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how to make kodama, moogle and boo ghost steamed pork buns March 26, 2009

Posted by AnnaTheRed in how-to (all), how-to - decorations/basic stuff.
Tags: , , ,

This recipe doesn’t use yeast, so if you want to make buns fast, this is for you! (But as I mentioned in my other post, it’s a bit dry inside.)
For more moist steamed pork bun dough, check out “how to make steamed pork bun dough with yeast.”

When I was experimenting with steamed buns, I realized that Kodama was perfect character to make with buns, so I decided to add Kodama for this how-to.

[How to make Kodama, Moogle and Boo Ghost steamed pork bun dough without yeast]
(makes 8 small buns)
– 1 and 1/4 cup of *cake flour
– 80 ml of water (5 and 1/2 TBS) or milk (I used water)
– 2 TBS of baking powder
– 2 TBS of sugar
– 1/2 TS of salt
– 1 TBS of sesame oil (or vegetable oil)

– seaweed for eyes and mouth (for Kodama, Moogle, Boo Ghost)
– kamaboko (fish cake) (for Boo Ghost’s teeth)
— red food coloring (for Moogle and Boo Ghost)
— wax paper or parchment paper

* I recommend "Swans Down Cake Flour" because it contains 2g of protein (gluten) whereas Pillsbury's cake flour (Softasilk) contains 3g of protein.

[pork bun filling]
– 1/2 lbs of ground pork
– About 1 cup of chopped leeks or scallion (you can put more if you want)
– 4~5 shiitake, chopped (if you have any. Make sure you remove the stems)
– half a can of bamboo shoot, chopped (if you have any)

[seasoning sauce for filling]
– 3 TBS of soy sauce
– 2 TBS of sake
– 1 TBS of sugar
– 1/4 TS of salt
– 2 TBS of sesame oil (or vegetable oil)


1. Mix cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.

2. Pour water (or milk) and oil into #1, and mix it with a spatula. When the flour starts to get lumpy, use your hand to mix. It may feel really watery at first, but keep mixing and the dough will start to get harder. Once it’s not a gooey mess, start kneading the dough.

3. When the surface of the dough is smooth, make it into a ball, wrap it in plastic wrap, and leave it for 15-20 minutes at room temperature.

4. Make the filling while you wait for the dough to settle. Put all veggies in, pour seasoning sauce in, mix in ground pork with your hand. (*The picture shown is twice more filling than the recipe)


...and after. (*This is twice as much filling than the recipe)

5. When the dough is ready, roll it into a 12 inch cylinder shape, and divide the dough in half until you’re left with 8 pieces total.

6. Make each piece into a ball, and roll with a rolling pin to flatten the dough into 4~5 inch diameter shapes.

Keep the other dough covered with wet paper towel or wet cloth while you flatten the dough

* If you’re making a normal steamed bun (the one you close on the top), don’t roll the dough evenly flat. Leave the center part (where you put meat) thicker, otherwise when you try to peel it off from sheet the skin on the bottom might rip and the insides will come out.

7. Put the meat filling on the center of the dough with a spoon, and close the top. You can close the top in many different ways, such as typical fold & twist-close, Gyoza fold or etc… You can find many videos of how to fold & close a bun, so I’m not going to explain it here.
For the Kodama, Moogle, and Boo Ghost, I folded & twist-closed on the top and flipped the bun on either wax paper or parchment paper, so I didn’t have to worry about how the closed part looked.

Ta-da...? Don't worry, you won't see this side.

* However you close it, make sure it’s really closed! If it isn’t, it’ll open up and you’ll lose all juicy pork juice while you’re steaming it. Use a little bit of water to seal the dough tight.

8. Making the body parts for Kodama (or Moogle) is very easy. You just have to shape it and put it on, like playing with play-doh.

If you want to color the dough, just drop one drop of food coloring at a time into the dough and knead it until the color is even. (then add another drop if you want the color to be brighter)

* When you steam the dough, the pieces will expand and stick together by themselves. But if you’re worried, you can use water to glue the pieces together, but don’t use too much water! The dough will get gooey.

* If you want to freeze them, put the buns on a plate or baking pan and put it in the freezer to “flash freeze” them. (meaning set food unwrapped in the freezer until it gets frozen and hard) When the buns are completely frozen, put them in a ziploc bag, and keep them in the freezer.

9. Put them in a steamer. Make sure there’s about 1/2 ~ 1 inch space between each bun. They’ll expand and might stick to the bun next to it.

10. Steam the buns in a steamer for 12-14 minutes!

One of them didn't make it... (He was injured, so my boyfriend ate it before the photo was taken.)

Moogle and Mario Boo Ghost

11. Cut seaweed for Kodama’s, Moogle’s and Boo Ghost’s eyes and mouth. I used Japanese seaweed cutter for the face parts for Moogle and Boo Ghost.

Great thing about Kodama is that you don't have to cut seaweed into a perfect circle. The more irregular the circles are, the cuter they look.

Look at the tiny little feet!

Moogle's nose was touching the lid of the steamer. T_T

I made his tongue a bit too big... I ended up putting teeth on top of his tongue, but you'll get the idea.

You can just eat it as is, but I love dipping my buns in ponzu or soy sauce and vinegar mix. I’ll take a bite and dip it in the sauce and let the skin absorb the sauce, and take a bite and repeat. (But the sauce is pretty salty and vinegary… so it’s probably not for kids.)  Many people put a little bit of mustard on it, some people just dip it in soy sauce.
There are many different kinds of filling for steamed bun in Japan. Pizza, spaghetti, curry, bbq, cheese, etc… I haven’t tried making other steamed buns, but writing this post is definitely making me want to make them! hmmmmmm 😀

how to make Moogle, Boo ghost and Kodama steam buns! on my flickr

For more pictures of my bento, visit Bento! set and Bento details! set on my flickr page.

If you have any questions about any of my how-to’s, please feel free to leave a comment or email me!


1. kellie - April 3, 2009

so cute and looks tasty. i will try this soon! 🙂 thanks. you have such talent. what nationality are you?

2. Myra - April 7, 2009

^_^ just tried this and they came out pretty good! i never thought of using cake flour before. when I started to make them I thought they were going to be little but when I finished steaming them, they really grow! 😀 I’m actually eating one now. I accidentally added a little too much salt into the filling but it tastes good this way ^_^

I’m so happy ^^ I actually really like the way the cake flour tastes because it’s slightly sweeter.

it was so much fun but I think I’ll stick to my onigiri because I can do that so much faster xD and my steamer is so tiny I can only cook 3 buns at once x.x

3. Annie - May 5, 2009

Ooo. These look really good, I’ll have to try it with ground chicken or Turkey.

4. Kitty - May 7, 2009

I just made your recipe, but I feel like the dough tastes a little… odd? Do you really mean 2 TBS of baking powder?

AnnaTheRed - May 18, 2009

Yes, 2 TBS of baking powder. The bun made with baking powder doesn’t get as fluffy as the buns made with yeast, but I don’t think it should give the bun weird taste. Was it bitter?

5. Akane - July 24, 2009

Ooh, I would loooove a recipe for curry filled boo ghost!
lol, and he would have a red color because the curry would be too hot for him.

6. Brian - July 24, 2009

wow, this is great!

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