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Steamed Bao/Baozi - Roast Pork - Char Siu

Best right out of the steamer these pillowy steamed baos hide a juicy roast pork char siu filling. It is savory and sweet with the added bonus of "gravy", just like they made in Chinatown, NY. Perfect for snacking or a quick breakfast!

If you have time, make your own char siu. Then you can control the ingredients and make it your own. Afterwards, use some of it to make into char siu baos. Best right out of the steamer but you can freeze them and just take them out and re-steam for a quick grab-and-go breakfast or snack.

When I was a kid I preferred the baked version of char siu bao. It was shiny and glistening with a honey egg wash. The dough was soft and sweet and when you bit into it your mouth would fill with juicy roast pork, fat and oniony bits and gravy. I still love it but prefer the steamed version probably because my taste favors the slightly less sweet and plainer dough. Both amazing, just changing taste buds.

Char Siu Roast Pork Steamed Baos/Baozi

Ingredients (makes 15)


1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast

3 Tablespoons sugar

3 cups all purpose unbleached flour (or bleached all purpose flour for whiter dough)

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup warm water

1 Tablespoon butter, cut into small cubes

1/2 teaspoon baking powder (be careful NOT to use baking soda by mistake)


2 Tablespoons vegetable oil

1 medium onion, (about 1 cup, chopped into 1/3" pieces

1 lb char siu, chopped into 1/3" pieces

3 Tablespoons soy sauce

3 Tablespoons hoisin sauce

2 Tablespoons rice wine

1-2 Tablespoons honey

2 Tablespoons cornstarch

1/3 cup water

1 teaspoon salt


small wooden rolling pin

parchment paper



I like to give the yeast a little head start. In a small bowl add the yeast, 1 Tablespoon of sugar and 1/4 cup of warm water (110°F is best but don't go hotter - should feel warm on the back of your hand). Let sit to start blooming while you get your other ingredients together.

In a large mixing bowl, add flour, milk, other 1/4 cup of warm water, butter and baking powder. Stir with a silicone spatula or in the bowl of a mixer using the paddle attachment. Add the yeast mixture, which should now be slightly bubbly. Mix with spatula or paddle attachment until you get a shaggy looking dough. Then switch to kneading by hand or using the dough hook. Knead for 8-10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. If it feels dry and dense, add a tablespoon of water at a time and wait till incorporated before adding more if needed. Dough should feel soft like play dough. If it looks too wet continue to knead a couple minutes to give the flour a chance to absorb the extra moisture. If still wet and sticky, add 1 tablespoon of flour at a time to incorporate.

When the dough is ready, gather into a smooth ball and place in a greased bowl. Spray top lightly with a cooking spray and cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap. Place in a warm dark place like your oven (but don't turn on your oven!). Let sit to proof until doubled in size (1 hour).

Prepare filling. Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add chopped onions and stir for 1-2 minutes until onions start to become translucent. Add chopped char siu. Stir for 1 minute then add soy sauce, rice wine, hoisin and honey. Stir and let cook while you make a slurry from mixing the cornstarch and water. Add slurry to the char siu mixture and stir. Mixture should thicken when it comes back up to a boil. If it is too thick, add a few tablespoons more of water. Remove from heat to let cool.

After 1 hour, remove dough, punch down and knead gently back into a ball. Now it's ready to divide and shape as you wish! Use your thumb to poke a hole in the middle of the ball to form a doughnut shape and gently pull and stretch the "doughnut" until you get a consistent thickness. Cut the doughnut and gently roll the log on a lightly floured surface. Cut into 15 equal pieces. If you want to be exact, use a kitchen scale. Dough should weigh about 800 g, so each piece should weigh about 53 g. Cover cut pieces with a damp cloth.

Working with one piece at at time take one piece and place on lightly floured surface. Lightly flour your rolling pin. Rolling with the end of the rolling pin is easiest and quickest. You will use a constant motion of rolling forward and back with one hand and the other hand will rotate the piece of dough. Roll firmly to get a round shape where edges are thinner than the middle until you get a round about 4" in diameter. Roll all of your dough before filling. Keep covered with a damp cloth so they don't dry out.

Fill the bao with 2 tablespoons of cooled char siu filling. Use one hand to hold the dough and the thumb to both keep filling in and to lift the dough edge for the fingers on the other hand to make pleats and keep all the pleats pinched and together. Best way to describe it is to make a stack of overlapping pleats. Keep rotating the bao until you have overlapped all of the pleats. At the end, tuck in that stack of pleats and pull out your thumb and give it a pinch close. It'll kind of look like a belly button. Place on a tray lined with parchment paper to rest while you fill the rest. Get water boiling in a steamer. Steam for 10-12 minutes, leaving at least 1" between each bao as they will expand. Enjoy!!

Pro tip: If you are making multiple batches (doubling or tripling this recipe) you will need to increase the amount of water slightly to maintain the correct pliability of the dough. It should always feel like play dough that bounces back, not dense and dry and not sticky.

Tip: If you are filling a batch of baos with more than one filling, don't forget to wrap the baos differently so you know which is which.

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