Steamed buns with roast pork filling (Steamed pork buns, or char siu bao, or chuuka manjuu, or nikuman)


Being a world wanderer of sorts (I've lived in 4 countries and 20+ different homes since I was born), a lot of my eating and cooking is tinged with nostalgia and longing for things that I miss from places I've lived before. I've posted several such recipes here, such as for New York style bagels, homemade pizza, and chocolate peanut butter cups.

This is another such recipe, for Chinese-style steamed buns. I say Chinese-style, because the kind I yearn for is probably not very authentically Chinese like the ones Renee can enjoy in such variety in Singapore. It's the Japanese version of the Chinese steamed bun, called chuuka manjuu. In Japan the chuuka manjuu usually has a smooth top because the dough is gathered and pressed together around the filling on the bottom. The fillings are usually an, sweet azuki bean paste (this is called anman, or roast pork (char siu) mixed with vegetables (this is called nikuman). There are also bastardized versions such as curry and Italian style meat sauce. They are usually sold from special glass cases which keep the buns hot and steamy, at combini (convenience stores) and such.

The sweet bean paste filled ones usually have a little red dot on top. Now, red bean paste (an) is not one of my favorite things to eat, even though my sister Meg was a chef at the New York Toraya for many years. (Toraya is arguably the leading purveyor of traditional Japanese sweet pastries.) Therefore, my favorite, nostalgia-inducing bun is the one with a roast pork or char siu filling.

On a side note, the best bao or pau I've ever had were from a tiny store on Pacific Avenue in San Francisco, on the edge of Chinatown. (I wish I could remember the name...). It has pictures of $4 and $5 platters of meat and veg on rice in the dingy window, and a big steamer up front containing the whitest, fluffiest bao I've ever had. My version is not nearly as perfect, but it is pretty damn good.

Bao or chuuka manjuu do freeze well if you make a large batch. You can steam or nuke them one at a time (steaming is much better, but nuking is more convenient.) This recipe makes 24 buns, and I freeze most of them when I make a batch. A bun makes a great little snack.

Making char siu from scratch is sort of a bother, but I have given a recipe for a simplified version. It does take time to cook, but a ready-made lump of char siu (or yakibuta in Japanese) is very useful, and can also be cooked in quantity and frozen for later use.

Chuuka Manjuu, Japanese-style Chinese steamed buns

The dough:

  • 6 cups of all-purpose flour (if you can find bleached flour, which we can't here in Switzerland, the buns will be whiter than white like they are at that store on Pacific Avenue)
  • 2 packages dry yeast (1 packet contains 7g of dry yeast)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup lukewarm water
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup warm whole milk
  • 2 Tbs vegetable shortening or lard
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • Parchment paper

Cut up the parchment paper into 24 squares about 10 cm / 3 inches square.

Proof the yeast in a bowl or cup in the 1/4 cup of warm water with a pinch of sugar added, until foamy.

In a large bowl, put in 5 cups of the flour. Make a well in the center, and add the hot water and mix rapidly. (Hot water seems to bring out the sweetness in flour.) Add the sugar and yeast/water mixture, baking powder, warm milk, and the shortening or lard. Mix well. Add the rest of the flour little by little until you have a workable dough. Knead for a few minutes on a floured board until it's soft and pliable. (This dough is one of the easiest you'll ever encounter.)

Put into a large plastic zip bag and seal. Leave in a warm place until the dough has doubled in bulk, or has filled up the bag until it looks ready to burst. (About 45 minutes).

Take out the dough and roll into one long sausage. Cut the dough into 24 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, and let rest for a bit.

To fill the buns, flatten each ball so that the middle is slightly thicker than the edges. Put about a tablespoon or so of filling in the middle. Gather up the edges and pinch them firmly together to seal, then turn the bun over and place on a square of parchment paper. Let the buns rise for 15-20 minutes before steaming.

Steam in a steamer for 20 minutes. Eat while piping hot. I like to dip mine just slightly in soy sauce mixed with mustard sauce (the kind made straight from dry mustard powder, like the little packets you get at a Chinese take away).

The pork filling:

  • 400g / a bit less than 1 lb of char siu (Chinese-style roast pork, recipe follows)
  • 1 cup finely chopped green onions
  • 6 dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup of canned bamboo shoots (optional)
  • 2 tsp. dark roasted sesame oil
  • 1 piece of fresh ginger, chopped finely
  • 3 Tbs soy sauce, or the defatted roasting liquid from the char siu
  • 1 Tbs flour
  • 2 Tbs cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup water

Soak the shiitake mushrooms in warm water until soft. Cut off the hard stems and slice thinly.

