These buns were inspired by a weeks long binge of Korean cooking. The heat will depend on the gochujang you use, as it varies from mild to extra hot. The glaze and toppings are optional so you can choose how your rolls come out. Without the glaze your rolls will be more portable and can be eaten without utensils.
You will need:
A large bowl, a glass measuring cup with increments marked on the side, measuring spoons, a rubber spatula, and a 9 x 13 baking pan.
Preheat your oven to 375.
1 cup warm milk (body temp, about 20 seconds in the microwave seems to work fine)
2.5 tsp yeast
2 room temperature eggs, large
1/3 c butter
1/2 c sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ginger powder
1/2 tsp gochugaru, Korean chili flakes (optional)
4 c flour
Add yeast to your warm milk and set aside while you combine the other ingredients in your large bowl. Add in the milk and yeast and stir to combine with your spatula until dough starts to form. Then go in with your hands and knead until the dough is smooth, you can do this in the bowl or on a floured work surface. Place into a greased bowl, or leave in your work bowl, and cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap and place in a warm area to rise for 30 minutes.
8 ounces of cream cheese, softened
3 Tbs gochujang, Korean chili paste
1 Tbs chili crisp (optional)
Combine ingredients in a bowl, until you have a semi-smooth mixture. Set aside.
The Glaze (optional)
1/3 cup ketchup
2-3 Tbs gochujang
2 Tbs soy sauce
In your glass measuring cup add the ketchup, gochujang and soy sauce and stir vigorously. Add water to the 1 cup line and stir again until there are no lumps of paste remaining. For thicker glaze leave out the water, or only fill to the 3/4 cup line.
After the initial rise turn the dough out onto a large lightly floured works surface. Pat it out into a rectangular shape and then roll out to approximately 12" x 24". Using your spatula, spread the filling evenly over the dough, leaving the long edges covered a bit thinly, as your filling will push out towards those edges as you roll.
Working gently, roll from one short side. Turn the roll so that it is parallel to the edge of your work surface. Grasping each end gently with your full hand, lift and tap the center of the roll lightly against your work surface to stretch it 3 inches or so.
If you are using the glaze, now is the time for it. Using shortening or butter, grease your baking pan, and then spread the glaze evenly over the bottom.
Using a very sharp knife, cut the roll in half, then each of those in half again. This will give you 4 long pieces. Cut each of those into 3 pieces, for a total of 12. Place each roll cut side up into your pan leaving room in between the rolls. Cover again and allow to rise for 20 minutes.
Before the pan goes into the oven, you may brush the tops of the rolls with melted butter, an egg wash, or even chili oil. Bake for 28-30 minutes or until the tops are golden. Allow to cool before removing from the pan.
If desired, you can brush the tops with a bit of sesame oil when they come out of the oven.
Serve with butter, sour cream or more gochjang, they are also lovely with mayonnaise.
If you do not have an Asian market handy you can find a selection of gochujang in different heat levels at Asian Mart. It keeps well, and if you find it as addictive as I do, you'll go through it in no time at all.
Please enjoy, keep exploring, and eat all the things!