Char siu bao (roast pork bun) is a Cantonese specialty consisting of marinated pork encased in a spongy dough that’s then steamed or baked. The best are filled with the stir-fried trimmings of marinated and roasted pork butt—a slightly fatty cut that stays tender during roasting. There are dozens of varieties of buns in China, but char siu bao remains among the most popular on dim sum carts—and my favorite. — Corinne Trang, from “Bao Wow” (November 1998)
For the Bao Dough
- 1 tsp. active dry yeast
- 3 1⁄2 cups cake flour
- 1 tbsp. sugar
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 2 tbsp. diced lard or vegetable shortening
For the Roast Pork Filling
- 1 tbsp. canola oil
- 3 scallions, white parts only, finely chopped
- 1 1⁄2 cups diced roast pork
- 3 tbsp. soy sauce
- 3 tbsp. oyster sauce
- 1 tbsp. sugar
- 1 tsp. cornstarch
- For the dough: Combine yeast in 1 1⁄4 cups water heated to 115° in a bowl; let sit until foamy, about 10 minutes. Combine flour, sugar, and baking powder in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle. Add yeast mixture, and mix on low speed; add lard one piece at a time, increase speed to medium, and continue mixing until dough forms into a ball, about 5 minutes. Remove bowl from mixer, cover with plastic wrap, and let sit until doubled in size, about 2 hours. Knead dough until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Shape into 16 equal-size balls.
- For the filling: Heat oil in a 10″ nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add scallions; cook for 1 minute. Add roast pork, soy and oyster sauces, and sugar; cook until scallions have softened and pork is heated through, about 3 minutes. Dissolve cornstarch in 2 tbsp. water in a small cup, add to pork mixture, and cook until sauce thickens, about 1 minute more. Remove from heat, and let cool.
- Place a dough ball in the palm of one hand and, with the thumb of your other hand, make a well in the center. Fill well with about 1 1⁄2 tbsp. pork filling; seal by pinching dough closed toward the center. Place a 2″-square piece of parchment paper over pinched area. Turn bun over, and use scissors to make a 1⁄2” crisscross incision in the center of the bun. Repeat process, filling remaining buns and placing on parchment paper squares. Keep filled buns covered with a damp towel. Place 8 buns, paper side down, in an 11″ bamboo steamer; close tightly with lid. Meanwhile, bring 2 cups water to a boil in a 14″ flat-bottomed wok over high heat. Fit bamboo steamer into wok, and steam until puffed, about 12 minutes. Repeat with remaining buns.