-2 tbsp sesame seeds
You’ll also need…
- 8cm plain or fluted round pastry cutter
- For the shallot oil, heat the 3½ tbsp vegetable oil in a wok or a saucepan over a low-medium heat. Add the shallot and cook for 5-6 minutes until golden. Strain through a sieve into a jug, discarding the shallot (or see Chef Tong’s tips, below), then set aside to cool.
- Put the venison in a bowl with the sugar, 1 tbsp of the shallot oil, the black pepper, white pepper and a generous pinch of salt. Cover with cling film and leave to marinate in the fridge for at least 4 hours (12 hours is best if you have time).
- Heat the 90ml vegetable oil in a frying pan over a high heat, add the onion and cook for 3 minutes until just starting to soften, then add the marinated venison and cook for 5-6 minutes more. Remove from the heat, scoop out the venison and onion using a slotted spoon, then put in a bowl lined with kitchen paper.
- For the barbecue sauce, heat a drizzle of olive oil and a knob of butter in a large frying pan over a medium-high heat. Add the onion, ginger, shallot and spring onions, then cook for 4-5 minutes until golden. Remove from the heat. Mix both soy sauces, oyster sauce and 250ml water in a jug, then pour into the pan, return to the heat and bring to the boil. Bubble to reduce by about a third, then stir in the 115g sugar.
- Add the venison to the sauce and simmer for 4-5 minutes. Meanwhile, mix the cornflour and potato starch with 65ml cold water to form a paste. Slowly pour the starch mixture into the sauce, stirring all the time, until thick and glossy, then remove from the heat, season with salt and pepper and set aside to cool (see Make Ahead).
- To make the basic dough, mix the 325g flour, custard powder (see food team’s tips), caster sugar and vegetable oil in a large bowl, then pour in 125ml cold water. Mix to form a soft dough, adding a little extra water if needed. Wrap in cling film and chill for 30 minutes.
- Once the dough has rested, turn out onto a lightly floured surface, knead gently, then shape into a thick 15cm x 25cm rectangle and set aside to come to room temperature while you make the butter dough (see Chef Tong’s tips).
- To make the butter dough, put the 315g flour in large bowl, add the butters and rub them in using your fingers to make a ragged dough.
- Add the vanilla and rub in, then bring the dough together into a ball.
- Turn out the butter dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll to make a fat sausage shape. Fold the right-hand side into the centre, then fold in the left side.
- Roll into a rectangle about 30cm x 35cm.
- Put the basic dough on one half of the butter dough rectangle.
- Then fold the butter dough over to encase the basic dough. Press down and seal the edges around the dough, keeping them straight and even. Cover with cling film and chill for 20 minutes.
- Lightly flour the work surface and gently bash the dough with a rolling pin to soften it. Roll out to about 20cm x 50cm (with the long edge nearest you) and fold the left third to the centre, then the right third over that. Give the dough a quarter-turn (to the left or right) and roll out again, away from you, to three times the length.
- Give the dough a quarter turn (same direction) and fold as before.
- Cover with cling film and chill for at least 20 minutes. Repeat the rolling, folding and chilling twice more, then chill again.
- Heat the oven to 220°C/200°C fan/gas 7. Once rested, roll out the dough to 0.5mm thick (you may need to halve the dough and work in batches, depending on the size of your work surface). Stamp out 25-30 x 8cm discs with the cutter.
- Take a disc and gently stretch it a little, keeping the round shape. Hold it in your palm and put 1-2 tsp filling in the centre. Use both hands to bring the edges together to make a 3-cornered star.
- Then pinch the edges together to seal. Fold each point back on itself towards the centre, then pinch to seal again and turn the ends of each point clockwise to give a rounded shape. Turn upside-down and push down gently to tidy. Repeat with the rest of the dough and filling. Put the puffs, folds underneath, on a baking tray lined with nonstick baking paper.
- Whisk the egg yolks and brush over the puffs.
- Set aside for 5 minutes, then brush again. Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden and puffed. While still hot, brush each with a little golden syrup, sprinkle over the sesame seeds and serve.
If you don’t have any custard powder, use cornflour instead.
Serve the puffs with chilli bean paste or chilli oil to dip.
Make the filling up to 2 days ahead and keep covered in the fridge. The unbaked puffs will keep for a day, covered in the fridge. Alternatively, freeze on trays, then transfer to freezer bags for up to 2 months. Defrost overnight, then bake as in the recipe.
Chef Tong’s tips for success
Don’t discard the fried shallot (step 1). When completely cool, store the leftover oil and shallot separately in airtight containers or jars. Use leftover oil for stir-fries and sprinkle crispy shallots over salads or fried rice. Use within a month.
For the dough, use an oil with a neutral flavour, such as vegetable oil. Olive oil will also work but may impart its flavour to the finished puffs.
Make sure the two types of dough are the same temperature before combining them in step 10, otherwise the finished pastry may not have the required flaky layers.
Overworking (or kneading) the pastry while you’re working with it will destroy the layers and will develop the gluten, resulting in tough pastry.
Brushing the venison puffs twice (step 14) will guarantee a deep golden, glossy finish.
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