Char Siu Bao (BBQ Pork Buns)

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Since Chris (er, I mean, us) didn’t get his (our) Char Siu Bao fix at dim sum last weekend, I decided to whip some up with the leftover shredded pork I had. ‘Char Siu Bao’ means ‘BBQ Pork Bun’, is usually steamed or baked, and generally served at dim sum. These are the steamed versions. Lemme warn you, it’ll be a little time consuming. But I did just spoil you with easy Chocolate Mousse in a blender that required no effort. So now I’ll throw you back into reality and make something from scratch that requires a bit of effort. The pulled pork I’m using needs to be made beforehand. I decided to use pulled pork because, well, that’s what I had. Typically you can use pork diced into small pieces, and mixed with a Chinese BBQ (Char Siu) sauce. I’ll post a recipe for the shredded pork though, since that’s what I made. And it is very similar to my Pulled Pork recipe. The pulled pork in itself is very time consuming so I’ll post 2 variations. 

Of course, neither variation has anything to do with roasting, since I have yet to actually roast Char Siu the way it’s supposed to be made. 

Leave it to me to find multiple, alternate routes for no particular reason…. 

Char Siu Bao (makes 24 buns) 

printable recipe 

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BBQ Pork Ingredients Crock pot Variation: 

  • 2 lb. Pork shoulder (pork butt)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup Ginger Ale
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 3 Tbsp crushed garlic
  • 2 drops red food coloring (optional)
  • 1/3 cup sugar

Directions: 

1) In a crockpot, add entire pork shoulder (no need to cut into pieces), 1 chopped onion, and 1/2 cup ginger ale. Cover and cook on low for 8-12 hours. Take out meat and shred with forks. Discard juices in crock pot. Put meat back into crock pot, add soy sauce, water, garlic, food coloring, sugar. Simmer on low for another 3-4 hours, or when sauce has thickened to thick syrup. Set aside to cool, refrigerate until ready to use. 

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BBQ Pork Ingredients Wok Variation: 

  • 2 lb. Pork shoulder (pork butt)
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 3 Tbsp crushed garlic
  • 2 drops red food coloring (optional)
  • 1/3 cup sugar

Directions: 

1) In a large bowl, combine soy sauce, water, garlic, food coloring and sugar. Make sure the pork shoulder is thin enough to be fully immersed in the marinade, but keep it in as large of chunks as possible. Picture here. Marinade for 4 hours in the refrigerator. 

2) Pour marinade into a wok, bring to a boil then add meat. Boil for 2 minutes, turn heat down to simmer on low for about 45 minutes or until sauce has reduced to a thick syrup. Let cool, dice into small pieces and mix thoroughly with remaining syrup. Set aside to cool, refrigerate until ready to use. 

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Dough Ingredients: 

  • 1 packet of dried yeast
  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 4 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 2 Tbsp. sesame oil

Steaming equipment: 

  • 24 small squares of parchment or wax paper
  • Wok with steamer

Char Siu Bao Directions (partially adapted from Chinesefood.about.com) : 

1) Dissolve yeast in lukewarm water. Add 1 cup of flour. Mix thoroughly. Cover with cloth. Let rise 1 hour, until bubbles appear. 

2) Dissolve sugar and vegetable oil in 1/2 cup boiling water. Stir well. Cool until lukewarm. Pour into yeast mixture. Add 3 1/2 cups flour. 

3) Knead dough on lightly floured board until smooth. Put into extra large, greased bowl in a warm place. Cover with damp cloth. Let rise until double in bulk, about 2 hours. 

4) Divide into 2 portions. Remove first portion and knead 2 minutes. Repeat with second. Roll each into roll 12 inches long and 2 inches wide. Cut into 12 pieces (24 total). 

5) Flatten each piece with palm of hand. Roll with rolling pin into 3 inch circles. 

6) Place a spoonful of pork in center of dough. Pinch ends together (pinch in half first, then pinch other ends together, etc.) until entire bun is sealed shut. Brush sesame oil on bottom of bun, plop onto a square of wax paper. Place in steamer or plate for steaming. 

7) Steam in a wok for 10-12 minutes until buns have puffed up. Set aside to cool for a couple minutes, serve warm. Repeat process until all the buns have steamed. 

8) To store, place cooled buns into a single layer (don’t overlap) in large zip lock bags. Freeze. 

9) To reheat: Steam in a steamer for 10-12 minutes. 

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Dissolve yeast in lukewarm water. I had a hard time figuring out what lukewarm meant. So I guestimated it was a little cooler than body temperature. Just stick your finger into the water. It worked. 

