Char Siu Bao (BBQ Pork Bun)

This recipe is a special one, because it was made in collaboration with one of my favorite cooks out there: Jacob ( Jacob and I share a big passion for cooking, particularly when it comes to Asian flavors, so we quickly decided we were going to make steamed buns. Creating this recipe was a fun process, so we hope that you can all enjoy them as much as we did (I would be lying if I said we didn’t eat quite a few of these along the way).

Steamed buns are delicious and a lot of fun to do. They are wonderfully soft, with the right amount of chewiness and you can fill them with either savory or sweet fillings. Ideally both.

Jacob came up with an amazing Jasmine Custard filling and trust me, it’s really incredible. You will want to make it. I decided to go the savory route, with a more traditional Char Siu (BBQ Pork) filling, adding some vegetables for more texture and complexity.

So today we have a double suggestion for you: make this steamed bun dough, then a Char Siu filling for main, and Jacob’s Jasmine Custard for dessert. It’s a great suggestion for dinner with friends and you will have a main course and dessert in one go.

Head over to Jacob’s recipe for Jasmine Custard Buns HERE



DoughPreparation time: 15 min | Proofing time: 60 min | Serves: 12 buns

Filling: Preparation Time: 15 min | Cooking Time: 35min | Marinating Time: 30min-24h |


What you’ll need:

For the dough

  • 180ml whole milk
  • 1 sachet of fast-action yeast (about 2 and 1/2 tsp)
  • 250g plain flour
  • 50g rice flour
  • 50g sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil

For the filling

  • 1/3 cup Hoisin sauce
  • 2 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 2 Tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 5 garlic cloves, grated
  • Small piece of ginger, grated
  • 1/2 tsp Chinese allspice
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 400-450g pork belly, sliced
  • One handful of chopped cabbage
  • One handful of thinly chopped carrot
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced




  • Start by adding the yeast to the milk, along with the sugar and combine them.
  • Add both flours, baking powder, the pinch of salt to a big mixing bowl.
  • Now pour the milk with the yeast, as well as the oil, onto the flour mixture, combining everything with a spoon or a spatula until you achieve a dough.
  • Take the dough out and knead it for about 10 minutes on a clean flat surface.
  • Wash the mixing bowl (or use a new one) and lightly grease it with some oil. Return the kneaded dough to the bowl and let it proof, covered in clingfilm, for about an hour until it doubles its size.




  • Start by slicing your pork belly into small strips, but not too thinly.
  • Now prepare a marinade by mixing together the Hoisin sauce, rice vinegar, honey, sugar, soy sauce, grated garlic and ginger, allspice, red pepper flakes and sesame oil. Pour the marinade over your pork belly slices and let it marinate for at least 30 minutes. As usual, the longer the better, but if you’re in a rush, half an hour to an hour will do. If this is the case, preheat your oven to 200ºC now.
  • Once the pork has been sufficiently marinated, line a baking tray with some foil. Place the pork belly slices on top and roast them for 30-40 minutes. Save the marinade for the next step.
  • Now that your pork has cooked, shred it using a fork and a sharp knife. Ideally you want to have small pieces of meat.
  • Add some oil to a wok or frying pan and add the chopped green onions, sautéeing them for 5 minutes or so. Then add your cabbage and carrots, letting them cook until they start to soften.
  • Now you can add the pork and combine everything together.
  • Finally, add the leftover marinade to the frying pan and let it thicken up along with the rest of the ingredients, for about 5 minutes or so.
  • Your filling is done!



Making the buns

  • Now comes the fun part. Your dough is done and the filling is done, all you have to do is make the buns.
  • Before anything else, put a pot with water on the stove and let it boil. Keep in mind that this pot will have to be able to accommodate your steaming basket.
  • To do the buns, start by dividing the dough in half.
  • Working on a lightly floured flat surface, roll each half into a cylinder and make 6 balls (roughly the size of golf balls). You will end up with 12 balls and you can either use them all for this filling or head over to Jacob’s recipe and use 6 of them for sweet ones with Jasmine Custard.
  • Take each ball and flatten it with a rolling pin. You should have a circle with about 12cm of diameter. Work the rolling pin on the edges, moving the dough with your hands, so that the center is slightly thicker than the rim.
  • Now place the disk in your palm and spoon about 1 and 1/2 tsp of filling onto the center of each one. Using your thumb and your index fingers, pull the dough up and start pinching it, slightly twisting the dough as you go. You can either leave it open or closed, it’s up to you.
  • Cut some squares of parchment paper, then place them in a steaming basket with the buns on top. This is important as the buns can be sticky and you want to be able to remove them easily.



  • Place your steaming basket, with the buns, over the pot of boiling water. Steam for 10 minutes.


  • And you are all done (You might end up with some leftover filling, but you can always have it later, of course!)

  • Enjoy!


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