This first appeared on Sift & Simmer in February 2017. Updated April 2023.
Sheng Jian Bao is a Shanghainese mini pan-fried bun filled with a mixture of ground pork. The savory meat filling is wrapped with a fluffy yeasted dough, which is steamed and pan-fried until slightly crisp and golden brown.
What is sheng jian bao?
Sheng jian bao are Shanghai pan-fried pork buns, originating from Suzhou, China.
It's similar to Xiao long bao (XLB), which are Chinese soup dumplings made with a thin wrapper dough.
Sheng jian bao contains a fluffy, leavened dough that wraps around the filling.
What are the differences between sheng jian bao & xiao long bao?
There are 2 main differences between sheng jian bao and xiao long bao (XLB):
- soup: sheng jian bao doesn't contain as much soup (gelatin/pork fat) and compared to XLB
- skin/dough: sheng jian bao dough is much thicker and fluffier than XLB
Ingredients you'll need
For these pan-fried pork buns, you'll need:
- lean ground pork: or you can use any other ground meat, such as ground chicken, or a combination of ground pork and shrimp/prawn, or crab
- veggies: a combination of Napa cabbage, leeks, cilantro, green onions, Chinese/shiitake mushrooms (optional)
- aromatics: minced ginger, garlic, scallions/green onions
- seasonings: soy sauce, salt, black or white pepper, sugar, cornstarch, sesame oil
- bao flour: is a special mix of flour used for making steamed buns and dumplings; you can substitute with a mixture of regular all-purpose flour and cornstarch
- lukewarm water
- active dry yeast: or you can use instant yeast if you have that hand; just reduce the amount by ¼
- vegetable oil
- green onions/scallions/spring onions: chopped
- white or black sesame seeds
- Chinese black vinegar: Chinkiang black vinegar is a Chinese rice black vinegar used commonly as a dipping sauce for dumplings
- soy sauce
- granulated sugar
- sesame oil
- ginger: thinly sliced
How to make Chinese pan-fried pork buns
Prepare the meat filling ahead of time and place it in the fridge while you work on the bun dough.
Make the dough and divide into small rounds.
Flatten each disc with a rolling pin.
Then, take a heaped teaspoon of the filing mixture and place it in the center of the dough.
Pleat the seams of the dough and repeat with the remainder.
Next, place the buns into a large frying pan coated with some vegetable oil.
Pan-fry the sheng jian bao
Place the buns in an oiled frying pan. (Be sure not to overcrowd the pan -- you may need to work in batches).
Pan-fry the buns over medium heat for about 2 minutes, until golden.
Pour about ½ C of water into the pan, cover with a lid and steam for about 5 minutes, or until the meat filling is fully cooked.
Remove the lid and let the remaining water evaporate.
Continue to pan-fry the pork buns, until slightly puffy and the bottoms are golden and crisp.
How to serve & store
Serve the pan-fried pork buns piping hot with a side of Chinkiang black vinegar dipping sauce and chili oil if you like.
In China, you can eat sheng jian bao for breakfast or as a snack.
Store any leftover pork buns in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.
You can freeze the raw pork buns (before pan-frying) in an airtight freezer-safe container for up to 3 months.
Change up the filling and use what you like; omit the veggies if you prefer more meat in the dumpling.
Note: the photos from this particular batch consist of more green veggies, which make the filling appear more green.
You can make 9-10 larger sheng jian bao (approximately hockey puck-size) and pan-fry both sides.
Other recipes you may like
Be sure to check out these other recipes:
Let me know if you try out this recipe -- tag me on Instagram @siftandsimmer or leave me a comment/rating below!
Sheng Jian Bao (生煎包) (Chinese Pan-Fried Pork Buns)
For accuracy and precision in baking recipes, use weight (metric) measurements when available.
Vegetables (if using):
- 1 C Napa cabbage chopped
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt
- 2-3 shiitake mushrooms soaked overnight and chopped (optional)
- ¼ C leeks chopped (optional)
Pork meat filling:
- 1 lb lean ground pork
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tsp Shaoxing wine
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1 green onion chopped
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon ginger finely minced
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 180 g bao flour
- 3 g active dry yeast
- 125 ml warm water
- 15 g granulated sugar
- 5 ml vegetable oil
Black vinegar dipping sauce:
- 3 tablespoon black vinegar Chinkiang
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- ginger finely julienned
For cooking the buns:
- 1-2 tablespoon vegetable oil
- hot water
- green onion chopped
- black (or white) sesame seeds
For key visual process photos, refer to the body of the blog post.
Prepare vegetables (if using):
- Place Napa cabbage into a colander and sprinkle 1 teaspoon coarse salt over the top.
- Massage the cabbage for 10 seconds and set aside to drain for about 10 minutes. This is to remove any excess moisture so that the buns do not get soggy.
- After 10 minutes, squeeze the cabbage with your hands and drain away remaining liquid.
- Place the cabbage, mushrooms and leeks (if using) into a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Remove and place mixture into a large mixing bowl.
Prepare pork meat filling:
- Into a stand mixer bowl fitted with a paddle attachment, add the finely chopped cabbage, mushrooms, and leeks, ground pork, soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, salt, black pepper, sesame oil, sugar, green onion, garlic, ginger and cornstarch.
- Mix all of the ingredients together in one direction until long protein strands appear.
- Place meat mixture into fridge for 20 minutes, or overnight.
Prepare the dough:
- In a bowl, combine yeast, sugar and warm water. Give it a mix and let the yeast activate, a few minutes.
- When the yeast is activated and bubbly, add in flour and salt.
- Knead until the dough comes together. Add in vegetable oil and continue to knead until smooth.
- Turn out dough onto a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and leave in a warm location until almost doubled in size.
- Once dough has risen, gently deflate and move it over to a workspace dusted with bao flour.
- Divide the dough into 4 quarters and from each quarter, roll it into a log and cut out equal 6 portions. Repeat with the remaining dough.
- Roll each piece of dough into a ball and flatten with your palm.
- Use a rolling pin to roll the dough out into a circle about 3" wide. Place 1 heaped teaspoon of meat filling into the centre of the dough and pinch and pleat around the dough to seal.
- Place the finished buns onto a lightly greased plate or baking sheet land cover lightly with plastic wrap. Repeat with the remaining dough and meat.
Make the black vinegar dipping sauce:
- In a bowl, stir all the ingredients together. Set aside.
Pan-fry the pork buns:
- Heat a large frying pan with a little bit of vegetable oil over medium heat and place the buns in. Ensure that you leave some space in between the buns for them to expand a little. (You may need to cook in batches, depending on how large your pan is).
- Briefly pan-fry the buns until they are slightly brown, approximately 2 minutes.
- Next, add about ½ C of boiling hot water to the pan and cover with a lid to steam the buns for about 5 minutes, until the meat is fully cooked and the water has evaporated.
- Remove the lid to let any remaining water evaporate and let the bottoms of the buns crisp up slightly and turn golden brown.
- Remove and garnish with sesame seeds and chopped green onions.
- Serve immediately, with black vinegar dipping sauce.
The nutritional information provided should be considered as approximate and is not guaranteed. Please use your best judgment to ensure food is safely prepared and/or a good fit for your diet.