Cube the pork, or chop it up finely.

Mix the flour and cornstarch with the water.

In a pan heat the sesame oil and toss in all the ingredients except the flour/cornstarch water. Sauté briefly, then add the flour/cornstarch water. Cook until it's a bit syrupy.

Let cool and use to fill the buns.

Yakibuta, or Japanese-style Chinese Roast Pork (char siu)

  • 1 kg/ 2 lbs or more pork roast. It should not be too fatty, but should not be totally lean or it may be rather dry.
  • Soy sauce
  • 1 fat piece of ginger
  • 1 star anise
  • 3-4 garlic cloves
  • Sugar
  • Water

If you have a big piece of pork, cut it into about 500g (1 pound) pieces. Roughly chop the ginger - you can leave the skin on - and bash the garlic to crush a bit.

Put the pork pieces in a sturdy plastic bag. You may want to double-bag it. Put in the pork, ginger, star anise and garlic, and fill with enough soy sauce to cover the pork. Seal the bag well and marinate in the refrigerator overnight. Turn the meat several times if you can so that the marinade penetrates evenly.

Preheat the oven to 140° C / 280° F. Empty out the contents of the bag into a baking dish. Add a bit of water so that the meat is sitting in about 1cm of liquid. Sprinkle the meat with sugar, and bake for about 2 1/2 - 3 hours, turning the meat every 20-30 minutes. If you want it even sweeter, sprinkle more sugar on the meat periodically. At the end, the liquid will be almost gone and syrupy, and you will have dark amber colored pieces of pork. Let cool and slice thin, cube, etc. You can use cubes in fried rice, or in the steamed buns of course, and any number of things. Sliced thin it makes a great salad. It's also a rather unusual tasting sandwich meat.

It is quite worthwhile to make this in some quantity, since the cooking takes so long, and to freeze in portions for later use.

For sweet bean paste to make anman, try my not-so-sweet tsubu-an or tsubushi-an recipe.

(Check out my Easter brunch bunny bao too!)

Filed under:  japanese snack chinese favorites chuuka

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wow, i am SO impressed that you make the char siu yrself, as well as the bao!
i love these buns, they remind me of being at my nana's house. i used to hate the red bean ones and it was always a game to see who would get the yucky red bean one (or even worse, the yellow bean one), and who would get the prized char siu one. i don't remember my nana making them from scratch, altho she would make all manner of other delicious chinese foods.

I remember as a kid growing up in Hilo,Hawaii we would buy sweet pork buns off the ice cream truck. They were so big and tasty and I haven't had one in 15 years as i left the island when I was 13. I'll make up some soon I hope yum yum.

It is a lot of work to make the char siu also, but I try to make it on another day and store pieces in the freezer to use for buns and other stuff Sometimes it just turns into an all-day cooking session tho...what one does for sake of a tasty bun, hehe.

Maki, you bad, bad girl!

You made me crave Asian I simply had to make a batch of Hot and Sour Soup for dinner. Haven't posted the recipe yet...perhaps tomorrow.

Thanks! (I actually am very happy now that I just had a lovely bowl of it to warm my tummy.)

I am lucky to live close to Chinatown in NYC and when I ate meat, these were one of my favorite snacks. DELICIOUS! Darn, now you've got me craving them!!!

The buns look soooo good! In the Philippines these are called siopao and I think they're the best snack: self-contained and very tasty too. I can't wait to try out the recipe!

AHH there things are driving me crazy. i have to go and get some from a local soy foods convenience store. first Renee then you...i'd swear someone is plotting against me. otherwise, great site with useful recipes and wonderful anecdotes.

That sounds really yummy. Can you recommend some alternative fillings (preferably pork-free)?

You can make the buns with any filling really, like tofu or quorn.

I just made this recipe with chicken thighs so I could share roast pork-style buns with my semi-Kosher Jewish partner - it tastes awesome!!

(Thanks so much for this awesome website, by the way! =) )

We get the same things sold on the streets of Saigon. They go by the name of Banh Bao. Banh basically means 'cake' and I'm guessing the Bao has the same derivation as your white wonders. You've tempted me to go and hunt some down.

I love these buns. When I lived in Hawaii we used to call them Manapua, and you would go to this little shop (Libby's) and you get dozens of them in a pink donut box with small side cups of soy sause and maybe some hot mustard. Always the pork filled.

