Char Siu Bao (Pork Buns)

Photographer: Adam
Makes 16 Buns

When I was living in Japan I used to buy these buns from the seven eleven below my apartment. In true Japanese style in addition to the traditional Chinese fillings they came in all sorts of kooky flavours like pizza, cheese & curry and chicken and mayonnaise.  Along with a can of hot coffee they were a most reliable cure after a night out clubbing in Ropponggi. On a more recent trip to Sydney, my two year old daughter took great delight in watching highly skilled chefs throw hand stretched noodles around the kitchen and produce baskets of gorgeously delicious steamed buns formed intricately into the shape of little pink pigs!

“These buns are deliciously light and fluffy and can be filled with just about anything. When we ran out of the pork mixture we tried a couple with chocolate and medjool dates, they were really good too – so feel free to experiment with the fillings, the dough works well with both sweet and savoury flavours.

“We purchased the BBQ pork (char siu) from an Asian take-out place, which made the filling really quick and easy to make. Steamer baskets can be purchased cheaply from an Asian supermarket.”


250g char siu diced
½ tbsp cooking oil
1 onion, finely diced
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp hoisin sauce
2 tsp sesame oil

290g standard white flour (we used Hong Kong flour from the Asian supermarket)
110g wheat starch
60g icing sugar
8g instant dry yeast
160ml lukewarm water
½ tsp white vinegar or lemon juice
30g shortening or vegetable oil
10g baking powder
10ml cold water


Heat oil in pan, sauté onion for 2 minutes. Add in all other ingredients and gently fry for a couple of minutes. Set aside to cool.

1. Sift together flours and icing sugar. Place sifted flour mixture in a large mixing bowl and make a well in the middle.
2. Fill well with lukewarm water, vinegar and yeast. Use a spatula, gently stir the water to dissolve the yeast then slowly bring together flour mixture.
3. Add in the oil and knead for 10-15 minutes until soft dough is formed. It should be smooth on the surface.
4. Cover dough with damp cloth and let it rise for 30 minutes or until it is doubled in size. (I used my bread maker’s dough mode to prepare my dough up to this step.)
5. Dissolve baking powder in cold water – make sure it is really well dissolved to prevent yellow spots on the finished buns, sprinkle over dough and knead until well combined. Divide dough into 16 equal portions and flatten with a rolling pin to make a ~12cm circle. Then place a heaped teaspoon of filling in the middle, wrap and pleat the dough to seal. Place it on a ~6cm square piece of baking paper.
6. Preheat the steamer over a pot of rapidly boiling water. Spray water mist over buns, and place into the steamer basket and place the lid on for 12 minutes. Remove buns from steamer and cool on rack to prevent soggy bottom.