Sunday, July 29, 2012

Homemade Char Siew Bao (叉烧包)

The past few days were really warm and sunny days perfect for making breads and buns. It is really rare to see such nice summer weather in Belgium, most of the time we are faced with an unpredictable, rainy and windy weather year in year out. Then all of a sudden, the weather god up there seemed to have heard all our pleas and took pity on us and decided to bestow us a few good days of sun. Only 3 or 4 good days, while stocks last. :)

Anyway, I decided to steam some char siew bao (or char siu pau) using the leftover home-made char siew which I kept in the freezer 2 weeks ago. This time round, I decided to divert from my basic bao recipe and use another recipe for the bao dough. 

As I look back at last year's pictures of my humongous steamed meat buns, I realised I have not improved much in my pleating. Yes, this time I managed to close the top for most of my char siew baos, but still they looked pretty ugly. 

Ugly but delicious. My hubby said they tasted almost the same as those served in the chinese dim sum restaurant in Antwerp Chinatown. He is my biggest supporter, and he alone gobbled up 10 out of 18 char siew baos for dinner. I ate only 5 and my stomach was already bursting at the seams, and I couldn't sleep that night because it was too hot and my stomach was too full. :-)

Here is the recipe, adapted from Yochana's blog. Makes about 17 to 18 char siew baos.

Ingredients (Fillings)
250g char siew, chopped
1 onion or 2 shallots, chopped
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp light soya sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
150ml water + 1.5 tbsp corn starch
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp castor sugar
1-2 tbsp oil for frying 

Method (Fillings)
1. Heat up a wok and add in 1-2 tbsp oil for frying. Add in chopped onion or shallots, followed by  chopped  char siew, oyster sauce, light soya sauce and sesame oil. Season with salt and sugar.

2. Fry for 1-2 min, then add in the cornstarch solution and continue to stir until it thickens. Remove from heat and set the char siew aside to be cooled.

Ingredients (Bao Dough)
300g bao flour *
60g castor sugar
2 tsp instant yeast
2 tsp double action baking powder
35g corn oil *
120ml water

* Original recipe used hong kong flour and shortening. 

Method (Bao Dough)
1. Sieve the bao flour and double-action baking powder together. 

2. Add the flour, baking powder, sugar, yeast and oil into the mixing bowl of the bread machine, and start the dough-kneading function. After a few seconds, add in water and let the bread machine knead for about 10-15 min. If you do not have a bread machine, you can knead with a cake mixer with a dough hook or even with your own hands until a non-sticky dough is formed, about 15 min.

3. Remove dough from bread machine or cake mixer and let it proof for 30 minutes in a big bowl covered with clingwrap or kitchen towel. You do not have to wait till the dough is doubled in size, 30 min will do.

4. Weigh and divide the dough into pieces of 30 grams each. This will yield 17 to 18 pieces. Sprinkle some flour onto the table top and rolling pin and roll out each dough into a small circle. The corners of the circle should be thinner than the centre.

5. Scoop about 1 small spoonful of char siew fillings into the dough, pleat it and seal it tightly. Prepare 18 square pieces of greaseproof/baking paper. Place each char siew bao onto each piece of greaseproof paper and leave it to proof for another 30 min. 

6. In the meantime, prepare a bamboo or aluminium stacked steamer over high heat.

7. Once the baos have finished proofing, steam them over high heat for 10 min.

Note : 
- If you use vegetable oil instead of shortening like what I did, the skin of your baos will turn out to be a bit yellow instead of white, but the quality and taste remains the same. 
- If you do not have bao flour, hong kong flour or any low gluten flour, you may use plain flour which is not really recommended as it has higher gluten level, and hence will not yield the best results.

This post has been submitted to YeastSpotting.


  1. Nice white buns :D
    Hard to find bun flour here in UK - supermarket flour makes yellow buns :( also heavy and not fluffy.
    Incidentally, Char Siu Buns are supposed to be be "open Flower" as in kind of sealed but also opening up like a crater at the top.

  2. Hi Plumleaf,

    My buns were not entirely white, actually they have a yellowish tint, because I used sunflower oil instead of shortening. I agree it is difficult to find HK Flour or Bao Flour in the supermart unless you make a special trip down to Chinatown. :)

    Ah, the open-flower char siew buns, that's supposed to be another recipe which is on my to-do list. I have even even seen one recipe which is a 3-day fermented bun dough!

  3. Hi Ms B... not sure I can find HK Flour/Bao Flour in Oostende. Maybe I should visit Sun Wah Supermarket nearby :-) Have to write that down in my list.

  4. Hi Esef
    Welcome to my blog. If I remember correctly, we once went to the belgian coast, and there was/is a chinese supermarket called Chow Chun supermart in Oostende. It is very well-stocked with asian foodstuff, especially chinese ingredients.
    You can find its address and hopefully other supermarts in your area at this link


Thank you for dropping by my blog and taking the time to comment. All feedback and comments are greatly appreciated. Please leave your name (real or nick) if you would like me to answer a recipe question, otherwise all. anonymous questions and comments will be strictly ignored. Anonymity is one of my pet peeves. And any spam or links to adverts will be deleted. Thank you and have a nice day!

Print Button


Related Posts with Thumbnails