I go to chinatown in SF every once in a while and I have my favorite shop, but I still miss LIbby's.

I've made them at home once. They didn't turn out nearly as nice and round as the ones I've purchased over the years.


OMG! I just remembered what these were called in Hawaii and searched to see if anyone else had had them and there you were. *L* I lived I Hawaii on and off till the mid 80's and this was one of my favorite things. Glad I found this blog. *S* Will be making them!

There's also wholewheat bao available here in Malaysia (not that common, though). The ones I've had were really yummy - different texture, slightly chewy and nutty.

I had one for breakfast this morning :D

Hmm.. how brown do they get Mei? With bleached white flour the buns should be fairly white, unless the buns 'burn' (too little water can sort of smoke them instead of steaming them)

Can you please post me recipe for chinese red bean paste buns.

I've never made steamed buns (well, that's what we called them when I was a kid :) so this is maybe a silly question but:

for freezing them, do I let them rise, then freeze, then steam when I want one? Or steam them, freeze them, and resteam when I want one. :)

For reference, Mei, I have made the dumpling dough exactly following Maki's recipe and they turned out fine. The hot water is added to the flour only, by the time you've stirred it up it has cooled considerably. I used my fingers to make sure it wasn't too hot for the yeast before adding it.

No issue with buns getting brown at all, either but I'm confused by your reference to an hour? They only need to be steamed for 20 minutes...

Thanks for the recipe, maki. I made these with leftover chicken tikka masala and could not be happier.

here in minneapolis the vietnamese restaurants sell a version of this with spicy ground pork and a hard boiled egg inside. good but not quite the sweet roast pork ones i enjoyed in china and vietnam.

Iam doing a recipe 4 my class at maryborough central and i just would like 2 mack it so i chosed that so can u please let me no if u can find any more info i would ipreshat it thank u very much it was delishis thank u
love always crystal stutz
bye there came again

We have these in Jamaica. Although they started off being made by chinese immigrants they are now part of Jamaican cuisine. They are spelt 'Sowbow'. I figure the 'Sow' refers to the pork inside? I make mine with homemade charsui pork made with a 'Noh' spice mix from Hawaii and freeze in 'foodsaver' bags untill I make the sowbow. Sometimes I will add thinly sliced sweet chinese sausage (lap shong?)which is very tasty and widely available here.

Sylvia, you'd steam and cook them completely, then let them cool and freeze them to be revived later.

Iam doing a recipe 4 my class at maryborough central and i just would like 2 make it so i chosed that so can u please let me no if u can find any more info i would ipreshat it thank u very much it would be delishis thank u
love always crystal stutz
bye there came again

Dear Maki,

I just wanted to say I LOVE YOU! I made these today and they were perfect! I had been looking for the recipe for SO long, you have no idea. And I had tried to make them from many different recipes and your recipe is the best one ever. Thank you SO much! =D

Those look great... I am going to have to suggest dim sum at lunch time!

I love this recipie, and have made it with great success with a variety of interesting fillings (I made a great batch with a sort of savory dried fruit mixture)... Today I'm making a batch with the yakibuta described here, except I'm going to try to modify the recipe for my slow cooker... if it works out well I'll post back with what I did. Thanks again, Maki!

Hi Folks, being a french-vietnamese (dad is french, mom is vietnamese) I was born in Saigon and raised in so many different countries that I developped an accute sense of "International Cuisine". Specially the Thai, Chinese, Vietnamese, German, Hungarian, Russian, French and Italian.
One thing I know very well is Vietnamese cuisine.
"Vietnamese Banh Bao" is wonderfully good. In Vietnamese "Banh" means cake/bread and "Bao" means covered/closed in....suggesting a covered stuffing!
In short Stuffed Bread/Cake. Try them by typing Banh Bao or Vietnamese Banh Bao in Google search...Bon Appetit! I have been working & living in about 60 countries and found that people are amazingly creative specially in their cooking....I am in North America now and I am discovering US and Canadians is beautiful thanks to good spirited human beings like You! Drew The Gourmand Gourmet.

Looks really good!I may try making them soon:)

Do you have a recipe for the Asian red bean paste bun?

I have a question,I am reluctant to try this recipe because the dough needs hot water and warm milk. I know the hot water will kill the yeast thus it will not help the dough rise. I know lukewarm liquid will help the yeast to activate with an addition of sugar. please help. The siopao picture looks so yummy!

