Char Siew Bao [叉烧包]

charsiewbao
Awhile ago, I received an email from Bee - Rasa Malaysia. I have been following her blog for quite some times but never expected to be invited as a guest writer on her blog. What a big surprise and an honour to me!

What dish should I bring to Rasa Malaysia? Bee suggested char siew (Chinese barbecued pork) but since I made char siew before, we settled on char siew bao (steamed bun with char siew filling). Char Siew Bao is one of the signature dishes in dim sum restaurants around the world. This irresistible little steamed bun is soft and fluffy, filled with slightly sweetened char siew.

It is a must order item whenever we visited a dim sum restaurant. My other half loves it too, but he usually eats only a quarter of a bun. He is a small eater, would not be able to eat other dim sums if he had a char siew bao by himself. Now, I am glad that I can share this yummy bun with my 14 month-old boy. Yes, I have made him a char siew bao lover too! 

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recipe updated on 10 Jun 2011

Ingredients (makes 16 buns):

Bun
8g instant dry yeast
160ml lukewarm water
½ tsp white vinegar or lemon juice (optional)

280g low-protein flour aka hong kong flour
100g wheat starch
90g icing sugar
30g shortening or vegetable oil

10g baking powder
10ml cold water

Fillings
A
250g char siew, diced
½ tbsp cooking oil
1 tsp sugar*
1 small onion, diced
1 tbsp oyster sauce*
1 tbsp soy sauce*
1 tsp. sesame oil
1-2 drops red food colouring (optional)

B
150 ml water
1½ tbsp corn flour
Salt to taste

*Some store-bought char siew comes with sauce, use it for preparing filling. Omit sugar, oyster sauce and soy sauce.

Methods:

Fillings
  1. Heat oil in pan, sauté onion for 1 to 2 minutes. Add in all other ingredients A, stir fry for 1 minutes.
  2. Mix together water with corn flour, add mixture into the pan and stir well. Simmer until gravy is thickened.
  3. Transfer to plate and allow to cool.
  4. Divide filling into 16 portions if desired, set aside for later use.

Buns
  1. Sift together flours and icing sugar. Place sifted flour mixture in a large mixing bowl and make a well in the middle.
  2. Fill well with lukewarm water, vinegar and yeast. Use a spatula, gently stir the water to dissolve the yeast then slowly bring together flour mixture.
  3. Add in shortening or oil and knead for 10-15 minutes until soft dough is formed. It should be smooth on the surface.
  4. Cover dough with damp cloth and let it rise for 30 minutes or until it is doubled in size. I used bread maker’s dough mode to prepare my dough up to this step.
  5. Dissolve baking powder in cold water, sprinkle over dough and knead until well combined. Divide dough into 16 equal portions and flatten with a rolling pin to make a 3” circle. Then place a heap teaspoon of filling in the middle, wrap and pleat the dough to seal. Place it on a 1.5” square parchment paper, seal side up. Cover with plastic wrap and rest for 15 minutes or so.
  6. Arrange buns into a steamer, leave about 1” gab in between buns. Spray water mist over buns, and steam in a preheated steamer on high heat for 12 minutes. Remove buns from steamer and cool on rack to prevent soggy bottom.

Cook's notes:
  1. If bigger bun is desired, divide dough into 12 equal portions in step 5.
  2. There is no need to rest the dough after adding in baking powder, but if time allowed, rest it for 10 minutes or so to get fluffier buns.
  3. Adding a few drops of vinegar into steaming water will produce whiter buns, but this is optional.
  4. Steamer must be preheated otherwise bun would not rise to the volume as it should be.
  5. Spray the surface of bun with water mist helps to produce buns with smooth surface after steamed.
  6. DO NOT open the lid during the steaming process.
  7. If there are yellowish spots on the steamed buns, it means the baking powder is not fully dissolved.
charsiewbao_1
Don't like char siew? Try red bean bao or meat bao.

Comments :

41 comments to “Char Siew Bao [叉烧包]”
Anonymous said...
on 

hi,
I can't find Hong Kong flour here in the States.what can I use to replace it. your pau look so white and fluffy .my pass pau always have a yellowish tint to them.
Diane

limpepsi said...
on 

Hurray for Lydia!

Lydia said...
on 

Diane,
Some recipes called for cake flour, maybe you can try it. Adding some acid in the dough procude whiter buns... all the best!

pepsi,
It sounds like what I said to John. :D

Food For Tots said...
on 

Congrats on your featured recipe! Nice-looking pao and mouth-watering ingredients! Btw, what is the chinese translation for wheat starch?

