Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Steamed Roasted Pork Buns / Cha Siew Bao [叉烧包]

Steamed Roasted Pork Buns / Cha Siew Bao   [叉烧包]
Steamed Roasted Pork Buns / Cha Siew Bao   [叉烧包]
Steamed Roasted Pork Buns / Cha Siew Bao   [叉烧包]
Look at the paper-thin skin ...
Steamed Roasted Pork Buns / Cha Siew Bao   [叉烧包]
... and the fluffy, soft  texture 
I love steamed buns (also known as pau or bao or baozi) which has a light, fluffy and a little chewy texture with paper-thin skin that can be easily peeled off.  I remember when I was a kid, I was always told to peel the skin off the bao before eating.  I would silently peeled it and then put it into my mouth because I loved the feel of the bao skin in my mouth (weird or what?).  As I grew older I began to understand why we had to remove the skin off the bao - for hygienic reasons.  In those days no bao vendors wore disposable gloves or used tongs to handle the baos.  Now that I made my own bao, I still maintained the habit of peeling the skin off before I eat.  Old habits die hard, you know  :P

This is my first attempt at making bao using Hong Kong flour which is a highly bleached flour.  The extra bleaching produces whiter and softer bao. If you don't like the idea of using bleached flour, you can substitute with cake flour (or even plain flour) and some wheat starch.  The end result is still good except the bao won't turn out super white.  Refer to my Vegetarian Steamed Buns.

Recipe source:  No-Frills Recipe's Steamed Bun [with slight changes]

Starter Dough:

130g Hong Kong flour/bao flour
2.5 tsp (9g) dried instant yeast
110g lukewarm water
  • Sift flour into a mixing bowl and add in yeast.  Using a spoon, mix until well blended. 
  • Add in water and stir to form a dough. Cover with clingwrap and set aside for 20 mins.

Main Dough:
370g Hong Kong flour/bao flour
2-1/8 tsp (9g) baking powder
100g caster sugar
1/2 tsp (4g) salt
135g fresh milk
25g rice bran oil (or vegetable oil)

  • Sift flour and baking powder together into a mixer bowl.  Add in sugar, salt and all the starter dough. Using the dough hook attached to the mixer, incorporate everything.
  • Gradually add in milk (do not pour in all the milk at once; adjust accordingly).  Knead until well combined. 
  • Then add in oil and continue to knead until dough is smooth and elastic and leaves the sides of the bowl.
  • Shape the dough into a ball and place it in a bowl, covered and allow it to rise until double in size (2 hours).
  • Punch down the dough and knead for a while. Divide the dough into 50g portions (makes 17 portions), shape each portion into a ball and cover with a damp cloth.  Rest for 10 minutes. 
  • Take a ball of dough and flatten into a circle.  Spoon cha siew filling onto the centre of the circle.  Pleat the dough to seal and place on a square piece of baking paper.  Rest the buns for 15 minutes before steaming.
  • Arrange buns on a steamer, leaving a gap between the buns.  Spray water mist over buns.
  • Steam the buns under rapidly boiling water on high heat for 10 - 12 minutes.
  • Remove buns from steamer and cool on a wire rack.

Char Siew:
    400g pork belly, remove skin
    400g pork neck, cut into strips of about 2cm thick
    1 tbsp oil
    30g grated palm sugar
    1 cup water

    1/8 tsp five-spiced powder
    1/2 tbsp garlic powder
    dash of pepper
    1 tbsp Chinese rose wine (or cooking wine)
    2 tbsp oyster sauce
    4 tbsp light soy sauce
    1 tbsp dark soy sauce
    1/2 tsp sesame oil

    • Marinate meat with all the marinade ingredients.  Cover and leave it overnight in the fridge.
    • Heat 1 tbsp oil in a frying pan and put in all the marinated meat. Fry meat for about 5 minutes, turning halfway. Add in palm sugar and water and let it simmer under low heat until meat is tender. Spoon out most of the sauce into a bowl and set aside for later use **
    • Under medium heat, cook the meat on both sides until they are glossy and the edges are slightly charred.  Remove meat from pan.
    • Once the meat is cooled enough to handle, dice into small pieces. 

    Char Siew Fillings:  
    370g char siew, diced
    1/2 tsp oil
    5 tbsp char siew sauce (retained from the roasted pork **)
    120 ml water + 1.5 tbsp cornstarch 
    • Heat oil in a frying pan and put in all the diced char siew.  Add in all the char siew sauce and stir to combine.  
    • Then pour in the cornstarch solution and stir until sauce thickens.
    • Transfer onto a plate, cover and refrigerate overnight.  

    Note:  The char siew fillings only enough to fill 14 baos.  So I made the other 3 bao into plain mantou (馒头).



    1. wawuuuu... i love the texture of your bao wor! it looks absolutely fluffy. great, now i gotta go find me a bite.. hungweeeee

      1. Hi Victoria, bet you can easily find these over there. Enjoy ;-)

    2. Hi
      Thank you for your recipe. May I know what is wheat flour in Mandarin called.

    3. Hi Veronica,

      I know this recipe from Cheah. Good to know that the bun skin is good too with rice bran oil :D


    4. 你家的包子捏得好漂亮。 very good 。。 yummy

    5. Thanks for the link-up, Veronica. Just wondering how do you prove the dough in the winter?

      1. Hi Cheah, during colder days, have to proof longer or placed it near the stove. However proofing bao dough is much quicker than bread dough. Thanks for the recipe, Cheah.

    6. I haven't made these in ages but I like making them because then I can add lots of filling which is really my favourite part :D

    7. Wow the texture looks so soft and fluffy! I've been wanting to make these for a long time....but a bit lazy, until now! These look so tempting!

    8. Lovely charsiew baos u hv gotten here...absolutely gorgeous!!! I hv yet to master the skills of pleating up the baos...i would try yr recipe someday, tks for sharing :)

      1. Haha I can't pleat nicely either, as long as the bao can keep the filling inside, I am happy.

    9. May I know where can I buy chinese rose wine. I stay in Singapore. Thank you for your recipe.

      1. I got mine from Asian grocery. Maybe you can try the Chinese medical shop?

    10. Hi Veronica, your bao texture looked very soft. I have no experience making bao but would like to try your recipe. Your recipe calls for starter dough and main dough. But the instructions were only for main dough. When do we add in the starter dough? Please advise
      Thanks, Alice Chan

      1. Hi Alice, add in the starter dough at the beginning. Refer to instructions ;-)

    11. Hi Veronica,
      can i check with you if you add all of the starter dough or some starter dough(eg. how many grams) to your main dough?
      Thanks, Alice Chan

      1. Hi Alice, I put in ALL of the starter dough to the main dough. Please let me know how your baos turn out, okay? Enjoy making your bao ;)

    12. I love bao, char siew bao or da bao, all I like

    13. Going to make this this weekend! Yum

    14. Hello,
      to clarify, is “Hong Kong Pao Flour” (posted picture of flour’s bag above) the same as “Wheat Starch” ?
      I still can’t find “HK flour “ in my area yet, gettng frustrated.


      1. Hi Cece, sorry for the late reply. To answer your question, HK bao flour is not wheat starch. If you still can't find bao flour, maybe you would like to try this recipe which uses plain flour and wheat starch.


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