Pillowy soft steamed buns filled with a sweet, savoury saucy pork filling. Homemade Chinese Pork Buns are truly just like the ones you swipe off the dim sum trolleys. These will blow your mind!
Sunday morning Yum Cha is almost a religious ritual here in Sydney. Large groups descend upon vast restaurants from mid morning, with steaming trolleys piled high with dumplings and buns rattling around the room. The familiar sound of bowls being banged onto tables, the bottomless Chinese tea, and the brisk, borderline rude service.
It’s all part of the experience. Polite service at Yum Cha is almost creepy. It’s just wrong. 😂
The trolley-chasing protocol differs from restaurant to restaurant, but I’m shameless. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. And when I need pork buns, I will stalk trolley after trolley until I find it!
Homemade Pork Buns aren’t a quick and easy recipe but they are worth the effort because it will blow your mind how similar they are to Yum Cha / Dim Sum. Plus, if you’re addicted as I am to pork buns, you’ll save stacks because it’s probably 70 – 80% cheaper to make at home.
And they are the ultimate freezer standby. 1 minute in the microwave from frozen = pork buns that you’d swear just came out of a bamboo steamer.
HOW TO MAKE PORK BUNS
There are 4 main steps to making steamed pork buns.
1. THE FILLING
Made with Chinese Barbecue Pork (Char Siu), chopped then coated in a simple sweet and savoury sauce. Use either store bought or homemade Char Siu. Full blown home made Char Siu requires at least 24 hours marinating time, so if time is of the essence, refer to the recipe notes for a quick homemade Char Siu.
2. DOUGH FOR PORK BUNS
Just like making any yeast bread or rolls, the dough is pretty standard and effortless if made using a stand mixer!
The dough is soft and elastic dough, very easy to work with. The recipe video is helpful to see the dough consistency.
3. STUFF ‘EM!
OK, so there’s no denying this is the part that takes some practice and I’m no Pork Bun Goddess. But it doesn’t matter. Even if you just bundle it up like a money bag and get that filling sealed inside, it’s still going to taste just as good!
The recipe video is the best way to learn how to wrap pork buns, but here’s a brief step by step description:
- Roll out pretty thin rounds, making the edges thinner so you don’t end up with a huge thick wad of dough when you pinch it together;
- Place it on your hand and top with Filling. Pinch the dough around the edges (#6 below) to make pleats – around 8 times;
- Moving around the edge, gather together the pleats, bringing them together so you end up sealing the bun at the top (#7 and #8 below);
- Pinch to seal and give it a good twist (#9).
Voila! You’re a Pork Bun Master!
I use a bamboo steamer set over simmering water in a wok. Any steamer will do, but if you want the truly authentic pork bun experience, it’s worth getting a bamboo steamer because it imparts a subtle fragrance into the buns.
Nifty tip: How to make the paper liner for the bamboo steamer. Fold baking paper, line up with centre and trim off end (#1), then cut little diamonds along the edge (#2), unfold (#3) then plonk into your steamer!
ALL CREDIT TO WOKS OF LIFE
I want to be very clear about giving credit for this recipe because it is not an original recipe by me.
This is a recipe that was meticulously researched and created by Judy and Bill from Woks of Life – their Steamed BBQ Pork Buns. Really good people, excellent taste, exceptional cooks and a very high standard of quality. I trust their recipes completely.
Judy and Bill – we salute you!
It’s worth every minute of effort. Tastiness aside, everyone is always soooooo impressed by homemade Pork Buns.
Let’s be honest. The prospective praise seals the deal.😂 – Nagi x
These are truly just like what you get at Yum Cha / Dim Sum. Soft fluffy white buns with a juicy sweet and savoury filling. Perfect freezer standby - microwave from frozen and it's like they're fresh out of the bamboo steamer! Recipe video below.
- 1 tsp active dry yeast powder
- 1/4 cup / 65 ml warm water
- 1 tbsp white sugar
- 1/2 cup /125 ml warm water
- 4 tbsp /70g white sugar
- 2 cups / 300g plain flour (all purpose)
- 1 cup / 155g cornflour / cornstarch
- 1/4 cup / 65 ml vegetable oil
- 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1/3 cup finely chopped escalot or white onion (Note 1)
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce , regular or light (not dark)
- 1 1/2 tbsp oyster sauce (can sub Hoisin)
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tbsp cornflour dissolved in 1 tbsp water
- 1 1/2 cups Chinese Barbecue Pork , diced (Note 2)
Yeast Activation: Place yeast, sugar and water in a small bowl. Mix, then set aside for 10 minutes until it becomes foamy.
