Street Calls For Char Siu Bao (叉烧包)

There are so many different types of Chinese buns – sweet corn bun, red bean paste bun, pork belly bun, two-toned chocolate buns and so on. Char siew bao (叉烧包), one filled with sweet barbecue pork meat, has got to be my favourite in terms of the type of filling. Admittedly, I do prefer the more authentic and fluffier Cantonese char siew bun popularly sold as a dim sum dish in Chinese Cantonese restaurants, but this dough is much more time-consuming to do with a whole set of steps to go through to proof the first batch of dough first before the final batch of fluffy dough can be achieved. I’ll try that next time, when there’s more time away from work.

Ingredients (filling):

  • Oil: 1 tbsp
  • Onion: 1, small, finely chopped
  • Char siu: 250g, diced
  • Sugar: 1 tbsp
  • Oyster sauce: 1 tbsp
  • Light soy sauce: 1 tbsp
  • Sesame oil: 1 tsp
  • Red food colouring: 1 – 2 drops
  • Corn flour mixture: 150ml water + 1/5 tbsp corn flour

Ingredients (dough):

  • Hong Kong flour: 280g
  • Wheat starch: 100g
  • Icing sugar: 90g
  • Baking powder: 10g
  • Lukewarm water: 160ml
  • Instant dry yeast: 8g (1 packet)
  • White vinegar: 1 tsp
  • Vegetable oil (or shortening): 30g

Method (Filling):

  1. Heat oil in wok. Fry onions for 2min till soft.
  2. Stir in char siew, sugar, oyster sauce, light soy sauce, sesame oil and red food colouring. Fry for 1min.
  3. Stir in corn flour mixture. Simmer till thickened.
  4. Remove from heat. Set aside.

Method (dough):

  1. Combine Hong Kong flour, wheat starch, icing sugar and baking powder in a mixing bowl.
  2. Create a hole in the center of the flour mixture. Fill with lukewarm water, yeast and vinegar. Gently stir to dissolve the yeast.
  3. Add in vegetable oil. Knead for 10 – 15min till dough is soft and smooth. Cover with damp cloth and leave to proof for 30min till doubled in size.
  4. Divide dough into 16 portions. Roll each portion into a flat circle. Scoop a heaped tbsp of filling into center of dough, then pleat to seal the dough. Place on a greased baking paper.
  5. Repeat for remaining 15 dough and filling portions.
  6. Place a dot of red on top of the buns to indicate that it is with char siu filling.
  7. Arrange buns in steamer. Steam 10 – 12min till well-risen.


  • This bun can be stored in the freezer until ready for consumption after the first round of steaming is done. Just re-steam it for another 15min and it’ll be ready for a snack or for your breakfast!


  • This recipe was kindly adapted from RasaMalaysia’s ‘Char Siu Bao‘ recipe.

  • I need to improve on my pleating skills because all the pleats almost disappeared altogether after the steaming. Sigh.

16 medium-sized buns

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