Known as Char Siu Bao, these are one of my favourite treats…. Soft fluffy buns, melt in the mouth pork, and the crunchy pickled vegetables, everything goes together perfectly.
There’s quite a lot of effort involved, but trust us, it’s worth it. And you can always look to make Chinese BBQ pork in the week with enough left over to make these as a weekend treat.
Steamed Bao buns with BBQ Pork and Pickle
- Stand mixer with dough hook
- roasting dish
- Rolling Pin
- Pastry Brush
- Greaseproof paper cut into 16x9cm squares
- Steamers. Any type will do, including the traditional Asian bamboo ones, but you'll really need two.
- 800 g pork belly slices rind removed
- 4 cloves garlic peeled and finely chopped
- 1 thumb fresh ginger peeled and finely chopped
- 4 tbsp tomato ketchup
- 4 tbsp hoisin sauce
- 2 tbsp pomegranate molasses
- 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
- 2 tbsp cider vinegar
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 525 g soft plain flour
- 1 tbsp caster sugar
- 1 tsp fast action dried yeast
- 50 ml milk
- 1 tbsp sunflower oil
- 1 tbsp cider vinegar
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 piece fennel bulb trimmed and cut into fine matchsticks
- 1 large carrot peeled and cut into fine matchsticks
- 3 tbsp cider vinegar
- 3 tbsp caster sugar
- salt and pepper
- vegetable oil for brushing
- Blend together the first group of ingredients, so the chopped garlic cloves & ginger, tomato ketchup, hoisin sauce, caster sugar, soy sauce, cider vinegar and sunflower oil. Set to one side for 10 minutes
- If not already done, remove the rind (skin) from the belly pork slices.
- Mix the belly slices and 3/4s of the marinade, cover, and put in the fridge for two hours.
- Heat the milk, oil and sugar together to blood temperature (feels just warm to the touch), then add the yeast. Stir and allow to stand for 10 minutes.
- Put the flour, caster sugar and a twist of salt into the mixing bowl, then add the yeast mixture and start to knead using the mixer. Add in approx 200 ml lukewarm water, a little at a time, until it comes together as a softt, just firm dough. Kneed for 5 minutes until smooth.
- Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with cling film or a damp cloth, and allow to rise for 2 hours, or until doubled in size.
- Mix together the final set of vinegar (3tbsp) and sugar with a couple of good pinches of salt and 200ml of hot water. Stir to dissolve. Add in the fennel and carrot, cover and put into the fridge to pickle.
- Preheat Oven to 160C, 140C fan or gas mark 3.
- Transfer the pork and marinade to a roasting tray, add in 100ml of cold water, cover with foil, then cook for 1 hour and 30 minutes, occasionally basting. remove foil for the final 30 minutes so that it colours well.
- Tip the dough out, then punch out all the air. Sprinkle over the baking powder, then knead again for a couple of minutes to disperse the powder.
- Shape the dough into a cylinder and cut into 16 pieces. Roll each piece on the worktop until you have a neat ball with a smooth top.
- Without using any extra flour, roll out each ball into an oval shape about the thickness of a pound coin. Brush all over the top with a little oil, then fold over. Place onto a square of greaseproof, then onto a tray. Oil the top.
- Cover all of the buns with cling film or a wet tea towel, and allow to prove in a warm place for a further 1 hour and thirty minutes, until doubled in size again.
- Remove the pork from the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Shred with the back of a spoon, then mix in the set aside marinade. Keep warm.
- Heat your steamers. If using a bamboo steamer, it's important to wet it well in advance as well.
- Steam the buns, on their paper, for approx 8-10 minutes until well puffed up and firm. It's important not to open the steamer whilst they cook, or if you need to do so to check, that it's the smallest gap possible. You might need to do a couple of batches, so keep them warm in a low oven.
- Pull open each bun along the join, and then spoon in the pork mixture, topping with a handful of the pickled vegetables. Great on their own, or as part of main meal with stir fried vegetables.