Thanks so much! I was actually trying to find a website for a rest. in Chinatown (NYC) that makes these to see if I could order a big box (I now live in Fla, and the chinese food down here is less than desirable when you are used to Chinatown food :) and they don't have a website, so I tried for the recipe...THANKS!!!

I have a question,I am reluctant to try this recipe because the dough needs hot water and warm milk. I know the hot water will kill the yeast thus it will not help the dough rise. I know lukewarm liquid will help the yeast to activate with an addition of sugar. please help. The siopao picture looks so yummy!

Thanks for posting this recipe! I made them with a red bean filling for dessert, and they were really delicious, white and fluffy, even better than you get in most restaurants.

I have a question,I am reluctant to try this recipe because the dough needs hot water and warm milk. I know the hot water will kill the yeast thus it will not help the dough rise. I know lukewarm liquid will help the yeast to activate with an addition of sugar. please help. The siopao picture looks so yummy!

I thank you very much for the recipe of chuuka manjyu. I would like to know how to cook "Dry bamboo" - soft, sweet flavoured shinachiku. I can't find ready made shinachiku but a dry hard bamboo ready to cook in Australia. I tried many way to make them soft, eg. cook with vinegar, Epson Salt, I'm not happy at all. Pls help
I would like to cook the dry bamboo as soft as real Shinachiku.

Please let me know if anybody already tried the above recipe.
I tried with the bleached flour, the buns still get brown after 1 hour later.

in Hawaii we can the pork buns "Manapua"

I've used this recipe many times. You only need to steam the buns for twenty minutes, dear. :)

THANK YOU so much for sharing your pork bun recipe. I wanted to make red bean paste buns for my daughter's birthday and used your dough recipe. I used red bean paste that we had purchased in Japantown for the filling. I made them according to your directions, but since we don't have a steamer I baked them in the oven (350 degrees for about 14 minutes). I also brushed the tops with egg wash before baking. They came out beautifully. Thank you!!!

i made them again the other day and they were the best thanks for the recipe my mother died and never taught me how to make them and she made some good ones i can never seem to make them like she did

Will the uncook dough freeze ok? I know yeast doughs can be frozen ,but has anyone tried freezing the dough?

The dough will probably freeze ok, but by the time you have defrosted it and allowed it to come to room temperature, then allowed it to proof a bit (rise up) could have made it from scratch, since this dough really is quite easy to make. So I have never really bothered to freeze it. For dumplings you need in a hurry made in advance, I would recommend freezing the already steamed ones, as described above. These re-steam quite nicely.

Also, I see I didn't answer a question above about the use of hot water. It should be noted that the hot water is not boiling water, and therefore will not kill the yeast; it's just rather hot water. Hot water is used frequently in Chinese recipes using flour, since the hot water is thought to bring out the natural sweetness in flour (even boiling water, as in recipes for gyoza/wonton skins and so on.)

I just made a huge batch of these last night for our annual Oscar party, and they turned out very nice. I love this recipe since it is so reliable.

Thank you, i did freeze the balls of dough. I know it might be faster to just make a fresh batch ,but for me its easier to let it sit and poof while i go about my day than have to sit there and make a whole new batch. Then after just some waiting its ready to fill and use.

I usually do just steam and freeze rather than freeze the uncooked dough ,but i was short on time and wasn't able to cook all the dough i made. Whoops!

Thanks again!

wow, thanks a lot for this recipe!

this is the best dough recipe i've ever tried. and even with all-purpose flour (here in germany we call it "type 405") they're still the "whitest" bun i've ever made.
i've used this recipe a few times already, they always turned out great. but for a milder taste i cut down the yeast to one package only. they'll still rise as much.

as for really nice char siu filling i used a spice mix they sell in asia supermarkets (you only have to add water to the mix and put your pork into before putting it into the oven). if you add a little starch into the leftover fluid where your meat was grilled in, you get a fine sauce for the (chopped) char siu.

i made a lot (about 32?) last time i was at my parents home, so that i can take them freezed to my little apartment - everytime i'm too lazy to cook i can just re-steam them easily. it saves me a lot of time :)

thanks again for sharing!

The place is probably Dick Lee's. Best place for pastry in San Fransisco (and it has been far too long since I have been there) and their bao, it pretty amazing. Steamed and baked.

ihave put the dough in a zip bag and left it near the radiator just now but the dough kind of went soggy is this ment to happen?
i will probably sort this out but just for next time!

