Exploring vegan, vegetarian and sustainable cooking

Chinese steamed pork buns (jing char siu bau)

Source: Fine Cooking #109 (also at

This Chinese steamed pork bun (aka bao) recipe has been in the back of my mind since I first saw it in Fine Cooking magazine. I put off making the recipe, because it seemed labour intensive (in the end, it really wasn’t that bad). With today being the Chinese New Year, I thought it was the perfect occasion to try the recipe.

While there are several steps in making the pork buns, they are actually quite simple to make. And they don’t involve any unusual or expensive ingredients. Friday evening I started marinating the pork. On Saturday, I roasted the pork and prepared the bun filling. Then today at lunch time, I made and steamed the buns.

The first step is making barbecued roast pork. This is as simple as mixing the marinade ingredients together and letting the pork marinate overnight, then roasting in a hot oven.

Chinese barbecued roast pork for pork buns
Chinese barbecued roast pork for pork buns

The following day, you dice the pork and stir fry it with an onion and a sauce. Chill overnight.

The only remotely complicated part is forming the buns. I made the dough in a stand mixer (it calls to be kneaded for 12 minutes… more than I’m willing to do by hand), then divided it into 16 balls. Each ball of dough is hand-pressed into 3″ rounds. The first trick is to keep the middle thicker than the edges, which should be rather thin so they can be pleated nicely. Next comes the pleating, which can’t be explained in words… you need to see it in action. Luckily, Fine Cooking demonstrates it in a video. You’ll probably make 2-3 buns before you really get the hang of it, but after that the rest of the buns come together quickly and perfectly.

Making Chinese pork buns
Making Chinese pork buns

Line the buns on little pieces of parchment paper and steam them in a bamboo steamer for 20 minutes. Eat them fresh out of the steamer (but be careful, they’re hot!).

The recipe is amazing… with one bite, you’ll feel like you’re at a great dim sum restaurant. I have to assume this is a pretty authentic Chinese recipe, because the taste doesn’t lie. I’ll be making these again!

Steaming Chinese pork buns in a bamboo steamer
Steaming Chinese pork buns in a bamboo steamer

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