SteamyKitchen said...
on 

Fabulous photo!

Lydia said...
on 

Food For Tots,
Wheat Starch = Tung Min Fen or Cheng Fen (澄粉), usually use in making crystal dumpling.

SteamyKitchen,
Welcome to My Kitchen and thanks for compliments.

Anonymous said...
on 

These buns look fantastic! I was wondering if you might go into more detail about the wrapping technique to create that beautiful pleating. I've always had trouble with that part of bun making and would really love some insight!

Lydia said...
on 

Anonymous,

It is hard to explain, will take some photos or video clip next time. Stay tuned.

Anonymous said...
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I tried the recipe and the taste is really great
just what I was looking for
Thanks for sharing
cloudy

Lydia said...
on 

Cloudy,
You are welcome. Appreciate your time posting feedback here.

Kikiree Khoo said...
on 

Thanks Lydia for leaving a nice comment on my blog (Khooking Time). My hubby absolutely LOVES your char sao pao recipe. It turns out so well!
I experimented 'mangkuang(jicama)+carrot+dried shrimp' pao with your bao dough recipe on last Sunday. Well, it was yummy as well! Thanks for your inspiration!

Lydia said...
on 

kikiree:
Glad that your bao making was successful. I like this recipe too, easy and always turn out nicely. Your jicama filling is similar to my mom's cai bao, she sometimes use dried radish instead of jicama. I think I will make bao again... soon, cai bao this time. :D

Kayla said...
on 

I fell in love with bao when I went to Wow Bao in Chicago. We don't have anything like that here in my smaller town so I'd like to make them! Trouble is, I've never seen Hong Kong flour or char siew. Never heard of them, actually. Anyone know where to get them here?

Jackie said...
on 

Hi! Just wanted to tell you I've been looking for a long time for a scratch Bao dough recipe and this is it! I unfortunately couldn't find Hong Kong flour, however I DID find wheat starch. Instead of Hong Kong flour I used AP flour with cornstarch. The texture is VERY similiar to what you get at restaurants! I will keep looking for HK flour as I know this is the recipe I've been looking for! Thanks so much for sharing!

Brad said...
on 

mangkuang char, interesting.
Brad

Lydia said...
on 

Kayla and Jackie,
If could not find HK flour, try using cake flour for it fine texture.

Jackie,
Thanks for the feedback and glad that you like this recipe.

PN said...
on 

hi... ur bao looks so good... i tried but my bao doesnt turn out like yours where there are some splits at the top of the bao, it makes the bao looks so nice and fluffy.. did i miss any step?

Lydia said...
on 

Hi PN,
Thanks for your feedback.
I am not very sure what was the cause, could it be baking powder?

Anonymous said...
on 

Hi Lydia,

Can i know how much is 10g baking powder? My lousy digital scale shows 2g when i weighed 1 tsp of baking powder. So 10g of baking powder equal to around 1 tbsp? I can't wait to try this recipe out. Please advise. Thanks.

Sally

Lydia said...
on 

Sally,
10g of BP = 2.174 tsp.... I used conversion feature on gourmetsleuth.com

All the best!

Anonymous said...
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The bun looks fluffy n white...i'll try this recipe in halal version!

S-tan said...
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Could you perhaps list what these measurements would be like in cups? I don't have a kitchen weighing scale but would love to try your recipe!

Julie said...
on 

Hi, I tried this recipe today. During the first kneading, I find the dough extremely crumbly. The only step I forgot to follow was mixing the yeast in the water first. I did add water to make the dough more pliable. Did you have to add water a little at a time, too? I will try the recipe again. It's the best one I've tried. Thanks for posting.

Lydia said...
on 

Hi Julie, thanks for dropped by.

There is no need to add water a little at a time. For new attempt of any bread/bun recipe (or using different brand of flour) I always reserve about 2-3 tbsp water to add in bit by bit depending on the softness of dough, maybe you can try this too.

If the dough is too hard, you add in bit more water. Btw, if you are familiar of water roux or chilled starter bread making methods, try using it in this recipe.