Place flour, cornflour and sugar in a stand mixer bowl fitted with a dough hook. Mix briefly to combine.
Add yeast mixture, oil and water. Mix on low speed for 3 minutes until a smooth ball of dough forms. It should be soft and elastic, not so sticky it gets stuck all over your hands. Adjust with a touch of flour/water if required to get the dough consistency right.
Cover with cling wrap and place in a warm dry place for 2 hours until it doubles in volume. (Note 3). Meanwhile, make Filling.
Remove cling wrap, scatter over baking powder. Return to stand mixer and mix on low for 2 minutes.
Turn dough out onto work surface, sprinkle with flour. Knead lightly to form a smooth round disc.
Cut dough into 4 pieces. Take one piece, roll into an even log, cut into 3 pieces (so 12 pieces in total).
Take one piece of dough, cover remaining with cling wrap or tea towel.
Roll into round 4.5" / 11 cm in diameter, making the edges thinner.
Place dough in hand, put 1 1/2 tbsp of Filling in the centre.
Pinch 8 pleats around the edges. Then gather the pleats together one by one to seal the bun. Pinch the top the twist.
Repeat with remaining dough - make 12 in total.
Cover buns loosely with cling wrap and leave in a warm place for 15 minutes.
Line a large bamboo steamer (or other steamer) with parchment paper punctured with holes (Note 4).
Place 6 to 8 buns on paper, cover with steamer lid.
Pour about 4 cm / 1 1/2 inches in a wok / pot (steamer should not touch water) and bring to rapid simmer over medium high.
Place steamer in wok, then cook for 12 minutes. Check water halfway through, top up if required.
Buns are ready when they spring back when touched, and the buns have formed a smooth skin.
Remove steamer from wok, serve warm!
Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add eschalots and cook for 2 minutes.
Add sugar, soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil and water. Mix.
While stirring, slowly pour cornflour mixture in. Mix until smooth.
Stir in pork. Cook until sauce is thickened, 1 - 1 1/2 minutes (see video for consistency). Set aside to cool (thickens when cools).
1. Eschalots are the small onions which are finer than ordinary onions. Even brown onions or the white part of shallots/scallions/green onions will do here.
2. Use store bought or homemade Chinese Barbecue Pork (Char Siu).
Quick Chinese BBQ Pork: Marinate pork steaks in store bought Char Siu Sauce (or make small batch of the marinade from Homemade Char Siu) for 20 minutes. Then pan fry on medium or bake for 15 - 20 minutes at 180C/350F, basting with reserved marinade. Use per recipe.
3. Weird but wonderful tip, especially great in winter: DRYER! Run empty dryer for 1 minute, then place bowl inside. Draught free, cosy warm, perfect dough rising environment.
4. Paper steamer liners are sold at Asian stores but I've never purchased them. It's super simple to make (see photos in post & video): get a piece of baking paper, fold in half then quarters, keep folding until you make a thin triangle. Line up with the centre of the steamer then snip the end off. Then snip little triangles along both edges (these become the holes). Unfold and place in steamer.
5. Recipe ever so slightly adapted from this Steamed Pork Buns from Woks of Life. Judy and Bill - we salute you and your brilliant recipe!
6. Other filling options: You could substitute other cooked fillings instead of Char Siu to mix with the filling sauce. Some ideas: Chopped Chinese BBQ duck, chicken or pork meat, even leftover steak. You could even use ground / mince meat - just cook with the eschallot. For veg options, try sauteed mushrooms or vegetables.
7. Storage: Cook then refrigerate or freeze. Fridge - 3 to 4 days, microwave briefly to warm through. Freeze - microwave, covered with damp paper towel, from frozen for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes until piping hot. These are exceptional freezer friendly snacks - once reheated, it's just like fresh out of the bamboo steamer!
8. Nutrition per bun.
WATCH HOW TO MAKE IT
LIFE OF DOZER
MOVE! I can’t change the channel!