Thursday, March 12, 2009

Char Siu Bao/BBQ Pork Bun (叉烧包)


Char Siu bao is a Cantonese saying which means BBQ Pork bun. The bun is filled with BBQ pork chunks mixed with some other seasonings like soy sauce, onion, honey, sesame seed/oil..etc. It is one of the most popular items at Dim Sum (Chinese light dishes) restaurant, and you may find it either steamed or baked.


The typical steamed BBQ pork bun will have a "cracked and smiled" skin. So making the dough for this bun is different than any other bun. The techniques of folding and sealing the skin are important to make your bun cracked and smiled. Secondly, the skin edge must be thicker than the middle while you roll the dough, so it will leave extra dough for the bun to crack and smile. Last, keep the sealing edge oil-free and clean from the pork filling.


The ingredients for the skin (18~20 petite buns) :

1. 4g instant yeast
2. 70g water

1. 140g cake flour (低筋面粉)
2. 60g wheat starch (澄面粉 - normally used for cai kuih skin)
3. 60g sugar
4. 20g oil

1. 7g baking powder
2. 10g water

BBQ pork filling ingredients below are for your reference, you may adjust the amount according to your personal liking.

1. 120g BBQ pork chunks (see recipe for BBQ Pork)
2. 1 tsp sesame oil
3. 1/2 tsp fresh grated ginger
4. 1/4 cup finely chopped green onion
5. 1/2 tsp oyster sauce
6. 1 tsp soy sauce
7. 1 tsp hoisin sauce
8. a pinch of five spices powder
9. a pinch of white pepper
10. 1 tsp honey
11. 1 tsp corn starch
12. some roasted sesame seed

Methods :

1. Mix the yeast in the water.
2. Slowly add in the yeast water into ingredient B, knead to mix well. Let the dough rest for 90 minutes. The dough will be a bit dry at this stage, don't worry, there will be another 10g water to be added in C.
3. After 90 minutes, mix the baking powder in 10g water. Then slowly add into the rested dough. Meanwhile, knead the dough to mix well. Rest for another 20 minutes
4. Divide the dough into 25g balls (for petite size bun).
5. Dust your working surface, hands and rolling pin with some flour.
7. Roll the ball to a 1.5" diameter skin (the middle should be thinner than the edge).
5. Spoon the BBQ pork mixture in the middle of the skin, fold and seal with your fingers. Be careful not to let the filling touch on the edge as this will make your buns not cracked/smiled
6. Steam at high heat for 10 minutes (petite size), 12~15 minutes for bigger size.


  1. wow..too bad, my bf no eat pork one. :S

  2. tin tin.., the baos were gone to our stomach before I count how may bun I could make for this recipe. So, I just estimated 18~20pcs for petite size.

    Agnes... you can save for lunch for supper. LOL!!

  3. Hi, I love making cha siu bao - everytime I make it, the dough texture comes out pretty good, but the one vice is that it never smiles =( . I was just wondering what is the pleating process that will make it smile - it's not the same as pleating, xiao long bao for example, is it?

    Thanks a bunch!

  4. Hi Anonymous, there are 3 main factors to make your char siu bao smiling. 1. Use low gluten flour and add some wheat flour. 2. Rolling the skin and pleating - the edge of the skin has to be thicker than center, and prevent any gravy/oil of the filling touch on the edge. While pleating, try to leave the dough as much/thick as possible on the top, it will result a big smile. :-), the method of pleating xiao long bao will not make your bao smile. Last factor is steaming - you have to broil the water first, then steam in HIGH HEAT! I hope this information help!

  5. Hi, I tried doing the bao but Failed.
    The bun didnt rise up. Any idea how/ what can i do to make it rise up just like yours?

  6. xinlin, did you use the right yeast? The room temperature can be one of the factor too, can't be too cold. Also, when you steam the baos, boil the water and steam them over high heat.

  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. Hi Wendy, I ueses instant yeast for bread. I leave it to rest in the living room after kneading. And I boiled the water and steam my bun at high heat.
    But still can't get the nice bun that you have.

    I tried doing the second time, it slightly better But it took about 1 whole day for the dough to rise up a bit.

  9. XinLin, when you said it didnt rise up, did you mean the bao is not smiling? The dough can't be over-knead or risen. I did post some techniques for the skin on my second post to help the bao crack/smiling, may be you can try one more time??

    1. While adding the baking powder liquid to the dough, make sure you knead it thoroughly to avoid uneven mixture, otherwise, there will be some little brown spots on the skin. To be safe, knead at least 10 minutes.

    2. Rolling - leave the edge thicker than center for easier pleating.

    3. While pleating, avoid any oil or gravy of the filing on the edge, try to pull more dough from the edge to the top, the thicker the dough on top, the bigger the smile. :-)


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