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Add 1 cup of flour. Mix thoroughly. 

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Cover with cloth. Let rise 1 hour, until bubbles appear. 

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Dissolve sugar and vegetable oil in 1/2 cup boiling water. Stir well. Cool until lukewarm. 

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Pour into yeast mixture. Add 3 1/2 cups flour. 

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Knead dough on lightly floured board until smooth. Put into extra large, greased bowl in a warm place. Cover with damp cloth. Let rise until double in bulk, about 2 hours. 

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Divide into 2 portions. Remove first portion and knead 2 minutes. Repeat with second. Roll each into roll 12 inches long and 2 inches wide. Cut into 12 pieces (24 total). 

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Flatten each piece with palm of hand. Roll with rolling pin into 3 inch circles. 

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Place a spoonful of pork in center of dough. Pinch ends together (pinch in half first, then pinch other ends together, etc.) until entire bun is sealed shut. Brush sesame oil on bottom of bun, plop onto a square of wax paper. Place in steamer or plate for steaming. 

Sorry my bun is the saddest looking bun on the planet. I didn’t even seal the ends shut. 

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Oh geez, how embarrassing is this? Look away! 

Steam in a wok for 10-12 minutes until buns have puffed up. Set aside to cool for a couple minutes, serve warm. Repeat process until all the buns have steamed. 

The steamed finished product is the photo below. 

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This is what the insides look like. The buns in the blurred background look really good thanks to a really shallow depth of field. I could’ve just shown you this picture and only this picture. 

But I’m beginning to think you guys enjoy seeing my hardships, right? Yea, I thought so. 

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This is another attempt to make it look more pretty. Apparently I failed again. But your belly won’t notice or care what it looks like…right? 

Bah. 

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I will be attempting these again, one day…overall they tasted pretty good. 

Enjoy!! :)

17 Thoughts on “Char Siu Bao (BBQ Pork Buns)

  1. must…have…these…soon…SO…GOOD

  2. take a deep breath there, hehe. How are the doggies doing btw?

  3. Oh my God! I yearn for these!

  4. I love char siu pao. One of the best Chinese dim sum. Looks awesome here, esp the filling.

  5. April in CT on September 11, 2009 at 12:25 pm said:

    I’ve never had these and THAT is a shame. I love stuff like this…YUM!

  6. Oh my God, those look delicious! I’m a sucker for pulled pork, not to mention that I absolutely love dumplings… problem is they do require a lot of work… maybe over the weekend. If it rains =)

  7. Hummingbird – I’m glad I caused you to order them for your lunch today! Haha..

    MaryMoh – Thank you for the comment!

    April – You should really try these! I’m almost considering buying some pre-made pizza dough at the supermarket and seeing if that works with this recipe…in which case, time-saving shortcut!!

    Chiara – They do require a lot of work. I’m working on shortcuts…this was my one weekly time consuming recipe.

  8. Oooh! I definitely want to try this. There’s a delicious restaurant in Chicago that I always get baos from, and I’ve wondered if I could try to recreate them :)

  9. Delicious. We love char siu pork, make this regularly and we often have it with pancakes instead of peking duck. My kinda food.

  10. Oh my. You’re killing me with these. My husband and daughter LOVE pork buns. I may have to give this a shot. Even if it may take forever. It looks worth it :)

  11. One of my all time favorite dimsum.

  12. I am sooo excited that you posted this. I’ve had these once in Seattle 6 years ago and have been craving them ever since. I am definitely going to be making this soon!!

  13. Annie – Lemme know how it turns out! :)

    Debs – I’d like to have this with pancakes, since I still have extra pork. What a good idea!

    Momisodes – My husband loves these too. They actually aren’t my favorite thing in the world, but he waits for them every time the dim sum cart comes around…haha

    Divina – That’s great!

    Diana – Lemme know how they turn out! 6 years is a long time to crave something… :)

  14. I had a similar dimsum here in London on day in a restaurant but it doesn’t look as good as yours!

  15. Irish pirate on September 14, 2009 at 5:55 am said:

    Ha ha…I am calm, they just look so tasty! The dogs are doing well; the puppy is very needy, but he has a great personality :)

  16. A great recipe. Thought I’d share one potential tweak. I use Maraschino cherry juice from the jar instead of the food coloring and sugar. As I understand it, this is often what they use in Chinese restaurants for Char Siu and Chinese spare ribs.

  17. Pingback: Chinese New Year’s – Steamed Pork Buns

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