Soft Fluffy Char Siu Bao (Chinese Steamed Pork Buns)- Juicy and sweet Chinese bbq pork (char siu) is wrapped in soft and pillowy Chinese steamed buns.
Steamed Char Siu Bao (Chinese BBQ Pork Buns) is one of our favorites in the house. My two kiddos love char siu.
When you have a good soft and fluffy steamed buns recipe on hand, you just need to make the sweet char siu filling and you are all set for steamed char siu bao.
TIPS FOR MAKING GOOD STEAMED CHAR SIU BAO
1. The buns
You can read more in detail about how to make soft and fluffy steamed buns. I use this basic steamed buns recipe in all my other steamed buns with different filling varieties.
2. The filling
The nemesis of filled steamed buns is wet filling. The wet filling will cause the steamed buns to wrinkle and also creates some burn spots. The filling in this recipe is thickened with flour so it’s easier when you wrap and the buns whole its shape when being steamed.
3. Let the dough rise once
This recipe requires that you proof the buns only once.
HOW TO MAKE GOOD CHAR SIU FILLING
Making char siu filling is really easy. You can either use homemade char siu or make it from scratch easily using pork or chicken meat.
The sauce used to make char siu filling is very similar to the marinade you use to make char siu: onion, hoisin sauce, oyster sauce, sugar, and cornstarch. I like to add onion because it adds extra flavor and sweetness to the filling.
WHAT MAKES CHAR SIU FILLING RED IN COLOR?
The red is really only for coloring. Red is one of the colors that is considered good or lucky for most Chinese. I use red yeast rice powder that my mom brought me from Singapore. I know some people just use red food coloring. You can totally not use any red color at all. The most important thing is the taste of the char siu itself. The color doesn’t alter the taste in anyway.
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Soft Fluffy Char Siu Bao (Chinese Steamed Pork Buns)
- 200 gr pork shoulder or pork loin dice into small pieces
- 1 small onion peeled and finely chopped
- 1 tsp red yeast rice powder optional
- 1 Tbsp cooking oil
Making the filling:
- Mix all the ingredients for sauce, except for the flour, for cooking the filling in the bowl. Set aside. Preheat your wok or skillet over high heat. Add in the oil. Add onions and saute until fragrant and soft, about 3 minutes. Add the pork and cook until the pork changes color and cooked through. Pour in the sauce and red yeast rice powder (if using)and stir to mix and cook for another 2 minutes. Sprinkle in the flour. The pork mixture will start to thicken. Have a taste and add more sugar if needed. It should be more sweet than savory. Turn off the heat and let it completely cool. Cover and refrigerate until the next day
- Once you have the basic steamed buns dough , flatten the dough with your palm and then use a rolling pin to roll it out to form a circle about 4-5 inches, with a slightly thicker middle part. This is to support the weight of the filling. Don't roll the dough too thin. If you roll the dough too thin, the filling might make the steamed buns "wrinkle" later when you steam
- FOR ROUND SHAPE: Place about 1 to 2 Tbsp of char siu filling in the middle and gather the edge to enclose into a round ball and place the seam side down. Cup the dough with both palms and move the dough in a circular motion to shape it taller. This part is important so your steamed buns come out tall instead of spreading to the side after steaming
- Place on a piece of parchment paper. Lightly dab the surface of the bun with some milk using your finger to smooth the surface. Loosely cover with a saran wrapper to prevent drying. Work with another dough and do the same
- IF YOU WANT TO PLEAT SOME PATTERNS: Place the char siu filling in the middle. Create a fold around the edge and then pinch to seal. Cup the dough with both palms and move the dough in a circular motion to shape it taller. This part is important so your steamed buns come out tall instead of spreading to the side after steaming
- Place on a piece of parchment paper. You don't need to dab the surface with milk if you have patterns. Loosely cover with a saran wrapper to prevent drying. Work with another dough and do the same
- Let the shaped buns proof until about 50% double its original size. They don't have to double in size. This may take about 15-20 minutes, but please don't go by the time, just observe to make sure the buns have puffed up to half its original size before steaming or the buns will be tough. Don't overproof them as well.
- Most likely your steamer won't be able to accommodate steaming all buns at one go. You may need to steam in 2-3 batches, which means, the rest of the batches will sit longer and continue to proof while waiting for the steamer. Not good for the buns! Here's what you can do: Make sure the cover them with plastic wrap and then place them in the refrigerator to slow down the yeast activity or halt it all together until they are ready to be steamed
- Bring water in the steamer to a boil. Lower the heat to LOW. Wrap the lid of your steamer with a kitchen towel to prevent moisture dripping on your buns creating burn spots. Place the buns inside the steamer and steam for 8 minutes
- Turn off the heat. Do not open the lid of the steamer. Let the buns sit there for 1 minute like this. The buns will not sink or wrinkle due to the sudden change in temperature
- If you make extra and plan to store them, once the steamed buns have cooled down, place them on a baking sheet not touching each other and put them inside the freezer for 1 hour then transfer to a freezer bag
- They can be reheated in the steamer without thawing. Steam over high heat for 5 minutes