Extra Large Chinese Barbecue Pork Buns–Char Siu Bao (蜜汁叉烧包)



Frankly speaking, I never expect my Char Siu Bao (or barbecue pork steamed buns) were so big. It shocked me actually. I expect it to be a cute little buns like at least 50% similar to those in the dim sum restaurant. When I opened my steamer cover, the buns have increased by about almost 100%and most of the flower design became not obvious.


I roughly knew the reasons. It  could be due to the adequate proofing time and the use of double acting baking powder instead of the normal baking powder. .In addition, it is because of the weightage of the dough. While for a small Char Siu Bao, the dough shall be about 30 grams but as my hands are rather big, I have wrapped using 60 grams of dough and this is the dough that is just nice for the wrapping .


As consistent with other post, it will definitely not a bad idea to understand more about Char Siu Bao via Wikipedia:

“Cha siu bao or char siu bao is a Cantonese barbecue-pork-filled bun (baozi). The buns are filled with barbecue-flavoured cha siu pork. They are served as a type of dim sum during yum cha and are sometimes sold in Chinese bakeries。 Cha siu refers to the pork filling; the word bao simply means “bun”. Although visually similar to other types of steamed baozi, the dough of steamed cha siu bao is unique since it makes use of both yeast and baking powder as leavening.This unique mix of leavening gives the dough of cha siu bao the texture of a slightly dense, but fine soft bread.  Encased in the centre of the bun is tender, sweet, slow-roasted pork tenderloin. This cha siu is diced, and then mixed into a syrupy mixture of oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, roasted sesame seed oil, rice vinegar, shaoxing wine or dry sherry, soy sauce, sugar and corn starch.” (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cha_siu_bao


A few points can be concluded from such definition. It is leavened using both yeast and baking powder. In fact, for smiling Char Siu Bao like those in the Hong Kong Dim Sum restaurant, another ingredient is needed – ammonia bicarbonate. A type of leavening agent that will produce carbon dioxide when heated and hence giving the dough more air and a fluffier texture. Secondly, It is usually seasoned with oyster sauce, some wine, sugar, dark soya sauce. and corn starch.


Preparation is not very tough but patience is needed for the proofing the dough.The buns will have a very soft texture as a result of adequate proofing period. As for the filling, I have purposely limited the use of too many seasonings. Basically just oyster sauce and sugar. Most other ingredients can be omitted if necessary.



Serving : About 20 steamed buns depending on the size.


Dry Ingredients (A)

  • 600 grams of bao flour or Hong Kong flour or low protein flour (水仙面粉)
  • 50 grams of corn starch or potato starch (生粉或玉米粉)
  • 100 grams of castor sugar (细砂糖)
  • Pinches of salt (盐巴)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of double acting baking powder/baking powder (双重发粉或发粉)
  • 1 packet (10-11 grams) of instant dry yeast (即时酵母)
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ammonia bicarbonate (optional) (臭粉 (可免))

Wet Ingredients (B)

  • 320 grams of lukewarm water (温水)
  • 30 grams of corn oil or cooking oil (粟米油)



  • 500 grams of diced barbecue pork (叉烧)
  • 1 big onion – diced (大葱)
  • 2 tablespoons of sesame oil (麻油)
  • 3 tablespoons of castor sugar (细砂糖)
  • 3 tablespoons of Chinese cooking wine (烹饪酒)
  • 5 tablespoons of oyster sauce (耗油)
  • 2 tablespoons of dark soya sauce (not in picture) (酱油)
  • About 5 tablespoons of corn starch/potato starch with 5 tablespoons of water (5勺生粉或玉米粉加5勺的水)


  • Some cupcakes cups or square baking paper (water proof) for about 8 cm x 8 cm (纸杯或方形防水纸)




  • Put all dry ingredients (A) in a whisking bowl. Use a spoon to stir the dry ingredients and make a well in the centre. Add in the lukewarm water and oil.  Use the same spoon to roughly stir it until it form a sticky dough. Use the machine dough hook to knead the dough for another 15-20 minutes or until the dough looks smooth and leaves the side of the whisking bowl. If the dough is too wet for the kneading, add 1-2 tablespoon of flour to continue. You can also do this manually if you don’t prefer to use the machine kneading.


  • In a flat surface, dust with some flour, transfer the dough to the flat surface and knead for 3-5 minutes until the dough does not stick to your hand. Shape it into a ball, put it in a bowl. Cover with a wet towel or clingy wrap and let it prove for 30 minutes (or double in size) whenever is earlier. Note that this is a rather soft dough. As such, do add some plain flour or bao flour if it is too soft for you to handle. Once ready, divided the dough equally. Suggested dough size is from 30 grams to 60 grams.


  • While the dough is proofing, get ready the ingredients for the fillings. In the frying pan, add 4 tablespoons of cooking oil, sauté the onions until fragrant. Add in the barbecue pork and stir fry until well mixed which took about 1-2 minutes. Add in the cooking wine, oyster sauce, sesame oil, sugar, oyster sauce and dark soya sauce. Stir fry for another 2 minutes. Add in the starch solution and off the heat when the starch solution turns transparent. If it is not sticky enough, add in more starches.

  • It is best to take some filling and taste if it suits your taste buds. Note that you have to be rather high handed with your seasonings because the bun skin is rather plain in taste. Once ready, set aside for later assembly.


  • Divide the dough with your desired sizes. For standard size, it is about 30 grams of dough. However, for this illustration, I am rather uncomfortable with 30 grams and my final comfortable dough volume is about 60 grams.

  • Take a dough, shape round and flatten in a surface dusted with more plain flour or corn starch or bao flour. Put 2-3 teaspoons of filling in the centre. Seal the edges and put on a piece of cupcake cups or square baking paper. Let it proof until it is almost double in size.


  • Once the proofing time have reached, get ready a steamer full of water. Bring to boil and steam the buns in the steamer under high heat for about 12-15 minutes. Once ready, let it sit in the steamer for 5 minutes before open the cover. Best served hot as a snack item.



Not something very difficult to prepare. Remember to use the bao flour, a type of specially bleached flour for the white colour. Due to my big hand, my Char Siu Bao is also rather big.. ha-ha. I am sure all of you can handle much smaller dough than I am and come out with a cute, little, normal sized Char Siu Bao.


Hope you like the post today. Cheers and have a nice day.


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36 thoughts on “Extra Large Chinese Barbecue Pork Buns–Char Siu Bao (蜜汁叉烧包)

  1. Hi Kenneth,

    I tried to make it this morning. The filling was good but the skin was kind of yellowish. I used ready bao flour that I bought from the grocery. Not sure whether it’s low protein bleached. I suspect it could be the type of yeasts I used. ( it’s brown in colour). Should I use white yeast instead?

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  3. Hi, just followed ur recipe but my filing turn out very dry. I have already put 5 tbsp potato startch, should i change to cirnstarch nxt time?

    Also the bao can place at freezer right after 2nd proof?

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  5. Hi, I tried to make the char siew bao. The filling was just nice but after kneading with machine for quite a long while, the batter continue to stick to the sides of the mixer bowl. It becomes very sticky. Any advise what went wrong?

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  9. The a million Sifu Ken. I will try to make the paos tomorrow. Bought the flour and yeast today n will make my own char side tomorrow. Tq, Tq again.

  10. This looks really delicious, I like it big for me that is just the right size. There are no dimsums to buy near where I live here in the U.S. and I doubt if I can find the barbecue pork in the groceries. I’d love to make this at home. Can I use chicken or ground pork with this? One more thing, can this recipe be baked instead of steamed? Thank you.

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