Thursday, August 18, 2011

Char Siew Bao 叉烧包

I love baos! It doesn't really matter if it's char siew (honey barbequed pork), yellow bean or red bean, I just love freshly steamed bao. However, Jason has been talking a fair bit about char siew, and since the one we had at a Chinese buffet was not quite up to standard, I decided to make char siew bao.

Obviously, here in the burbs of America, I can't find a local store that makes char siew that I can use. Hence I'll also have a recipe for the char siew, although it wouldn't exactly be what I would be doing if I were making my own char siew that is for eating, instead of stuffing it in a bao. This is because the char siew that is in the bao needs to be wetter, and diced smaller.


Bao skin:
1 1/2 teaspoons yeast
3/4 cup warm water
2 tablespoons vegetable/canola oil
3 cups flour (white flour preferred. I used unbleached flour and everything came out slightly off-white.)
3 tablespoons white sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder

Char siew filling:
3/4 - 1 pound chopped pork (a slightly fatty cut tastes particularly good)
1 small chopped onion (I omitted this because I do not like onions in my char siew)
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons cooking wine
2 teaspoons brown sugar (or molasses) 
1 teaspoon five spice powder

Thickener (if needed):
1 teaspoon cornstarch
3 teaspoons water


Activate the yeast by mixing it in the warm water. Wait about 5min or until it bubbles. Meanwhile, add the light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, honey, sesame oil, cooking wine, brown sugar and five spice powder to the pork. Let the pork marinate while you knead the dough. The pork can also be marinated before hand or overnight.

the pork is swimming in marinade (but it will absorb all of it in no time)

Add the yeast/water mixture to the flour, sugar, oil and baking powder. Mix well, and knead the dough for approximately 10min. Set the dough aside and wait for about an hour.

While the dough is rising, fry the chopped onions in some oil until fragrant. Add the marinated pork to the chopped onions and fry until the pork is cooked. If the pork looks soupy, add in the thickener (cornstarch mixed in water). Let cool.

char siew is cooked!

After an hour, remove the dough and knead again. Portion the dough into ~1/4 cup portions and roll the portions into a ball. Using a rolling pin, flatten the balls into a round pancake, about 4 inches in diameter. Spoon a tablespoon of filling onto the dough pancake and pull the corners together, and pinch it on the top.

char siew bao

Place the bao onto a piece of baking paper, and steam the bao in a steamer for 15min.

cooked - so yummy!

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