If the dough was a bit on the wet side to begin with it may 'perspire' a bit, but it shouldn't get too soggy. If it does though, but it still puffed up, it's still fine - just add a bit more flour to your board when you punch it down and form the balls.

While awaiting my flight in Seattle, I wandered around down town and came upon a little hole in the wall, which was spotless and I had, for the first time eaten steamed buns, but it had some kind of meat inside with a boiled egg and a few green onions. I also was given a little bowl with a liquid, not knowing what it was or was even for I asked and was told fish sauce. I am certainly happy I didn't dump the whole thing over my bun as fish sauce is not my cup of tea, to me it had a horrible taste. This bun how ever was absolutely the best food I have ever eaten. It was the size of a huge grapefruit took up a whole plate. I want to find a recipe for this but I don't know if this restaurant was Thai, Chinese or other. Does any one have any ideas?
I thank you for the above recipe and I plan to make them this evening after a visit to the store.
Happy Bun Eating to all...
Love this site..I will be back often!


I don't know why I can get my post..
I was recently in Seattle and had a lot of time to waste until my flight so I wondered around down town Seattle. I came upon this little hole in the wall of an Asain restaurant. It was spotless and very modern to my surprise, I can't remember the name or the type of Asian food they had, but I ordered one of these buns it was huge, the size of those huge grapefruit you see. It took up the whole plate. It was filled with some type of meat and a whole hard boiled egg along with some green onions. It had a slight sweet taste, was so tender and I thought I had found my slice of the good life at last. They also gave me a saucer of some type of sauce that after I asked they told me it was "fish sauce", well I am certainly happy I asked before I dumped the whole thing over my wonderful bun. This fish sauce is horrid!
By the description might any one have any idea as to what ethnic of Asian restaurant I was in Thai, or other? It definately was not Chinese. I also had tea but this was the first time in an Asain restaurant that I was served tea with just the leaves in the pot with hot water. If anyone might know I sure would like to also as I want to try to find this type of steamed bun. In the mean time I am definately going to make the above it sounds wonderful. Thanks for anyone's help.

Happy Bun Eating To All...Until We Meet Again..
I will be back soon..I just found this site and love it already!


Hi Serai, your comment didn't publish right away since all comments are held for moderation (blame the spammers...) I'm on the road at the moment so the approval rate is a bit slow.

As far as that bun you had, i've have similar ones in Chinatowns in NY and SF - it's basically a huge steamed bun, and they often have half a boiled egg or sometimes a whole quail egg, sometimes a bit of sausage, ground pork, etc all inside. I hope someone from Seattle can point you to the exact store though!

Maki, your recipe is awesome! However, being a vegetarian, sadly i cannot experience the world of meat. I have tried a variation on this from sister tried to bake 'em in an oven; i steamed mine. And let's just say.......the baked and steamed buns were at opposite ends of the universe! Hehe. Anyway, do you have a homemade ramen noodle recipe at all? Because i've been looking all over for a noodle recipe without eggs, but no rice noodles. I'm looking for one that is healthy, and not deep fried. No pressure, but if you can find a ramen recipe somehow, you'd be my hero =D
Best regards,
Beef Sushi

For the char siu there is no sugar amount noted. This is my first time making this and I'm just unsure. Also, what constitutes a "fat piece of ginger"??

A 'fat piece of ginger' would be a piece about the length of your thumb up to the first joint. For the can start with a couple of tablespoons. Some people like more sweetness, some less. There really isn't much you can do wrong with this give it a go!

Hi Maki,

I will be attempting the recipe in the next few days and really look forward to trying it out. Since I don't have lard or vegetable shortening, do you think it is okay to just substitute that with vegetable oil instead? Is the lard or vegetable shortening a must in the recipe. I am not too familiar with working with dough before so I am clueless. Also, is this recipe easily done if I half it? Any thoughts.

Thanks a lot!

The substitutes I use for lard are, in order:

  1. vegetable shortening (e.g. Crisco in the US)
  2. unsalted butter
  3. vegetable oil

Oil should be ok in this recipe I think in any case. You may need to adjust the amount of water a little bit, but it should be a very minor adjustment. Good luck!


Thanks for answering! Something came up and I wasn't able to try out the recipe like I wanted to. I will definitely try it and will post about success (hopefully) when I do. Thanks again!


I finally made the buns today and I have to report GREAT SUCCESS!

