Char Siew Bao

Char Siew Bao aka Barbecue Pork Bun (叉燒包)

Char Siew Bao (barbecue pork bun) is a classic dim sum food. The bun (bao) has a fluffy bread like texture with a savoury-sweet, flavoursome & saucy pork filling (char siew). It is loved by many around the world.

I made some char siew (barbecue pork) a couple of days ago and had some leftovers which I kept in the freezer. So, I decided to try my hand at making char siew bao (barbecue pork buns). This is a brave attempt on my part as I always had this idea that making bao is really difficult to get right.  It was a real pleasant surprise when I ended up with some pretty good results. Now, I can have my bao and eat it !!


  • 125 ml water (heat to 30C)
  • 1 teaspoon yeast
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 130 gm flour
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 100 gm wheat starch
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder


1. Stir 1 teaspoon of yeast & 1 teaspoon of sugar (leaving the remainder for later) into warm water in a bowl. Place the bowl in the microwave for half to an hour. To create a warm environment, place a glass of hot boiling water in the same microwave. The idea of the warm environment is to activate the yeast. The yeast solution should look frothy showing the yeast has been activated. Check it after half an hour. If it’s not frothy, leave it for another half an hour.

2. Add the yeast solution to the flour and stir well to combine. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and place it in the microwave. Empty the glass and fill with hot boiling water and close the microwave door. Leave the dough in the warm environment for an hour. This will allow the dough to rise to double its size.

3. Add the rest of the sugar and oil to the dough. Stir the dough until the sugar is dissolved.

4. Mix wheat starch and baking powder and add to the dough. Knead the dough till it is no longer sticky. This should take about 5 minutes. Add a little more wheat starch, if necessary.

5. Let the dough rest for 20 minutes. Dough will become soft.

6. Knead till the dough is pliable and elastic.

7. Cut the dough into 6 pieces.  Roll each piece into a ball.  Flatten the ball with your palm and use a rolling pin to flatten the edges further, leaving the centre of dough thicker than the edges.

8. Fill the dough with a heaped tablespoon of char siew filling (see below for recipe on char siew filling). Using thumb and finger, gather the edges and twist at the end.

9. Let the bao rest for 10 minutes before putting in a steamer of boiling water. Steam for 12 minutes.


  • 100 gm of char siew * (diced)
  • 1 cup of char siew sauce *
  • 1 onion ( finely diced)
  • 1 tablespoon cornflour mixed with 1 tablespoon of water
  • 1 teaspoon oil

1. Fry onion in a teaspoon of oil till soft.

2. Combine with char siew and char siew sauce and bring to the boil.

3. Add cornflour mixture to thicken the filling.

4. Allow the filling to cool before use.


*Click here for recipe for home-cooked Char Siew.


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