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Steamed Char Siu Bao (Chinese BBQ Pork Buns)

A quintessential Chinese dim sum dish, these steamed Chinese BBQ pork buns (Char siu bao) yield a light dough with a delicious BBQ pork filling. The buns have cracks and fissures, which are characteristic of restaurant-style bbq pork buns.
Course Dim Sum
Cuisine Asian, Chinese
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 22 minutes
Resting Time 12 hours
Total Time 13 hours 22 minutes
Servings 10
Calories 173kcal
Author Michelle | Sift & Simmer


Roasted BBQ pork filling:

  • 75 g white onion diced
  • 5 g garlic (about 2 cloves) minced
  • 150 g char siu roasted BBQ pork diced
  • 2 g 5-spice powder
  • 3 ml Chinese rose wine or dry sherry
  • 7 ml hoisin sauce
  • 7 ml ketchup
  • 2 g cornstarch
  • 2 g all-purpose flour
  • 60-85 ml cold water
  • 2 ml sesame oil

For the dough:


    • 113 g cake flour
    • 2 g active dry yeast
    • 15 g granulated sugar
    • 62 g room temperature water


    • starter dough from above
    • 2 g baking ammonia dissolved in 2 tsp of water
    • 1 ml lye water
    • 60 g granulated sugar
    • 75 g cake flour
    • 40 g wheat starch
    • 10 g baking powder
    • 20 ml whole milk
    • 27 ml coconut oil or vegetable oil
    • 15 ml white vinegar

    For steaming:

    • water
    • 1 Tbsp white vinegar


    Cook the BBQ pork filling:

    • In a large frying pan, sauté the onions and garlic until translucent, about 3-4 minutes over medium heat.
    • Add in the diced BBQ pork and continue to sauté until the pork is heated through. 
    • Next, add in 5-spice powder, Chinese rose wine, hoisin sauce, and ketchup.
    • Prepare the cornstarch and flour slurry by adding 1 tsp cornstarch and 1 tsp flour into a small bowl with 4-6 Tbsp cold water. Mix with a spoon until the starch and flour dissolves.
    • Pour the cornstarch slurry into the pot and stir to coat the BBQ pork mixture. Bring to a boil and lower the heat.
    • The mixture will begin to thicken and become glossy.
    • Remove the BBQ pork filling from heat, stir in a little sesame oil, and transfer to a clean bowl. Cover with a lid and let cool.
    • Refrigerate the pork filling for at least 4-6 hours, or overnight.
    • Use a small ice cream scoop to divide the BBQ pork mixture into 10 portions, about 25-30g each.
    • Place the scoops onto a plate and chill in the fridge until just about ready to assemble. (Don't keep it at room temperature).

    Make the starter: (the night before)

    • In a small bowl, add in 113g cake flour, 2g of active dry yeast, 15g of sugar and 62g water.
    • Knead together until it forms a dough. (It will be on the drier side).
    • Cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature overnight.

    Make the dough:

    • Transfer the starter mixture from the night before in to a larger bowl.
    • Add 2g baking ammonia dissolved in 2 tsp of water + 1 ml lye water. (Be careful, it will smell!)
    • Knead in the 60g granulated sugar, until it dissolves a little.
    • Add in the cake flour, wheat starch and baking powder.
    • Add in the milk, coconut oil, and vinegar.
    • Knead until the dough comes together.
    • Cover the bowl with a plate or plastic wrap and leave it to rest for about 30 minutes in a warm location.
    • When the dough shows some bubbles and has risen a little, lightly dust the work surface with some wheat starch and divide the dough into 10 equal portions. (About 45-50g each).
    • Roll the portioned dough into a flat disc and place a scoop of char siu BBQ pork filling (about 25-30g) in the centre.
    • Gather the dough up in 3 places, forming a triangular shape (like a samosa).
    • Gently press the centre down, and gather the sides up, forming a "bulb/tulip."
    • Pinch the 3 seams together on the sides.
    • Place the bun onto a piece of parchment paper or muffin liner.
    • Repeat with the remaining dough and filling.
    • Cover the buns with some plastic wrap and leave to rest in a warm location for about 20-30 minutes.

    Steam the buns:

    • Fill a large wok or pot (that can fit a steaming rack) with water and add 1 Tbsp white vinegar to it.
    • Bring the water to a boil over high heat.
    • Once the water is vigorously boiling, place 3-4 buns onto the steaming rack and transfer it to the pot or wok.
    • Cover with a lid and ensure that any steam vents are covered (I used a wet cloth), and place a kitchen towel over the rim of the lid, to help trap in as much steam.
    • Steam the buns for 12-13 minutes, until buns have formed cracks.
    • Remove the buns and repeat with the remaining buns.
    • The buns are best served immediately, hot and steamy.



    Calories: 173kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 11mg | Sodium: 135mg | Potassium: 86mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 9IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 71mg | Iron: 1mg