Didn't get a chance to make the barbecue pork though, I used ground pork curry filling instead. (marinated the pork with grated ginger, some chinese wine, salt, pepper, curry powder, dash of garam masala, chopped green onions, cornstarch). Sauteed it with some chopped onions and shallots.

Also halved the recipe which yielded 12 wonderful buns. I did not have baking powder at home so that was omitted as well. As for the lard, I used olive oil which worked fine

The buns were not quite white as I used unbleached flour (which didn't matter to me at all). The buns were nice and soft and just plain yummy.

I see lots of possibilities for these many different fillings possible. Looking forward to making another batch soon!

Thanks again for a wonderful recipe.

that's great Wakkun! The recipe is indeed very reliable...I've used it tons of times since it was posted here.

I Love Sweet Pork buns, I just went to Chinatown in San Francisco last Sunday and went to my favorite Bakery the Easten Bakery on Grant st and bought 3 dozen Steamed Pork buns to take home and freeze. I just had one for Breakfast. I am going to try your recipe and make them myself. Thanks so much!

Hi Maki,

I was wondering if you have ever attempted to make the char siu in a slowcooker? I've had lovely results making pork roasts in there on the low setting, but I'm not sure about the whole carmelized sugar thing when in comes to the char siu. Perhaps it would still work out okay if I flipped the pork every hour or so on a 10 hour setting?

I would really love to try this recipe, but I'm a bit hesitant about the time involved. If I could multi-task this in any way that would be great! Also, given that my kitchen faces due west and has sliding doors I'd rather not heat it up more than it is!

Love your website!


The pork should turn out nice and tender in a slow cooker, but you wouldn't get the caramelizing on the surface. This buta no kakuni (braised pork belly) should work great though, and would make just as nice a steamed bun filling.

These turned out great and my family loved them! The buns were the best-tasting I've made and I can't wait to make them with red bean paste filling!

This recipe is time-consuming though, so I hope I can find the time to make it while I am at school.

I'm making them right now! I don't have a steamer so I'm using those Ziploc steam bags. I'm not sure how they'll turn out since I have to guess how long to keep them in the microwave. The frozen buns from Asia Market on the west side take 1m30s for two of them. Or 10m in the steamer or rice cooker.

Would this be 15 - 20m in the rice cooker, too? What about Ziploc steam bags? I'm not sure! I'm going to steam one in the microwave from the Ziploc steam bags and find the time length. I'm glad I made 24 of these things!

The filling? Chicken, rice and bamboo shoots (all canned but for the rice!).

I made these and instead of steaming, i baked the buns. They turned out fantastic. I would everyone to try it at least once. The dough was teh easiest to handle as well.
Thank you very much for the recipe.

I am part of an historical group called the Society for creative anachronisms (SCA for short) and I am trying to plan a japanese feast so we could have something besides german and english foods.
So, I was wondering if something like pork buns were around in the 14th-15th century? If not, do you have any suggestions?

As I explain in the article, these pork buns are not Japanese per se - they are a Japanese version of a Chinese dish. (Think of tacos in the US as a similar item. Part of everyday eating, but not really 'American'. Steamed buns are like that in Japan.) If you want to do something very Japanese that is portable and might have existed in the 14th century, you might consider onigiri - see a version for beginners here, and all the onigiri related links in that post too.

Dear Maki,

I've been following your blog for a while now, stumbled across it thanks to your wonderful onigiri page.

I'd love to try and make these buns, but I'm allergic to dairy (not quite the same as lactose intolerant, according the the doctor) and even the small amount of milk in the bun dough would affect me. Is there anything that it can be replaced with, without changing the taste too much?

And for those who baked the buns, at what heat and for how long? (We don't have a steamer here, unfortunately).

I often substitute soy milk for cow's milk in baking recipes. But you may want to try the steamed bun dough I used for bunny bao, which is milk-free. It's a bit lighter dough.

You can steam-cook buns in a frying pan. Put a little oil in the pan, and line the buns in there, with some space between them to allow for expansion. Brown the bottoms of the buns on medium-high heat for a couple of minutes, then add about 1/2 cup of water and put a lid on quickly (or the water-oil combo will spit at you), lower the heat, and let it steam for about 10 minutes. You get buns that are soft and fluffy on top, crunchy on the bottom.

I've eaten bao in NY Chinatown with "fresh" pork filling, similar to the pork filling in a potsticker, which contained shrimp and kard boiled egg yoke. Does anyone have a recipe for that filling? and, does it have a Chinese name?

