Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Char Siew Bao

An item without fail from a dim sum feast will be char siew bao

It is a hot favourite among my family and lately my girl started buying it from the coffeeshop next to her tuition centre.  That prompted me to make my own as I want to ensure she is eating the real stuff rather than just fats and whatever they stuff inside the bao.

I chanced upon this recipe and finds it very unique as the method is different from the usual.  I was even more convinced when I saw the smiling bao.

If this recipe is to our liking, am sure will be making more.  The process is really long so you have to plan your time carefully.

Vedict: The bao dough yield approx 29g per pc for 8 pcs.  Don't be deceived by the size of the dough because after steaming it fluff up many times and will be as big as a fist.   

I had a hard time pleating it as the dough was a little too soft to handle.  It wasn't sticky per se but if you dust your hand with a little flour, this can be overcome.  

I accidently put two layers for the steamer.  Ya don't ask me how it happened but it did.  So my bao was on the toppest level of the steamer.  Not too sure whether this is the cause of my bao not smiling.

Overall, the bao is soft and fluffy.  The ammonia smell was really pungent but as the author's advice I steamed it another round of 12 mins and the smell was gone.

I will attempt this again with one layer on the steamer and see whether my bao will smile.

Stay tuned.

Source: Shoonyin

What you need:
yield 8 bao

113g Hong Kong flour
½ tsp instant yeast,
½ tbsp castor sugar
¼ cup warm water (adjust water, a little at a time, until a slightly wet dough is achieved)

Mix all the ingredients together and knead into smooth dough.

Leave it in a deep bowl and covered with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and prick a few holes on the wrap.

Leave it in a warm place to proof for at least 4 hours.  (it should be foamy and yeasty and double in size)

Main Dough

4 ozs Starter Dough
2 ozs fine granulated sugar
1 tsp double action baking powder (divide in ½ tsp x 2)
½ tsp Ammonium bicarbonate
3 tsp warm water
1 tbsp vegetable oil
5 tbsp Hongkong flour
4 tbsp wheat starch

1 tbsp vinegar for the boiling water for steaming


4ozs of starter dough. Add in 2 ozs fine granulated sugar. Mix well until the sugar is dissolved.

Mix ½ tsp double action baking powder, ½ tsp ammonium bicarbonate, and add in to starter dough mixture. Mix well to combine.

Add in 5 tbsp Hongkong flour and 4 tbsp wheat starch and knead to a soft dough. (a little more water might be needed as it depends on how wet the starter dough is).

Add in 1 tbsp vegetable oil and knead well.

Flatten dough and spread it out, dissolve ½ tsp double action baking powder with 1 tsp water, rub this all over the spread out dough.

Fold the dough in and knead well, so that all the baking powder is well spread.

Divide dough into 8 - 10 portions, depending on how big a Bao you want.

Flatten one portion and wrap Char Siew fillings.

Pick up the edges and wrap up the filling, make sure that there is more dough on top, it will ensure smiling blossom. You do not have to pleat just ensure that the edges are sealed well.

Place filled Pau on top of a piece of parchment paper, put it onto a steamer and cover with a damp cloth. Continue to fill up the other portions.

Bring the water and 1 tbsp vinegar in a steamer to high boil.

Spray the filled Paus with water lightly, do not drown them and put to steam for 12 minutes.

Ensure that the water is on boiling high, the hotter the steam, the better the SMILE.

When the Paus are ready, remove from the steamer and allow it to cool.

Do not serve them as the smell of the ammonia bicarbonate has not dissipated. After cool down, re steam again for another 12 minutes before serving.

Char Siew Fillings (this portion enough to make two batches of the above recipe)

250g Char siew cut into small cubes
½ onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp light soya sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
150ml water mixed with 1½ tbsp corn flour
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp oil for frying


Mixed all seasonings except oil in a bowl.

Heat wok with oil and sauteed onion until fragrant.

Add in char siew and mixed well.

Pour in seasonings sauce and bring to a boil stirring and mixing well.  Turn off heat and set aside.


  1. the char siew pao looks really soft! thumbs up!

    1. Jozelyn, actually it is quite soft but I wanted it to SMILE!

  2. i love all these starter dough smile bao recipe.. they are definitely very very soft! two on the road for me ^^


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