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Char Siu Bao 叉烧包

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Cha Siew Pau, Cha Shao Bao, or Char Siu Bao... whatever romanization it is still the same old bbq pork steamed buns.

There’s this Cha Siew Bao in Tanjung Tualang, which the pau skin is the traditional type, yeast raised, and it is called Hainan Pau.
I prefer this type of pau skin to the Dimsum shop types, which are raised by double action baking powder.

My all time favourite cha siew pao is from Kam Ling Restaurant in Kampar. Their filling is just yummy. Super yummy! I’d say this filling that I’ve recreated based on the memory of Kam Ling’s Cha Siew Pau is…… 80% to 90% similar. I didn’t put in chopped coriander, but Kam Ling does. This cha siew filling doesn’t have hoisin sauce in it…. Which is why it just taste different from most recipes… yummy

I used to make pau by just assuming the proportions, and they come out with different textures each time. So, this time, I want to standardize my pau skin recipe.

This is the outcome.

Pau Skin recipe

A) 600gm pau flour
120gm sugar
¼ tsp salt

B)300ml warm water
1 sachet instant yeast
1 tsp sugar

60gm shortening (melted, but not too hot)

1) Mix B together and wait for the mixture to froth.
2) Mix A together. Pour B in.
3) Knead until it becomes smooth and doesn’t stick to the side of the mixing bowl.
4) Pour in melted shortening, and knead until the oil is fully incorporated. (It may seem to be very oily, but don’t worry, just knead)
5) Shape into a ball and cover mixing bowl with cling wrap and let sit until dough has doubled. (I knead in a pot, so I just cover up with the pot lid)
6) Punch down and knead. Divide into 50gm balls.

Cha Siew Filling Recipe
A)600gm pork
3 soup spoon sugar (Chinese soup spoon)
1 soup spoon dark soy sauce
2 soup spoon light soy sauce
1 soup spoon chinese rose wine (mui gwai lou)
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup water

1/2 cup water
1 heaped Tbsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp oyster sauce

1. Marinate pork with all ingredients in (A) for 4 hours at least. (I do it overnight)
2. Pour pork and marinade into a heavy bottom pan or pot and cook on medium fire until the sauce thickens into honey like consistency.
3. Let cool in pot and chop cha siew into small cubes around 5mm X 5mm.
4. Mix B together. With the same pot that has the thickened sauce in it, pour B in. Bring to a boil and put chopped cha siew in and cook until gravy has thickened and reduced.
5. Put cha siew on a plate and let it cool down. When cha siew has cooled, chill in the fridge.

** this filling can be prepared days in advance and refrigerated. Take note that filling turns saltier after being steamed in the bun.

1. Take a ball of dough weighing around 50gm each, flatten it into a circle.
2. Place a table spoon of chilled cha siew filling into the centre of the circle.
3. Gather sides of the circle carefully and pinch the top together.
4. Place onto a piece of paper.
5. Let sit for 30 minutes and steam on high fire for 10 minutes.

By the time I finish doing the last one, it’s more than 30 minutes, so I just prepare the steamer and steam the first few paus. No need to wait.

58 lovely notes:

Argus Lou November 21, 2008 at 10:55 PM  

Those are good-looking Char Siu Bao. So accomplished, you are!

wendyywy November 22, 2008 at 6:18 PM  

Thanks for the compliment!

A Full-Timed Housefly November 21, 2009 at 11:11 PM  

These look so delicious... yum yum , thanks for sharing !

Anonymous,  September 13, 2011 at 9:13 AM  

hi,this looks delicious. Can I use all purpose flour instead of pau flour?

wendyywy @ Table for 2..... or more September 13, 2011 at 9:16 AM  

Yes, you may. All purpose has the same gluten level as pau flour, just that pau flour is finer.

Qinggy September 13, 2011 at 9:22 AM  

Hi, this looks tempting!! Can I use all purpose flour instead of pau flour?

Anonymous,  October 21, 2011 at 3:09 PM  

Hi Wendy,
Thanks for sharing this recipe, btw do u have any steam char siew bao that is crack on top (dim sum type)? if have don't mind to share with me :) thank you

wendyywy @ Table for 2..... or more October 21, 2011 at 4:22 PM  

So sorry, but I don't like eating the cracked type, so I don't think you'll ever find it in my blog. To me that type sticks to the teeth and is leavened with toooooo much baking powder. Not good for health.

MyCoachBags January 13, 2012 at 7:04 AM  

I am going to make this again!!! :)

Anonymous,  January 23, 2012 at 8:41 PM  

Hi Wendy,

May I know how long did you leave the dough to double?

