I’ll Steam Your Bun

Today’s entry is written from the comforts of my childhood bed. It smells like the childhood form of myself. All my high school mess is still strewn around the room. I have little relics from eras long gone. So foreign and distant and long ago, and yet so comforting at the same time. No matter how much I grow up and however far apart I live from my parents, home is always where the heart is. And this entry is all about cooking at home with family.


My mom and I were feeling pretty adventurous and so we decided to take on a tough challenge – recreating those delicious steamed buns you often find on the rolling carts of dim sum restaurants or fresh-from-the steamers at your local pork BBQ shop. A good steamed bun has starchy white dough with a hint of subtle sweetness. The dough should be springy and not too dense. A bit of vinegar in the dough keeps it pure white, but should not be noticed in the taste. Fillings vary from sweet to savory- ground meat and Chinese sausage, or sweet BBQ pork, or even mung bean. All the variations are absolutely delicious. Here we show you how to do a savor ground pork with egg and Chinese sausage variation. I hope you enjoy!


Steamed Buns/Banh Bao
source: Uyen Thy Quan

Dough Ingredients:
3 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp Alka baking soda
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp white vinegar
1 cup whole milk

Dough Directions:
Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl by hand, stopping just as the dough begins to come together in a ball. Over-mixing will create a bad stretchy, tough to chew dough – certainly not what we’re looking for. Knead the dough into a ball, and once formed, cover the mixing bowl with a damp cloth and wrap in plastic. Place somewhere warm for the dough to rise for about an hour. I put mine in a warm oven. At the 30 minute mark, take a moment to punch down your down, rotate it a bit, cover again and let rise for the remaining amount of time. Remember NOT to work the dough too much.


Filling Ingredients:
1 lb ground pork
1 small turnip, diced to the size of a pomegranate seed
4-5 dried shitake mushrooms, soaked, dried then diced
1/3 cup frozen peas [optional]
1/2 tsp salt
2-4 tsp soy sauce [I love Maggi]
1 tbs sugar
lots of fresh cracked pepper
4 boiled eggs, quartered
3 links of Chinese sausage, thinly sliced

Filling Directions:
Combine all ingredients except for the boiled eggs and Chinese sausage. Set aside.


On a floured surface, use a sharp knife to divide the dough ball into 1.5 oz balls. I got about 15 or so balls. Take a small dough ball and roll out into a flat circular disk of about 5″ in diameter. Use an ice-cream scooper to pack in a ball of filling and place the meat filling in the center of the dough. Place 2-3 strips of Chinese sausage around the meat filling and add a quarter of egg to the side.


I had noo idea how to fold these things, but we tried out best. Our best attempt was trying to gather all the dough at the top, to form a pouch, and pinching it all together… Place each bun on a small square of parchment paper. Place about 5 buns on each layer of a stacked steamer, giving room for the buns to expand.


Meanwhile, place a stacked steamer on the stove, with the bottom layer 3/4 filled with water. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, place the first layer of buns onto the pot, close the lid, and turn down the heat to a medium, such that the water continues to simmer/boil. Steam for 25 minutes, or until the dough springs back at the touch.

Once done, they look a bit glossy like these do.


Our first attempt wasn’t too shabby. There are about a million other recipes online, and tons more floating around in family kitchens all over the place. If you have one to share, or tips for making really delicious buns, post them here! I’d love to try.

Until soon,

PS I have noo idea why, but my pictures from Picassa are not coming out as clear as I’d like. They look sharp on Picassa, but once they get upload here, look terrible. 😦 Any tips?

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One Response to I’ll Steam Your Bun

  1. Chris says:

    Wow, those Banh Baos look amazing. Looks like I have something to do next week, thanks for the recipe!

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