Chinese new year is just around the corner! This year on February 10 we celebrate the year of the Snake, the sixth animal in the Chinese zodiac. The snake is known for being keen, cunning, intelligent and wise.
The Chinese lunar calendar is based on a 12-year cycle represented by different animals (except the majestic dragon) and their characteristic attributes. To celebrate the new year, I thought it would be fun and festive to make a classic steamed pork bun recipe, also called char siu bao.
The filling is made up of tender pieces of pork marinated in various Chinese spices and sauces giving tons of flavor in each bite. You can take a look at my Cantonese char siu recipe to see how I made the pork.
To shape the bun, each piece of dough is gently hand rolled to create a round surface, 1 tablespoon of pork filling is placed in the center, and then the bun dough is carefully pleated until the filling is encased in the dough. The buns are covered and allowed to rise for about 30 minutes to yield a lighter and more tender bun after steaming.
The steamed pork buns are cooked for 8 to 10 minutes in the steamer, and expand almost double in size! Once uncovered, the buns are piping hot and extremely tender and soft, making it hard to eat only one! The steamed pork buns reheat very well too. I have some in my freezer for any time I get a craving!
The pork in this steamed bun recipe can be substituted for any of your favorite fillings, in one of my other favorite recipes I made steamed custard buns, also known as Nai wong bao.
This is my go-to steamed bun recipe, it has worked perfectly every time I’ve made the buns, and I promise that your friends and family will be very impressed! You can learn how to make the basic steamed bun recipe and how to shape the buns in the video below.
TIP #2 – The absolute most important step in making yeast raised dough is not to kill the yeast. It is one of the first steps in the process and the most integral. Yeast die at temperatures above 138°F!
TIP #3 – Temperatures between 100 to 110°F is optimal for hydrating active dry yeast. In the recipe, I indicate to combine warm water at 105°F with sugar and yeast. When the yeast mixture is allowed to sit for 10 minutes, you can see fermentation in action! The mixture starts to foam from the yeast eating the sugar and creating carbon dioxide. If you do not see any foam created, your yeast has died. Start over and make sure to use a digital thermometer to test the temperature before you add the yeast to the water.
Dough & pork recipe adapted by: International Cuisine, (Unbranded)