Chinese Barbecued Pork Buns (Char Siu Bao)

Chinese Barbecued Pork Buns (Char Siu Bao)

Yield: 2 dozen

Adapted from Rhoda Yee’s Dim Sum.


  • 3-3 ½ lb boneless pork butt (or pork shoulder)
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 tablespoons ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup dehydrated onion flakes (or 1 cup diced onion, caramelized)
  • 1 ½ cup chicken stock
  • 1 ½ tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 2 teaspoons sherry
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 4 cups finely diced barbecued pork
  • ½ cake of fresh compressed yeast (or 1 teaspoon of active dry yeast)
  • 1 ¾ cup warm water
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 6 ½ cups unsifted all purpose flour


  1. Cut pork butt into 4 inch by 2 inch by 1 inch strips. Using a fork, puncture the meat a few times. Mix rest of ingredients and rub over pork pieces. Marinate at least 4 hours, or for 1-2 days.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 F. Line roasting pan with foil and place pork on top. Roast for 45 minutes or until you get some golden crusting on the fatty parts of the meat. Turn the pieces over once halfway through cooking time. Save the pork drippings and use them as part of the sauce mixture for the filling.
  4. Soak onion flakes in a cup with just enough water to cover flakes. (If using fresh onion, just caramelize and set aside.)
  5. Mix together the remaining sauce ingredients in a small sauce pan. Cook over medium high heat until sauce thickens. Stir in the diced pork and onion. Chill 3-4 hours.
  7. Dissolve yeast with sugar in warm water. Immediately add baking powder and then the flour. The dough will be fairly firm and a bit on the dry side. Knead on board for 20 minutes (you should not need to flour the board) until dough becomes elastic and smooth.
  8. Place it in a big mixing bowl, cover with a damp cloth and leave in a dry, warm place (away from drafts) until dough doubles in bulk. Takes about 2 ½ to 3 hours. I like to let my dough rise in my oven, which I slightly preheat at 250 F for 2-3 minutes then turn off.
  9. Punch down the dough and knead again for 5 more minutes. It is now ready to be stuffed with filling.
  10. Divide dough into 24 balls. Slightly flatten each ball, then roll out into 4-inch discs, leaving the center of the disc twice as thick as the side. (This is done because if you roll it out to an even thickness, the top of the bun will end up being too thin in comparison to the bottom due to the way the dough is wrapped.)
  11. Place a mound of filling (about the size of a ping pong ball) in the center of the dough. Gather up the sides around the filling and twist dough to seal.
  12. Place on a 2 inch square piece of wax paper, twist side down. Put the wrapped buns at least 2 inches apart on a cookie shet and allow the buns to rise in a draft-free place (the oven) for another hour.
  13. TO STEAM: Steam for 15 minutes. Turn heat off and let the steam subside before lifting the cover. (You can use a tiered steamer or a wok with a steaming rack placed inside).
  14. TO BAKE: Char Siu Bao can also be baked. Preheat oven to 350 F. Set buns 2 inches apart on a cookie sheet. Brush with a mixture of 1 beaten egg white, 1 teaspoon water and a ¼ teaspoon sugar. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Brush with a mixture of melted butter and 1 tablespoon honey.


Make Ahead: Cook and freeze. Reheat by steaming if steam-cooked originally. Steam frozen buns for ½ hour to reheat. If baked, thaw and wrap buns in foil or cover pan with foil and reheat in 300 F oven for ½ hour.