Cha Siu Bao – Barbequed Pork Steamed Buns

Cha Siu Bao – Barbequed Pork Steamed Buns

Being the start of the Chinese Lunar New Year, I though visitors may like to try making these very tempting treats which are made and sold throughout the world but quintessentially are a component of the traditional yum cha banquet.

Although they may appear complicated, they are actually fairly easy to make – only requiring a little time and patience. Best of all, once you learn the technique you can fill them with a wide assortment of fillings (be it savoury or sweet) and they will always taste good.


gong xi fa cai to all our Asian visitors

Makes 12 buns

Ingredients – dough

2 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
good pinch salt
1/4 cup white sugar
1 packet dried yeast (15 grams approximately)
1 teaspoons sesame oil (can substitute vegetable oil)
1/2 cup to 3/4 cup warm water

Ingredients – filling

250 grams pork (diced)
1 onion (finely chopped)
2 garlic cloves (minced)
3 cm piece of fresh ginger (minced)
1 chilli (finely chopped)
1/2 red capsicum (diced small)
1 carrot (diced small)
2 tablespoons hoi sin sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine (or sweet sherry)
1 tablespoon tomato sauce/ketchup
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon oil


1. To make the dough, mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl (other than the yeast).
2. Mix the dry yeast in 1/2 cup of warm water and allow it to foam (approximately 3 minutes).
3. Add liquid to the dry ingredients and mix to combine. If there is excess dry ingredients add an extra 1/4 cup of warm water. You need to work the dough so it is a soft pliable mass (approximately 5 minutes).
4. Add the sesame oil and mix into the dough.
5. Cover the dough with a cloth and allow to rise. Once risen, punch the dough so it flattens and knead for a minute or two, then set aside to rise for a second time.

6. While waiting for the dough to rise you can prepare the filling. Place oil in a fry pan and heat to a moderate temperature. Add pork and brown completely, then add the onion, garlic, ginger and chilli and cook until the onion begins to soften.
7. Add the capsicum and carrot and cook for 2 minutes before adding the remaining liquid ingredients as well as the pinch of salt and pepper. Turn down the heat and allow the mixture to cook and slowly soften and thicken as the liquid evaporates (approximately 10 minutes).
8. Once the filling mixture is relatively dry with no excess moisture remove from heat and allow to cool.

9. Once the dough has risen a second time turn out onto a floured board and knead for 4 or 5 minutes so it is smooth and elastic, then cut into two equal parts and roll each half into a thick sausage shape approximately 10 cm long and 4 cm in diameter.
10. Cut each sausage of dough into 6 equal portions and flatten each piece to form a flat disc. You may need to dust the dough with a little flour to prevent it sticking to your work surface.
11. Place a tablespoon of the filling mixture in the centre of the flattened disc and slowly work the edges of the dough up and over the filling to cover it completely. You can leave the ball of dough with the pleated appearance or alternatively roll it gently in your hands to make it a smooth ball shape.
12. Place on a small square of baking paper which has been brushed with a little oil and allow the dough to rise once more (approximately 20 minutes).

13. Ideally, to cook these small balls of goodness, place them in a bamboo steamer (still on their piece of paper) and steam for 20 minutes. But for those without a bamboo steamer you can use the sear and poach technique.

14. Brush the base of a large, heavy based pan with a little oil and place the risen dough balls onto the oiled surface. Heat to a moderate temperature and wait for the base of the dough balls to go a light golden colour (approximately 4 minutes).
15. Add enough water to the pan so the dumplings are submerged to their half way point, then place a lid on the pan and poach/steam for 20 minutes. The poaching water should have evaporated and the dumplings should slide freely on the surface of the pan.
16. If there is some liquid in the base of the pan, continue cooking without the lid until all the liquid has all evaporated.
17. When using the sear and poach technique it is important to not have the pan on too high a heat as the base of the dumplings will be burnt – a soft gentle heat with allows the poaching water to still boil and evaporate.

18. Serve with an assortment of asian sauces (sweet chilli, soy sauce ketchup manis) and steamed asian vegetable.