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How to Make Chinese Steam Pork Buns (Char Siu Bao)

Updated on January 2, 2012
Photo by FoolishPoolish
Photo by FoolishPoolish

My love affair with Chinese steam buns began back in Los Angeles, California. Los Angeles is very diversified when it comes to dining out. No matter what your food preference, you are very likely to find a restaurant to suit your pallet. When I was living there my family and I loved to go to a restaurant called Boa Wow, it was owned by the amazingly funny Weird Al Yankovic. They specialized in Cantonese cuisine and had the greatest variety of dim sum one could ever imagine. When I went there I always loved to order a couple of their steamed buns also known as boas. Traditionally boas are made with pork, but they can include all types of fillings.

History of the Chinese Steamed Bun

Steamed buns go back thousands of years and can be traced back to the Jin Dynasty. The legend has it that Zhu Giliang in the period of the Three Kingdoms replaced real human heads with head shaped objects made of flour and beef or mutton in the memorial ceremony of LushuiRiver. This offering was known as the “steamed bun head”. These steamed buns were large in size and usually filled with meat.

In the Tang and Song dynasty steam buns were smaller and made with or without meat. The steamed bun, also known as boas has been called referred to by other names, because of variations in how it is stuffed and ingredients used. Steam buns are a part of what is known as Chinese dim sum.

Video YouTube by Akhnaten

Recipe for Meat and Vegetable bun (Char Sui Boa)


1 Lb Ground Pork

1 tsp Garlic, minced

3 ea Tbsp Onion or leek, Chopped

5 dried mushrooms, soaked in water and chopped

1 Lbs spinach or cabbage; boiled, drained, chopped

3 Tbsp Sesame oil

4 Tbsp Soy Sauce

1 tsp Salt

2 Tbsp Wine

½ tsp MSG (optional)

Pastry Mixture:

8 Cups Water

2 Tbsp sugar

3 Tbsp oil

8 tsp Dry Yeast

Warm Water

4 Cups Flour


  1. Mix all the filling ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Mix dry yeast with water and add to flour
  3. Mix in other ingredients for pastry mixture in bowl
  4. Kneed pastry into soft dough
  5. After dough is well kneaded place in floured bowl and cover
  6. Allow dough to rise for an hour in a warm place
  7. Knead dough again after it has risen
  8. Knead dough on a floured board and roll it into a long sausage.
  9. Cut dough sausage into 1 inch lengths.
  10. flatten each piece of dough
  11. and roll each one to the size of a saucer to form wrapping
  12. Put a Tbsp of filling in the center of each wrapping
  13. Flute of wrapping, bring edges together forming a sack and seal by giving a slight twist and pinching with your thumb and forefinger.
  14. Place buns in steamer rack on a wet cloth
  15. Steam for 15 to 20 minutes
  16. enjoy
  17. Leftover buns may be served after reheating either by steaming or frying

Here you have a dish that you can serve at parties or just for your family or friends. Your children will love these and you can even have them help you in making them. This dish is a great way to get children introduced to the wonders of oriental cuisine. 


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    • profile image

      Disgruntled chef. 3 years ago

      Worst recipe ever. I mixed the 8 cups of water with the 8 tsp of dry yeast, and then added it to 4 cups of flour, and instead of dough, I got a giant puddle of soggy flour. I kept adding flour, hoping it would turn into dough that I could knead, and instead, I just exhausted my whole pantry's worth of flour. Now I'm out about 20 dollars of yeast and flour with nothing to show for it. Don't make this recipe.

    • Internetwriter62 profile image

      Internetwriter62 7 years ago from Marco Island, Florida

      Hi Rebecca,

      Thanks for letting me know how this recipe works out. I got this recipe of the internet and I haven't tried it yet, but since it came from a trusted recipe site, I figured it would work out fine. I'll recheck it. Thanks again and I'm sorry the measurements were of.

    • profile image

      Rebecca 7 years ago

      Did you make a mistake on the amount of water and flour? I tried it with 8 cups water and 4 cups flour and I got pancake batter, not dough! I had to add about 6 cups more flour to make it even manageable.

    • Internetwriter62 profile image

      Internetwriter62 7 years ago from Marco Island, Florida

      Thank you Scarytaff. These are definitely worth trying, and the good thing is they are versatile, you can put whichever filling you want, whether it be pork, chicken or vegetable, so enjoy and be creative.

    • Internetwriter62 profile image

      Internetwriter62 7 years ago from Marco Island, Florida

      Thank you rkhyclk. They are very delicious and I hope you find the recipe easy to follow.

    • scarytaff profile image

      Derek James 7 years ago from South Wales

      They look delicious, and I've got to try them. Thanks for the recipe.

    • rkhyclak profile image

      rkhyclak 7 years ago from Ohio

      Internetwriter, these sound delicious! Will definitely try my hand at making them as I love ordering them :-)

    • Internetwriter62 profile image

      Internetwriter62 7 years ago from Marco Island, Florida

      Thanks for stopping by Cybersupe. I'm so glad you got to visit Germany, that must have been a wonderful experience, I bet the food was amazing. I love Chinese food to and dim sum is some of my favorite. I hope you find the recipe easy to follow. I included the video to help.

    • CYBERSUPE profile image

      CYBERSUPE 7 years ago from MALVERN, PENNSYLVANIA, U.S.A.

      Yummy--I love Chinese food--Thanks for sharing this dish. Several years ago my wife and I spent a week at the October fest in Munich and tested every kind of food they served, we loved them all. We still do.