Ili :)

wendyywy @ Table for 2..... or more January 24, 2012 at 12:48 PM  

depends on where you are from.
If you are from tropical country, it's around 1 hour, could be 45 minutes if the weather is hot and drier.
If you're having less then 25C, it could be 2 hours or more.

Anonymous,  March 4, 2012 at 11:15 PM  

Hey Wendy, may i know how many Pau's you make in total with this recipe?
(Annie Takeda)

WendyinKK @ Table for 2..... or more March 5, 2012 at 12:59 AM  

by doing some calculations of 50gm/per pau.
you can estimate about 22 buns out of the dough.

WendyinKK @ Table for 2..... or more March 5, 2012 at 1:01 AM  

Skip the salt in the filling... I find it a bit too salty after being made into buns, but ok when eaten on its own, funny. But some find the filling ok. So up to u.

Anonymous,  March 5, 2012 at 8:12 PM  

Okies.. got it! I will give it a try when im free. (Annie Takeda)

Jess,  April 10, 2012 at 8:44 PM  

Hi Wendy, is there a substitute I can use for shortening? (Can't find it here) Thanks!

WendyinKK @ Table for 2..... or more April 10, 2012 at 8:46 PM  

butter or oil or even margarine if you want.

London's-beauty July 22, 2012 at 7:06 PM  

Is the bun fluffy like the ones you get in the restaurant? I want to make char siu boa one day. ^^

WendyinKK @ Table for 2..... or more July 22, 2012 at 7:42 PM  

I'm not sure about the version at the restaurant u visit, but this is not the typical dimsum/yumcha restaurant version.
Sorry, but I don't like those split top buns.

Anonymous,  November 19, 2012 at 5:51 AM  

Hi Wendy,
I've tried yr recipe today, and was very happy, it was success in 1 go. I just used ordinary flour and put the dough to rise in a covered pan. Works better then with cling wrap.
Only the pleating of the dough was a little clumsy. I made 32 pcs from the 600 gm flour, cos its smaller with max stuffing.

WendyinKK @ Table for 2..... or more November 19, 2012 at 3:51 PM  

anonymous (name please :)
it's ok, once u get the hang of it, it'll be much prettier :)

June,  November 24, 2012 at 11:04 AM  

Hi wendy,
I cook teh char siew but the colour so pale brown colour. Not like yours in the picture. So more like rou bao then char siew bao normally red colour.

WendyinKK @ Table for 2..... or more November 25, 2012 at 1:11 AM  

It is not red because there is no food colouring used. Those in the shops use red colouring.
I have no idea why yours is pale brown since dark soy sauce is dark. You must cook it until it's as thick as honey(step2) and there will be some caramelizing going on that will darken it further.

Apple,  January 18, 2013 at 11:35 AM  

Hi Wendy,

do i cut the pork before marinating? Or marinate the whole pork and cook it in a whole?


WendyinKK @ Table for 2..... or more January 22, 2013 at 1:49 AM  

char siew cuts.. those 1 inch thick pieces
you can refer to my 'Easy char siew filling" recipe as well. That's the latest version from me,

Vivi Hou February 11, 2013 at 11:27 AM  

Hi wendy, i've just found your blog :)
What can be used to substitute chinese rose wine? Cant find it here in philadelphia...
Thank you! Happy chinese new year to you!

WendyinKK @ Table for 2..... or more February 15, 2013 at 3:24 AM  

Shao Xing wine. But it doesn't have that typical smell.

Anonymous,  March 3, 2013 at 9:04 PM  

Hi I tried to do the pau skin but it turns out to be sticky. I used cooking oil instead of shortening.
Is there anything I can do to ractify. Thanks


WendyinKK @ Table for 2..... or more March 4, 2013 at 9:10 AM  

Using oil won't cause it to be sticky.
If all the measurements are correct, the dough will be sticky initially, but don't worry, just knead on. when the dough has been properly kneaded, it will turn soft, smooth and definitely won't stick to your hands

villy villy March 25, 2013 at 4:56 AM  

Hi wendy, I have try few if your mantou recipe, it turn out really fluffy. Today I try this chsr siuw pau but the pau skin have abit problem. 1. I was using lard instead of shorthening. 2. I was using plain flour with 10.4% protein content. After the first proofing, I dont know why it is very hard to rolled out as the dough was very elastic. Why us this happen? When I do mantou last week, it didnt happen. Is is because I was using lard? I contonue to shape the dough for filling but the dough still hard to rolled round nicely as in once I place the rolled round dough on my hand then it shrink like elastis band....so funny....please advice Wendy....thanks...