I've eaten bao in NY Chinatown with "fresh" pork filling, similar to the pork filling in a potsticker, which contained shrimp and kard boiled egg yoke. Does anyone have a recipe for that filling? and, does it have a Chinese name?

One of the ways they cook bao in Taiwan is to cook 20 or so in a huge steel pan with a little oil. They let the bottom get crispy and then pour in water to steam them. So good.

I love these. There amazing. You can get them at dim sums and at the frozen aisle in chinese supermarkets. but my daddy makes them. But i want the oven made kind XD do you have the recipe for that? I can't find it any chinese cookbook!


Love this recipe! My family was more fond of the buns that I baked (though I think the steamed ones dipped in soysauce are perfect!), but overall they loved the results (I was just happy that they were so easy to make following your instructions). The pork turned out beautifully; it was tender enough to almost pull apart instead of cutting. Normally, my mom bakes german pockets (beef, onion, and cabbage filling with a white dough). It seemed as though these were the oriental version of those! Though I have to admit to cutting out the mushrooms; I have no love for fungus.

I was wondering how to best steam these. I tried a few recipes and put them in a steamer over the rice cooker and the water was boiling. Would it be done best in a bamboo steamer over a wok?

I don't have any whole milk, would rice milk be a good substitute? The first ingredient in rice milk or soy milk is water so I'm afraid it would be too watery. What if I added some yogurt to the milk? Thanks!! I want to make these tomorrow and any tips would help!

This looks so good! I have just put my yakibuta in the oven. I didn't have star anise, but I hope it will still be good without it.

When it's done, I think a good chunk of it will go into nikuman. I have occasionally bought them, and they always seem far too sweet, so I'm not going to put too much sugar on the yakibuta, nor in the dough.

Time to turn the pork...

:) late comment :) My mom always says if you wanted the Banh Bao dough to be whiter do add about 1 to 2 Tbsp of vinegar to the steaming water. :) hopes this helps

I cannot believe I found this recipe, I can't wait to try it.
Is there any chance you got a good recipe for Pho Ga with rice noodles?

We used to live in Tampa Fl. and would make weekly visits to Trang viet cuisine rest. They have the most amazing steam buns and Pho Ga. But we moved to north Carolina and I can not find another viet rest. anywhere here...

Please say you can send or post a Pho ga recipe. :)

Thank you so much!

Tried a few recipes and this one is the best yet! Made half steamed and half baked version

I feel very stupid for asking this, but could anyone please tell me how to steam the buns? I just bought a bamboo steamer, but I'm not sure how to use it. Are you supposed to place it on top of a pot of boiling water?

And what kind of steamers do you use? Because the one I bought is not tall enough to fit these buns, I think. The compartments are only about 4 cm tall, but I couldn't find any taller steamers.

Lastly: Does anyone know approximately how many calories each bun is? I really love this kind of bun, and plan to make these for lunch, but I can imagine them not being that healthy...

Did you buy the lid that comes with the steamer? The lid fits on top of the steamer, doubling the height of the whole 'container'. A bamboo steamer is usually fitted on top of a wok that's filled with water. Any pot that's large enough for the steamer to either fit on top of or in (doesn't have to be exact, but most of the steam should rise up into the steamer, not escape all around) will work.

Each bun is roughly 200 calories. They aren't the healthiest, since they are made of white flour and all. You could compare them to a small hamburger, including the bun.

Thank you so much for the reply! It was very helpful. ^___^

The steamer I bought came with two compartments and a lid. The compartments have kind of a groove along the edge where it is narrower (sorry, i can't find the word I really want in english). The lid have the same groove but on the opposite side, so it fits together with the compartments. Because of this the compartments don't become any taller with the lid.

Could I ask you what steamer you own? I really want one I can make nice, big buns and dumblings in, in addition to veggies and stuff.

THANK YOU. these are amazing! i'm munching on one right now (hence the lack of capitals.) i have loved these forever and this recipe is delicious and easy! i added extra sugar to the meat as you mentioned and it was fabulous. I'm definitely going to be making these again.

Now excuse me, I have to go eat some more. :)

Thank you so much for posting the Japanese names for the buns. While I was visiting Japan I just picked up whichever buns looked good and didn't pay attention to the names; I have kicked myself ever since. Cant wait to try these recipies!

This came out great.

I did have one question though, after freezing them, whats the proper method to reheat them? Microwave? And if so, how long would one cook it?

