Chinese New Year: Char Siu Bao (pork buns)

I love char siu bao! In fact, I’m sitting here eating some while I type out this recipe 🙂 The soft fluffy dough and sweet pork filling make these buns one of my favourites and something I always come home with from Chinese supermarkets!

With that in mind, I decided to make some from scratch for Chinese New Year. I have to admit, when I went to get the ingredients I did buy a packet of dough mixture (so I only had to add water and oil) instead of doing that from scratch. But I’ve been cooking pretty much non-stop so decided it wasn’t cheating…too much! I’ve put the full dough recipe here though and will use it the next time I make some…which will probably be next week knowing me hehe.

Makes: 12
Preparation time: 25 minutes (plus 3 hours proving time for the dough)

2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons dried yeast
310 g (11 oz / 1 1/2 cups) plain flour (all-purpose flour)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon vegetable oil
250 g (9 oz) Chinese barbecued pork, finely chopped
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons Chinese rice wine
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon soy sauce

1. To make the dough, pour 250 ml (9 fl oz / 1 cup) of warm water into a small bowl and add the sugar. Stir for a few seconds to dissolve the sugar then add the yeast. Cover the bowl and leave for 10 minutes.

2. Sift the flour into a bowl and make a well in the center. Pour the yeast mixture and vegetable oil into the well. Quickly stir the ingredients together and turn the mixture out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead for 8 minutes, or until smooth and elastic. Brush a large bowl with the sesame oil and put the dough in the bowl, turning the dough around to coat it all with the oil. Cover the bowl and set aside to rise for at least 3 hours.

3. Lift the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Punch the dough down and flatten into a large round. Sprinkle the baking powder in the center of the circle, bringing the edges up towards the center. Firmly press the edges together, then knead the dough for a further 5 minutes. Divide the dough into 12 equal portions and roll into balls. Cover with a damp cloth to prevent them from drying out.

4. To make the filling, heat a wok over high heat, add the oil and swirl to coat. Add the pork and cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add the oyster sauce, sugar, rice wine, sesame oil and soy sauce and stir-fry for 1-2 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a bowl to cool.

5. Take each ball of dough and press it onto a lightly floured surface to form a circle 12 cm (4 1/2 inches) in diameter. Place a heaped tablespoon of the filling in the center of each dough circle, then bring the edges up to the center. Press the edges firmly together. Sit each bun on a 5 cm (2 inch) square of baking paper.

6. Place six pork buns on each layer of a double steamer (our steamer is smaller so we only had 3 on each layer) and cover with a lid. Sit the steamer over a wok or saucepan of boiling water (the steamer shouldn’t touch the water) and steam for 15 minutes.

Serve warm and enjoy! 🙂


Chinese New Year: Mushroom And Water Chestnut Steamed Buns

This is a recipe I’ve wanted to try for a while but have been saving it for Chinese New Year. Mushrooms and I have a very shaky relationship – I love them but they don’t love me. Or rather, they used to love me until I turned about 17 and then suddenly gained an allergy to them :/

So, why am I making a mushroom recipe? I like to live dangerously! Lol no, not really, I’m making it because certain mushrooms, such as shiitake and oyster mushrooms, don’t affect me. It’s weird, I know. So I’ve altered the recipe to use double the shiitake mushrooms for me, but am giving you guys the proper recipe and will then look at you enviously when you get to eat the little button joys that I dare not! You can really use any mushrooms you want in this though, so if you have trouble finding one of them, substitute a different kind that you like 🙂

Makes 24
Preparation time: 25 minutes (1 hour rest time for the dough preparation)
Cooking time: 30 minutes

600 g (1 lb 5 oz / 4 3/4 cups) plain flour (all-purpose flour)
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 tablespoons caster (superfine) sugar
3 tablespoons oil

2 tablespoons oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
1 small red chilli, seeded and finely sliced
8 Swiss brown mushrooms, finely chopped
8 shiitake mushrooms, finely chopped
225 g (8 oz) tin water chestnuts, drained and finely chopped
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon cornflour (cornstarch) mixed with 1 tablespoon water
2 spring onions (scallions), chopped
1 tablespoon chopped coriander (cilantro) leaves

To make the dough, sift the flour, baking powder, sugar and 1 teaspoon of salt into a bowl. Gradually stir in the oil and 375 ml (13 fl oz / 1 1/2 cups) of water and mix to a soft dough. Turn the dough out onto a floured board and knead for 5 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and elastic. Cover and let the dough rest at room temperature for 1 hour.

2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat, add the garlic, ginger and chilli and cook for 1 minute, or until softened. Stir in all the mushrooms and cook for a further 5 minutes, or until the mushrooms are tender. Add the water chestnuts, oyster sauce, soy sauce and combined cornflour and water and simmer, stirring, for about 1 minute, or until the mixture has thickened slightly. Remove from the heat and stir in the spring onions and coriander. Set aside to cool.

3. Divide the dough into 24 pieces. Shape each piece into a 6 cm (2 1/2 inch) flat round. Put 1 teaspoon of mushroom mixture in the center of each and gather the edges together, pinching to enclose the filling.

4. Line a steamer with baking paper and punch with holes. Place the buns on top, 2 cm (3/4 inch) apart, and cover with a lid (you may need to do this in batches).

5. Sit the steamer over a wok of saucepan of boiling water (the steamer shouldn’t touch the water) and steam for about 15-20 minutes, or until the buns are firm. Serve immediately.

My Mom is vegetarian so this is a recipe we can both enjoy 🙂 The thing to remember with these buns is even if they don’t look perfectly round (I know mine didn’t!), they’ll still taste just as good!