Home Baked Char Siu Bao (Hum Bao)
If you know what Char Siu Bao is, you already know how delicious these hot little buns are. They can be baked or steamed, but both have soft, slightly sweet, pillowy dough wrapped around a savory and sweet filling of thick sauce and minced BBQ'd pork. I always eat more than I should, as they are fucking delicious. I have to drive a ways to get good, hot fresh bao, and the frozen ones are full of preservatives and artificial ingredients. I have 4 days off for Thanksgiving, so why not make some, I thought to myself?
Please note that if you decide to make this, you will need several hours on multiple days to complete this. The internet is deceiving, and while none of this is terribly difficult, it IS time consuming! The pork needs many hours or days of marinating and refrigerating, and my dough took a total of 5 hours to rise. That being said, if you love bao as much as I do, these will be worth it. The recipe is straight out of Eileen Yin-Fei Lo's The Dim Sum Dumpling Book, I only doubled the ingredients in parts (The original recipe only made 8 buns. If you think I'm gonna spend 3 days making 8 buns, you're crazy, lady)
Makes 16 bao with leftover pork (which is a good thing).
Step 1: Make the Char Siu (BBQ'd Pork)
- About 2-2.5 lbs of pork butt/shoulder
- 1 1/2 TB dark soy
- 1 1/2 TB light soy
- 1 1/2 TB honey
- ? tsp salt
- 1 1/2 TB Oyster Sauce (make sure Oysters are actually in the ingredients)
- 2 TB whiskey
- 3 1/2 TB Hoisin sauce
- pinch pepper
- 1/2 tsp five spice powder
- Line a large roasting pan with foil. Mix up all ingredients except the pork and set aside.
- Cut your pork into 1"x1" strips, trimming away excess fat. Place in the roasting pan and pour the sauce over the top.
- Turn to coat, and let marinate for 4 hours or up to overnight.
- When ready to cook, put your oven rack on the second closest position to the broiler and preheat the oven with the broiler for a few minutes. Broil pork for 20-30 minutes. Turn and baste at 8 minute intervals. Pork is done when the thickest section is cooked all the way through (no pink). Watch for burning sugar, and some of the edges will and should get a little crispy. If your pan turns dry (mine didn't), add a little water a few TB at a time. Looks like this when done:
- Let cool to room temp, and refrigerate for 4 hours or up to overnight. Now, this stuff is absolutely delicious on its own. Use in stir-fries, sandwiches, chop up and put in soba, udon or ramen soup. I will definitely make this again.
Step 2: Make the filling
- 4 tsp oyster sauce
- 1 1/2 tsp dark soy
- 4 tsp ketchup
- 1 TB sugar
- pinch pepper
- 6 TB chicken broth
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 TB peanut or vegetable oil
- 2/3 cup minced onions
- 1 cup roast pork
- 2 tsp Shao-Hsing wine or sherry
- Mix oyster sauce through sesame oil and set aside.
- Mince your onions and pork. I decided to double the recipe halfway through this step, so the next few pics will show half the amount you need.
- Get a wok or sauté pan hot and put in the oil. Add onions, lower heat to low, and cook until onions start to turn brown, just a few minutes. Add pork and raise heat to medium-high, stir-frying for a few more minutes until pork is heated through, about one minute.
- Reduce heat to very low, add wine or sherry, and mix well, cooking for another minute or so. Add sauce ingredients and stir-fry until mixture is thick and bubbly. Remove from heat and put in bowl. Let cool to room temp then refrigerate for 4 hours or up to overnight (yes, again!) You can make the dough while you let this cool and rest in the fridge.
Make the Dough!
- 3 tsp dry active yeast
- 1/2 cup plus 2 TB sugar
- 2/3 cup hot tap water
- 2 2/3 cups high gluten flour (look for flour that says best for bread machines)
- 1 egg, beaten
- 7 1/2 TB peanut or vegetable oil
- I have no pics of this part as I forgot, plus my hands were super messy with sticky dough, for a lot of it so I'm sorry!
