Sheng Jian Bao is a Shanghainese mini pork-filled pan-fried bun that is the cousin of the more famous Xiao Long Bao (XLB). It features a delicious meat filling encased in a fluffy pan-fried dough.
There is a Shanghainese restaurant in Edmonton named "Shanghai 456" which my brother-in-law would frequent quite regularly for their Xiao Long Bao (小笼包) aka "XLB" and noodle dishes.
But this one time, he convinced us to go on a Sunday.
It turned out that the owners would have a special item on the menu that you couldn't order any other day of the week.
That item was Sheng Jian Bao (生煎包), also known as pan-fried pork buns.
What is sheng jian bao?
Sheng Jian Bao is a Shanghainese mini pork-filled bun.
It's similar to Xiao Long Bao (XLB), which is also another meat-filled dumpling.
Sheng jian bao contains a fluffy, leavened dough that wraps around the filling.
Differences between sheng jian bao & xiao long bao
There are 2 main differences between Sheng Jian Bao and 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.
I find that these buns are a lot more satisfying than XLB because you get more meat and bun within a small bite.
There are two components to these buns:
- ground pork: is most commonly used
- veggies: you can use cabbage, leeks, mushrooms, onions
- aromatics: ginger, garlic
The filling consists of lean ground pork, cabbage, mushrooms, and leeks. You can add whatever veggies you like, or opt for just a pork filling.
- all-purpose flour
- active dry yeast
- baking powder
The dough is primarily consists of all-purpose flour, yeast, cornstarch, sugar, milk and baking powder.
How to make them
You can make 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 centre 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.
How to cook
Line the buns in an oiled frying pan.
Pan-fry the buns over medium heat, and then steam with water.
This method ensures the bottoms of the buns are crisp and fully cooked when the water is fully evaporated.
Pan-fry the buns for a few minutes over medium heat, before adding water and covering with a lid.
How to serve & store
Serve the buns piping hot with a side of Chinkiang black vinegar dipping sauce and chili oil if you like.
Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.
You can also freeze the buns in a freezer-safe container prior to pan-frying.
Other recipes you may like
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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) - Pan-Fried Pork Buns
For accuracy and precision in baking recipes, use weight (metric) measurements when available.
- 1 lb lean ground pork
- 1 C cabbage chopped
- ¼ C shiitake mushrooms chopped (optional)
- ¼ C leeks chopped (optional)
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 green onion chopped
- 5 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon ginger finely minced
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 C plus 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 1 ¼ teaspoon dry yeast
- ½ cup warm milk
- 3 tablespoon warm water
- 3 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon oil
Black Vinegar Sauce:
- 3 tablespoon black vinegar Chinkiang
- ¼ teaspoon ginger finely julienned
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- green onion chopped
- black or white sesame seeds
- Place 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.
- To the finely chopped cabbage, mushrooms, and leeks, add ground pork, garlic, ginger and all the seasonings into a bowl. Mix all of the ingredients together in one direction only (to create long meat protein strands). Place into fridge for 20 minutes.
- Combine yeast, sugar, milk and warm water in the bottom of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Leave to proof for about 5 minutes.
- When the yeast has been activated (bubbly), add flour, cornstarch, salt, baking powder, and oil.
- With the mixer running, knead the dough for about 8-10 minutes, until shiny and elastic. If the dough is too dry, add 1 T of water at a time; if it's too wet, add 1 T of flour until it is smooth.
- Turn out dough onto a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and leave in a warm place to double in size (about 1 hour).
- Once dough has risen, gently deflate and move it over to a workspace dusted with a little flour. Divide into 4 quarters and from each quarter, roll it into a log and cut out equal 6 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and flatten.
- 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 and cover lightly with plastic wrap. Repeat with the remaining dough and meat.
- Mix all ingredients together. Set aside.
- Heat a large frying pan with a little bit of 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. Briefly pan-fry the buns until they are slightly brown, approximately 2 minutes.
- Then add about ½ C of boiling 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 and turn golden brown.
- Remove and garnish with sesame seeds and chopped green onions.
- Serve immediately, with some 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.
Recipe adapted from Serious Eats.