What a wonderful recipe. Thank you so much for the brilliant article. BTW be careful with the cornstarch when preparing the filling... I used half of the amount stated and it was still too much! No matter, everything still turned out wonderfully well! This is a hit!

Yes! I used to get my bao from a place on the street one up from Grant Avenue, not too far from Broadway. The lines were huge in the A.M. as people jockeyed for their favorites fresh from the steamer -- they even had one that had a hard boiled egg in the middle. I moved from San Francisco so many years ago and always planned to move home but never did. Gosh, I miss it.

It's the slight sweetness of the dough I miss in most bao recipes. I've often wondered if a little sweet rice flour in them mix wouldn't give it that, as well as making them a bit fluffier, without the sugar, but have never experimented. Maybe it's time I did.

I've just been wandering your site, ravenously devouring the great posts. Thanks for this and all the other great recipes. ;)

hi! from Betelgu-erh I mean Norway here.. I tried your recepie and i must say it is delicious. especially the dough, I might even try making it into conventional sweet buns (boller) !
I will definitely make more nikumans, with both more pork and different fillings, like vegetables.

I was wondering, have you tried experimenting with full grain or half grained flour?

how about things like spelt or even fine rye?

thank you for this awesome and indepth recepie. the order of making is a bit backward (meat which is in the filling which should be made before (or during) the buns, being in the order of dough - filling - meat) notwithstanding, i will definitely make more of this. thank you!

can these be done with shreded beef?

Maki-san, thanks for the recipe!^^ I finally found time to make some, and it was delicious, although my dough was a little to thick and not fluffy enough to my taste (but I guess that'll come with more practice...?). I made two different kinds: tsubuan (I absolutely love tsubuan since I went to Japan), and I also tried a butternut squash and carrot filling, which I haven't tasted yet. Can't wait to see the result!

does the dough have a good amount of sweetness?

Hi Maki!

Ever since I moved back to Canada after living in Japan for 3 years, I've been trying to recreate my favourite recipes at home. Your blogs have been a great help and have introduced me to even more wonderful foods!

I had something similar to nikuman in Takayama with only veggies inside. Have you ever had these or something similar? Do you have any suggestions for making the filling?

Thank you,


Try something like sauteed spinach or other greens, flavored with garlic and so forth. Make sure you strain or cook off any excess liquid to stop them from being soggy before using them as a filling. There is a place in Yokohama that makes 'vegetable buns' stuffed with something like that and they are really really nice.

Made these today and I'm so proud of myself, because they turned out perfectly! I used up the char siu pork I'd made and frozen the previous weekend, diced fine and mixed with the retained marinade from cooking (which I'd also frozen). Didn't have any of the other ingredients for the filling that the recipe called for, so I just added a little oyster sauce.

I've never successfully made bread before so I was hugely excited when my dough rose like a charm and was so easy to work with. Popped the bao in the three tier steamer and they came out exactly as per the picture for the recipe. And they taste so good!

I'll be making these again but next time I'll halve the recipe. I'm also excited to experiment with the dough for other recipes having had such success with this today. My mind is coming up with all sorts of fillings and rolls, both savoury and sweet.

Thank you so much!

I have msde these twice now... they are so good and fun to make too!

We used pork for filling but also tried peanut butter and nutella. All three fillings worked really well.

This time I havent added a filling but have been using them to mop up curry sauce.

Hey, these look amazing and fairly simple to do. I just have one question, which might be stupid, so I apologize in advance.

If I want to make the baked version, with the sweet honey glaze on the top, is it the same dough recipe and process, just baked instead of steamed? Or is it a completely different recipe and process?

Thank you!

Also, your articles here and at just bento have made me a better cook more than culinary school did. I learned how to make proper rice from you! So thank you so very much.

Hi, not sure if you'll see this (or know what to do) but I was wondering if you could give any advice on this recipe? I've tried it twice, plus a couple other bao recipes from various cook books and they never work - my dough rises beautifully at first, but 'dies' after I shape it. No matter how long I leave them, the shaped buns never seem to rise again, and once they are cooked they're pretty much how you'd imagine un-risen bao would be. Weirdly enough, my mum has also tried several times in the past, with the same result! Just wondering if you had any ideas what I might be doing to mistreat the dough... hopefully not some kind of genetic dough-making defect.

Even if you can't help, I just wanted to say thanks for all the recipes - I've never commented before but I've used your site for a long time, and it's my go-to resource for Japanese cooking.