WendyinKK @ Table for 2..... or more March 25, 2013 at 2:54 PM  

villy villy,
I think the gluten content is rather high. You may need to knead it longer until the whole dough feels soft. Yes it will feel kind of soft and smooth. If the kneading does not reach this stage, the buns will not be as soft when done. If the dough resist rolling, as in pulls itself back, let the dough rest for 10-15 minutes before you roll it out.

villy villy March 26, 2013 at 8:05 AM  

OMG so many typo error .... hehehe sorry (that stupid auto correct) @_@
Back to the pau skin.... thanks Wendy for the advice, I made it again today but using butter as recommended in your recipe and kneed longer. Yes it become very soft and elastic. I feel the difference in the texture while kneeding the dough even when the dough was still rough. I guess is because the lard that I was using at my previous attempt. The lard was bought from supermarket (white cube just like butter). When using lard, the dough feels really hard (not dry)...dont know why. But this time more like what you described. The pau turn out soft and fluffy but I still not very satisfy with the skin in term of (maybe) I made the skin to thin hence cant fully stand out the soft and fluffiness of the pau and there was very little bit of chewy feelings as well .... hmmmm....maybe need to do more practice ....next time try with sweet fillings...
Thanks again Wendy ... will need to snatch your others recipes ^_^

WendyinKK @ Table for 2..... or more March 26, 2013 at 11:31 AM  

villy villy,
If the dough was rolled out too thin, the pau won't be fluffy. The higher gluten content of your flour will make it chewier, unfortunately.
Hmm... will melting the lard help?

Bonchichi April 1, 2013 at 4:59 PM  

HI Wendy, thank you for the recipe. i tried making the char siew bao on 30th March. first of all, after adding the oil, it was oily but doesn't stick to hands, but after much kneading it start sticking on my hand, so i have no choice, but to add some flour.
with the weather been so hot, it only took 45 mins to proof the dough., it came up triple the size of the normal dough. i punched itdown and started wrapping. it is really very soft and the rest of the dough was still rising while i was wrapping up the some of the bao. is it normal?
Over all the bao was very soft and nice. felt that i was a success for a beginner.:-)
Today, when i take it out from the fridge to steam, it was very hard. Is it normal?


WendyinKK @ Table for 2..... or more April 2, 2013 at 10:38 AM  

Sticky after kneading with oil? It's kind of surprising.
The dough will continue to rise as long as it's not cooked, so as you wrap, the dough will surely rise.
You need the shaped ones to rise before steaming so that you will have a nice fluffy bao.
Keep them in the fridge 'air tight' or in a plastic bag tightly sealed (shopping plastic bags will do). Exposure in the fridge or freezer will dry them up. You can try moisting the surface with water, then steam it longer. It can rescue the dry bao.

Bonchichi April 2, 2013 at 5:09 PM  

Thank you Wendy for your reply. Ya, i am still puzzled that it is so sticky after kneading all the oil into the dough. About 10 mins of kneading. Anyway, today i ate the balance of the bao. is hard, but after steaming, magic! it came soft again:-)
is there any difference between using milk instead of water?

Bonchichi April 3, 2013 at 12:30 PM  

HI Wendy,
Thank you for your reply. sent you a reply yesterday, but i don't know why it was lost. anyway, how long do i have to let the shape ones rise before i steam. mine after shaping, no more rising.
the good news is after steaming, it is still remain soft even today as i have my last three mini baos.
what is the different between adding milk instead of water to the dough?
do you have any pork or chicken bao recdipe?

WendyinKK @ Table for 2..... or more April 3, 2013 at 2:40 PM  

Comments on blog posts older than 24 hours will be moderated, as in, I'll see them before they appear, so that I won't miss them. after I have seen them, then I'll get them posted and reply it as well.
The buns have oil in them, when chilled, like what fats will be harden :)
All my available recipes are here in this blog, check out the recipe index.

Bonchichi April 9, 2013 at 1:00 PM  

now it makes perfect sense. So if i am to reduce the oil or no oil, will that makes it soft?

WendyinKK @ Table for 2..... or more April 10, 2013 at 10:42 PM  

Any fat is a tenderizer.
Reduce it and the bun will turn stale quicker.
When warm you won't taste much difference if you reduce it, but if omittted.. nah.
For this bun, you can reduce to 30gm if you like, but won't stay soft as long :)

beeman koh August 4, 2013 at 3:57 PM  

Hi, my instant yeast come in a bottle. So may I know how much is in 1 sachet of instant yeast?

