Bao are wonderful steamed dumplings with a delicious filling. These bao are filled with char siu pork with a sticky sweet and savory sauce caramelized with crisp browned pork. These are seriously amazing. They take a little time and patience but once you give it a try they will seem much less daunting.
I have done my best to adjust this recipe to be all things you can find in your average grocery store so you should not have to go hunt them down. While some of these may be unfamiliar to you the Asian section at your grocery store should have all of the ingredients I have listed here, I have also included links for products if you have trouble finding them.
I have also included my own recipes for homemade chili oil and a dipping sauce that uses the chili oil. The acid and heat in the dipping sauce really balances out the sweet and savory pork filling.
If you have not used chili oil before you are in for a treat, it can take anything to a new level flavor wise. You will have some extra after making this recipe so next time you make ramen or a stir top it with a little chili oil and it will transform your dish.
The process for sealing the bao is admittedly a skill that takes some developing, and I am clearly still developing it.
Essentially you you are taking small pieces of the dough around the edge and pinching it together until you have made your way all the way around and it is sealed.
Be patient with yourself here, it probably won't look picture perfect your first time, but I promise you it will still taste amazing no matter what.
Use you thumb to tuck the filling back inside as you work your way around, it will hold more than you expect it will.
When you have made your way all the way around pinch the last bit together to close and then give it a little twist to seal.
If you have little places where the filling starts to break through just patch it up with some extra dough, it will puff up a lot in the steamer and it shouldn't be a problem.
2 cups flour
4 Tbsp sugar
3/4 cup warm milk
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 1/2 tsp (1 pkg) active dry yeast
Char Siu Filling:
1 1/2 lb pork shoulder
3 Tbsp sugar
4 Tbsp hoisin sauce
3 Tbsp miso
3 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp oyster sauce
2 Tbsp mirin
5 cloves garlic minced
2 Tbsp fresh ginger minced
1 1/2 tsp Chinese 5 spice
1/3 cup neutral flavored oil (vegetable, canola, sunflower, etc.)
1/8 cup chili flakes
4 cloves of garlic minced
1 Tbsp fresh ginger minced
Pinch of Chinese 5 spice
Pinch of sugar
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/8 cup chili oil (above)
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp sesame seeds
Makes 12 buns
Combine the sugar and warm milk in a mixing bowl. Stir in the yeast and allow to activate for 10 minutes. Add in the flour and vegetable oil. Mix until the dough begins to come together, continue to knead for 8 minutes. Add in a little flour here if the dough is too sticky. Cover and let proof for an hour and a half.
While the dough is proofing you have time to prepare all of the other elements. Start with the chili oil. Add the garlic, ginger, and oil to a pan and slowly bring up to medium low heat. Allow to toast all together for 2-3 minutes until the garlic begins to turn golden. Then add in the chili flakes, Chines 5 spice, and sugar. Reduce heat a little, stir and allow to continue to toast for 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool completely. This will make more than needed for the recipe, you can store the extra in a jar in the refrigerator for 6 months.
Combine all of the filling ingredients except for the pork and mix well, this is your char siu sauce. Chop the pork into small bite sized cubes, trim off any excess fat and discard. In a high sided skillet brown the pork over high heat until all sides are golden. Drain off any excess fat that is in the pan. Pour in char siu sauce and simmer over medium heat stirring constantly until the sauce is thick and coats the pork. Remove from heat and let cool.
Combine all of the ingredients for the dipping sauce, whisk together and set aside.
Cut a strip of parchment paper into 12 squares, about the size of an average post-it note. Spray each square with non-stick spray or grease with a dot of oil.
Set a pot of water on to boil.
When the dough is risen, tip out onto the counter and divide into 12 equal portions. Roll each piece out into a circle, it should be slightly smaller than the size of your hand. Place a tablespoon or two into the center of the circle. Begin to close up the bun by taking a portion of the edge and pinching together, bring over another section of the edge and pinch it together with the section you started with. Work your way around the edge pinching each section closed and tucking the filling inside until you have made your way all the way around. Give the top a little twist to seal and place on a prepared piece of parchment paper. Refer to the pictures above for guidance.
Place 3-4 buns with their parchment paper into a steamer at a time and allow to steam for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let rest covered for 5 minutes. Repeat with remaining buns.
Serve with a shallow dish of dipping sauce and enjoy!
This post contains links that I may make a small commission from at no additional cost to you