- In a large mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast and sugar in the hot water. Set aside in a warm place for 30 - 60 minutes (the colder it is inside the longer it will take). Yeast is ready when the top is foamy and light brown. When ready, add flour, egg, and oil, stirring continuously with your hand or a wooden spoon (I prefer the spoon). Stir and knead for several minutes until dough is cohesive and sticks together instead of being a gooey gloppy mess. You may need to add more flour, I think I added about ? cup more a tablespoon or so at a time.
- When you feel you can knead it without it sticking everywhere, turn it out onto a floured work surface. Knead for 15 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Re-flour and scrape up work surface as often as necessary to prevent sticking. When ready to rise, put into a large, lightly oiled bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and let rise until about tripled in size, anywhere from 2 - 5 hours.
- After rising (you can see where I poked and lifted the dough with my fingers)
Making the bao!
- You'll need 2 large cookie sheets, and 16 squares of wax paper cut into approximately 4"x4" squares.
- When the dough is ready, divide the dough in half, and put half on a work surface, and the rest back in the bowl with the damp cloth on top. Knead the half you have out for a few minutes. Divide into 8 equal pieces by rolling out into a log, and cutting in half, then cutting pieces in half until you have 8 equal pieces.
- Roll the pieces into balls, and put back what you're not using at the moment in the bowl under the cloth. Make a well into your dough ball, like this:
- Stretch/press to make a little bit bigger and make the edges thinner, and spoon a scant tablespoon or so of filling into the well. Hold bao in one hand, and with the other, pinch two sides shut.
- Turn the bao a half turn, and pinch the opposite two sides shut.
- Now pull the other open corners shut together. You'll be pinching a total of 4 times. Then do a final pinch, and kinda twist the whole bottom together to make sure it's sealed.
- Don't make your dough too thin, or the filling will bust out when you go to bake it.
- Place you bao sealed-side down on a wax paper square. Repeat for all your bao.
- Let rest in a warm spot for about an hour, or until they've risen a bit. A puffy, risen bao:
- When risen, lightly mist the bao with water and using a pastry brush, brush the outside with a beaten egg. Bake in a 350 degree preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, or until lightly golden brown on top. Rotate trays 180 degrees about halfway through baking to ensure even baking.
- Your patience is rewarded with a tray of golden brown, perfectly cooked bao:
- Let cool for a few minutes before ripping into! The finished product:
- These were delicious. I'd probably increase the amount of sauce just a little bit as I like a saucy bao, but the dough was really, really good - very tender, soft, slightly sweet.
- These can be refrigerated for a few days, although the author doesn't recommend freezing them. She recommends bringing them to room temp and baking them for 5 minutes at 350 degrees, but after all the time making them, I'm lazy, and just microwave them for about 35 seconds. I was really happy with how easy the dough was to work with, I thought I would struggle with making them perfect little sealed round buns, but they were surprisingly easy, and I was very pleased with how they would turn out. I might make them again as they're delicious, but they were a lot of trouble. I will definitely be making the pork again, though.
- These are absolutely incredible. They don't actually require that much prep time since a large majority is just letting things marinate or rise. Be careful with the wax paper particularly if your bao are in any way leaky - they will stick more and more as they cool. Make sure to immediately remove them from the paper while hot.
- I loved the original recipe, but I had to make them on a much reduced time scale once and substituted charbroiled pork from the chinese supermarket and simply added the sauce above. It also made extremely yummy Bao - Toast
- These can also be steamed; just put each bun on a square of parchment paper and arrange loosely in your bamboo steamer so that the edges of the parchment separates the buns from each other and the sides of the steamer (If you can't get parchment paper, large cupcake wrappers can work, though the white variety are recommended, as colored wrappers will dye your buns). Steam over lightly boiling water for 15-20 minutes. Peel off the paper as soon as the buns aren't too hot to handle -- the more you let them cool, the more they will stick. HunterJE 23:23, 20 May 2009 (UTC)