Shui Jian Bao (水煎包)

Shui Jian Bao literally means ‘buns fried/cooked/steamed in water. It came to me as a sudden realisation. I didn’t know that the name was so literally translated! One really has to get down and cook a dish in order to fully fathom the essence behind its name.

Ingredients for filling:

  • Minced pork: 450g
  • Salt: 1 tsp
  • Corn starch: 1 tbsp
  • White pepper: 1/2 tsp
  • Sugar: 1 tsp
  • Fish sauce: 2 tbsp
  • Rice wine: 4 tsp
  • Sesame oil: 4 tsp
  • Water: 1 tbsp
  • Ginger: 2 tsp, chopped
  • Garlic chives (or 韭菜): 1 handful, chopped to fill up 1 cup

Ingredients for dough:

  • Instant dried yeast: 1/2 tbsp (about half a 7g sachet)
  • Warm water: 3/4 cup
  • Vegetable oil: 2 tbsp
  • Icing sugar: 2 tbsp
  • Baking powder: 2 tsp
  • Plain flour: 2.5 cups (250g) + extra for kneading
  • Salt: 1 tsp

Ingredients for cooking:

  • Oil: 2 tbsp
  • Water mixture: 1/4 cup water + 1 tsp plain flour + 1 tsp white vinegar


  1. Mix pork with salt, corn starch, pepper, sugar, fish sauce, rice wine, sesame oil and water.
  2. Leave pork mixture to marinate in fridge overnight.
  3. Add ginger and chives to pork mixture. Mix well and set aside.
  4. Add yeast to warm water. Leave to dissolve for 10min.
  5. Add oil into yeast mixture.
  6. In a mixing bowl, combine icing sugar, baking powder, flour and salt together.
  7. Add yeast mixture to dried ingredients. Knead on a floured surface for about 10min till smooth and elastic.
  8. Leave to rise in a greased bowl for 1hr (till volume doubles).
  9. Punch the dough down and knead for another 5min.
  10. Divide the dough into 2. Leave the other half to stand in the bowl, covered, so that it does not dry up.
  11. Divide dough again into 15 portions. Roll each into circles the size of your palm.
  12. Spoon 1 tbsp of filling into the centre of dough. Fold the edge towards the centre, upwards, to form a bun.
  13. Repeat the steps for the rest of the dough and fillings.
  14. Heat oil in saucepan.
  15. Place about 10 – 15 (depending on how big your pan is) onto pan, seam-side down.
  16. Add water mixture into pan. It should reach half the height of the buns.
  17. Leave to steam on medium heat for 5-8min, covered.
  18. Fry the other side of the bun for 1-2min, if you wish (optional).
  19. Serve with black vinegar and ginger.


  • I have no idea how to fold the buns nicely. Give it a try by watching this video.
  • If you are confident that you’ve folded the buns perfectly, you could actually fry them right side up. I do think it’ll look considerably nicer!
  • You are supposed to invert the buns when you plate them so that the crispy side of the buns does not become soggy.


  • There are many versions of such buns around. This one can be found in many of Taiwan’s night markets, as well as in Hong Kong and some parts of China. There are probably a few restaurants selling this dish in Singapore as well (not that I know of), though Xiaolongbao usually stands out as the more popular choice of my countryman’s taste.

Makes 30 small ones or 15 large (palm sized) ones

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