Can I substitute 60g of shortening with 60g of butter?


WendyinKK @ Table for 2..... or more August 6, 2013 at 1:53 AM  

1 sachet is 11gm of instant yeast.
Yes you can use butter or oil.

Anonymous,  October 17, 2013 at 9:55 PM  

Wendy my dough doesnt rise at all, and after 10-15mins steaming my pau turns yellowish half cooked n shiny, 2nd time i tried still the same. Pls advice!

WendyinKK October 18, 2013 at 10:29 PM  

If the dough didn't rise during proofing, it won't rise during steaming.
If the yeast water doesn't bubble up during step 1 of preparing dough, then you cannot proceed because the yeast is dead

Anonymous,  October 19, 2013 at 8:46 PM  

Hi Wendy, thanks for the word 'dead'. i just realize my yeast had expired....
Rence (T_T)

Keat Chow,  October 1, 2014 at 8:45 PM  

Hi Wendy, just like you I prefer handmade yeast pau. I've tried your CSP recipe and it turnout not bad for a beginner like me. However I like my pau skin to be a little coarsier (like the texture you shown in your wholemeal CSP); how can I do that? I noticed that my pau didn't rise much after wrapping. I was thinking if it'd helped to add 1-2tsp of baking powder into this recipe. Please advise. Thank you so much for all your wonderful recipe. Regards, Keat

WendyinKK October 1, 2014 at 10:16 PM  

Keat Chow,
thanks for trying out the recipe.
You can try using plain flour instead of pau flour for a coarser texture. If your bun is well risen, the 'holes' will look similar to the wholemeal bun, adding some baking powder will make it slightly bigger.

paperpapier October 14, 2014 at 2:58 AM  

Hi Wendy,
Thank you so much for sharing the recipe. So glad I to find an English written pau recipe. Though I used to eat pau made by my late Hainanese father, I did not pick up the skill from him as I was too young then. My sisters and mom know how to make them using agak-agak/estimation method (because they are experienced!) , I kind of lost listening to their instructions! I like the bun texture. It is very filling and not powdery or fluffy like the one sold in dim sum or coffee shop. I simplified the filling process by cooking it in low fire straight away after marinated overnight. I blogged about this here
and have it linked to your site too. You are right, the Chinese Rose Wine gives a unique aroma to it. My sister told me that some coffee-shop seller even added peanut butter to the pork for better taste.

WendyinKK October 14, 2014 at 9:57 AM  

Hi, thanks for trying out the recipe.
Wah, peanut butter... first time hearing this, and I've never tasted any with peanut in it, hope that one day I get a chance.

Keat Chow,  December 10, 2014 at 11:17 AM  

Dear Wendy,

It's me again. I've made CSP with your recipe a few times, the product always turned out
good. One thing I notice is my CSP shape is flat compare to red bean/lotus paste which is nicer in shape. I believe it's the oil contain in CSP that make the shape unstable. Is there anything I can do to make my CSP stand

Thank you & Merry Christmas.


WendyinKK December 10, 2014 at 6:28 PM  

Keat Chow,
Haha, I am still hoping for an answer too.

Anonymous,  August 20, 2015 at 4:58 PM  

Hi Wendy
Cecilia here. Thanks for sharing your recipe. I made red bean paos with them. Love the chewy texture which reminds me of my childhood paos. Anyways, I encountered a few hiccups while making them and would like to ask if they are normal and if there are any pointers to avoid them in future.
First, the dough was slightly tacky during shaping so I wasnt able to get a nice round ball after filling n rolling in my hands. Is this normal?
Then, I left them to rest for an hour placed 2-3cm apart. They doubled their sizes and were bigger than my paper lining of 6cmx6cm! Woah! Oh and they were sticking to each other by then and it was difficult transferring them to my steaming pot. After transfer, the skin was wrinkly *sob*
And that's it! Otherwise they taste wonderful!! Looking forward to your advice!

WendyinKK August 20, 2015 at 10:08 PM  

I'm glad you like the taste of the bun.
It shouldn't be tacky. But a slight dusting of flour during shaping will help u. Do spread them apart as you leave them to proof, next time I think u will know how far to set them apart. All the best in your next try :)

EiLvaNe September 12, 2015 at 1:19 PM  

can the same dough be used for baked buns?

WendyinKK September 12, 2015 at 4:39 PM  

Yes you can, just replace the shortening with butter

EiLvaNe September 13, 2015 at 8:26 PM  

wooh thats great news! what about oven time and temperature?

WendyinKK September 21, 2015 at 10:09 PM  

It's a steamed bun.
Not a baked bun.

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