Happy steaming again!

cheers,
Lydia

Jane said...
on 

Hi Lydia,
I love your CharSiewBao. Couldn't wait to try asap. Just wanna know if the instant dry yeast used in the recipe is the same as active dry yeast or instant yeast?
Thanks heaps.
Jane

Lydia said...
on 

Hi Jane,

If using active dry yeast, sprinkle/mix in luke warm water and proof for about 10 minutes then make buns as usual. Instant yeast can be used without proofing in advance, add to the flour directly. Both types of yeast can be used in this recipe.

Yap said...
on 

Hi Lydia,
Many thanks for your wonderful recipe! I've one question - if I am to use all low-protein flour, i.e. 380g low-protein flour instead of 280g LP flour + 100g wheat starch, will the final product turn out fine?

Lydia said...
on 

Hi Yap,

Thanks for dropped by.
It will turn out fine too but not as fine as the one using wheat starch.

Anonymous said...
on 

Hi Lydia,

What's the difference in using oil and shortening, besides the yellowish color of the bao if using oil? Which one will make the texture nicer or softer? Thank you.

Lydia said...
on 

Good question. Shortening is a saturated fat while vegetable oil isn't so the result won't be the same.

It would not have huge impact on the yellowish colour cos amount used in not a lot. Shortening makes nicer texture buns, if in baking bread the texture will produce moist and fine texture.

Selbsy said...
on 

Hi Lydia, My making of CSP turned out to be a disaster! There are brown spots on the pau surface, and it doesn't seems to rise like yours. I used instant yeast instead of instant dry yeast, same ingredients for the rest as well as method of making, not too sure what went wrong. It didnt seems to rise to double its portion after 30mins proofing. Please advise. Thanks.

Lydia said...
on 

Hi Selbsy,
Thank you for your comment and sorry to hear abt your csp.

The yellowish/brown spots problem is caused by undissolved baking powder. The dough needs to knead well after adding in baking powder.

I really have no clue why some people succeed in their first attempt and other hit by disappointment. If you have followed the recipe closely, do try again with different brand of flour or try to adjust the amount of ingredient(s) a little bit to get the right texture. Good luck.

JR said...
on 

Hi, I am tempted to try making this pau. Do the paus need to proof again before steaming? If so, how long? Thank you.

Miss B @ Everybody Eats Well in Flanders said...
on 

Hi Lydia,

Thank you for your recipe. I made the char siew baos yesterday using cake flour instead of HK flour, the results were pretty good, the texture was soft and fluffy. My baos were a a little off white, they were nearly white but not yellowish.

Just a question, is this the recipe for HK type of smiling char siew baos? Because my char siew baos all broke into a smile, and you can see the char siew sauce oozing out after steaming. :)

Is the baking powder supposed to fizzle and become foamy in cold water? Mine did, and I had problems dissolving it, so I added a few extra drops of cold water and stirred continuously, I sprinkled the baking powder solution, give the dough a good thorough knead and let the dough rest for 10 min. Luckily there were no yellow specks on my buns.

cheers,
Miss B @ EEWIF

Lydia said...
on 

Hi Miss B,

Greeting from Kyoto!
Yes, it is HK type of char siew bao.
Based on your feedback, I think you have done a great job when adding in baking powder and glad that your baos turned out good.
Baking powder solution not fizzy but a little foamy as we stirring it.
You have just made me feel like making char siew bao today!!

Miss B @ Everybody Eats Well in Flanders said...
on 

Hi Lydia,
I finally posted my smiling char siew bao based on your recipe. Thank you once again for this great recipe!
http://everybodyeatswell.blogspot.be/2013/05/ab-31-smiling-char-siew-bao-hong-kong.html

Rose Masaki said...
on 

wheat starch in Japanese is ....?
Thank you.

Lydia said...
on 

小麦のでんぷん

donna said...
on 

I tried making the CSP today but the dough did not rise rough in size after more than 2 hours. After having them steamed, the texture was fine but kind of not fluffy like yours but more densed. What went wrong? Other than this, everything tasted superb.

Emily said...
on 

Hi Lydia. I just made some buns based on this recipe. The buns came out well risen and fluffy.Thank you for sharing this beautiful recipe.
Keep enriching your life with your talent.
BTW I will be in Japan soon for a holiday and will definitely visit Kyoto .
Kind regards.

Lydia said...
on 

Donna,
Dough didn't rise after 2 hrs means there is something wrong with the yeast. Perhaps?

Emily,
That's very encouraging, I am so not in mood to update my blog recently. Thank you for your compliments and hope you have a great trip to Kyoto. Say hi if you see me on the street. :D

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