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Chris Amirault

Char Siu Bao--Cook-Off 2

137 posts in this topic

I made some steamed bao yesterday. I used the recipe in Eileen Yin-Fei Lo's Dim Sum Dumpling Book. I did make two changes to the recipe, I didn't have any whiskey in the house so I used brandy. My honey had solidified and I didn't feel like fussing with it so I used Lyle's Golden Syrup instead. The filling came out wonderful. The dough was another story. It kept tearing and I ended up with a bunch of holes. When steamed it was rather tough. Still tasted good and didn't stop me from snarfing down three of them, and eating the remaining pork mixture.

Edited by johannafin (log)


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I made some steamed bao yesterday.  I used the recipe in Eileen Yin-Fei Lo's Dim Sum Dumpling Book.  ...The dough was another story.  It kept tearing and I ended up with a bunch of holes.  When steamed it was rather tough. 

I don't have Eileen Lo's book, so I don't have any experience with her dough recipe. Like Kathy said, the Ellen-Leong Blonder recipe comes out perfect. Easy to handle too. If you don't want the bao to 'smile' (open up), avoid getting oil from the filling on the part of the dough where you pinch close.

Catherine, how long do you steam your baos? Steam over a rolling boil/high heat for 12-15 mins. Uncover quickly, making sure any condensed steam doesn't fall on the bao. Baos which are oversteamed turn yellowish and are slightly tougher.


Food Pix (plus others)

Please take pictures of all the food you get to try (and if you can, the food at the next tables)............................Dejah

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Well, I'm a definite amateur, but I decided to give it a shot. I chose Tepee's dough recipe, with some alterations:

For her starter, I just used one packet of active dry yeast since it looked to be about 2 tsps. I had my water at 104F, but I think it cooled down a bit before the yeast was added. I used just shy of 1/2 cup of white sugar, but the real change was the flour. I didn't have any cake flour on hand, but pastry is closer than all-purpose (I think I read somewhere that cake is 5-8% protein, pastry is under 8-9%, all purpose 9-12%, and bread flour 12-13%) so I chose that. However, the pastry flour I have is this crazy whole wheat stuff, so, my bao may end in disaster! Makes for an exciting night though.

Oh! I just looked at the recipe again, and my bao is going to be very exciting! When I read the starter list I just assumed it was all put together, and I thought this was rather different than how I make my pizza dough. Well, I read it wrong, apparently the 1.5 cups of flour go in after the 15 minutes of yeast activation.... and the 2 cups go in after one hour of waiting. Instead, I mixed 1.5 cups into the yeast in the beginning, and the last 2 cups into it pre-rising. So, who knows what is going to happen.


A scant hour has passed (OK, 50 minutes). My dough looks like it has tripled in size! I have a very warm kitchen, and I left the bowl on my gas stove which is always warm from the pilot light. My thermometer is reading about 90-95F on the stovetop...the middle of my dough is about 92F. I also covered the bowl with a damp cloth... Anyhow, my dough is oatmeal in color, with a grainy look to it due to the whole wheat. Minus the flour, I followed the directions. The only difference is I didn't use shortening since I don't have a bread hook. I just mixed it with my hands (the wooden spoon didn't work well)--very sticky! Also, although it seemed to have tripled in size before I touched it, it now seems less than doubled after all my kneading. It smells very wholesome... I think I might not put any filling in the bao since I have no clue what it will taste like with the whole wheat.


Well, I had to run to work at 5:30 this morning so I didn't have time to finish my writing. Let me pick up where I left off...

I let the dough sit for one more hour, and again it had tripled in size. I gave it a gentle tap and the thing deflated in mere seconds. I wonder why it balloons so much? My pizza/flatbread dough does not do this. Anyhow, I began to pick up the dough and my goodness, how it stuck to the sides! This dough was reminiscent of a human's neural networks: so many strands! It's as if I was hollowing out a pumpkin, with its flesh so stringy... that's what this dough was like. It was a rather interesting sight. Finally managing to remove the dough from the bowl, I placed it on a floured board (all purpose flour this time--I was too lazy to get the pastry flour out again).

I wasn't quite sure how I was going to form these buns without any filling (I didn't want to risk a filling on potentially inedible buns). At first I made a long roll, similar to the previous photos of forming bao. I cut it into 9 different dough balls, and then I made two pinches in the dough, gathering up all four sides (four sides to a circle? nonsense!) to make a little plus sign in the middle. I then let them rest for 30 minutes on parchment paper, and prepared the steamer by adding some water to my wok. After the time was up, and my water was boiling, I moved my bao to the wok. At this point the bao dough was very very flat... it had spread out miserably. I tried to fix a few of them, and prayed for the rest as I placed the bamboo top on the steamer.

I let them steam over boiling water for 12 minutes, then I removed them from the heat and discovered that the bao was HUGE! Ok, not enormous, but I wasn't expecting it to grow. They had perhaps nearly doubled in size... I didn't realize this would happen, and had not put an adequate amount of parchment paper down. When I removed the buns, some of the dough remained stuck to the bamboo. That's going to be real fun to clean...

The last part consists of the tasting (I had to at least try them before I left for work!), and I must say, they are indeed edible! I was surprised... they have that same texture I associate with downtown bao (mae sum pastry in the Market, for those of you from Seattle), and yet a distinctive whole wheat taste. At the moment I am finishing one bun... this one I sliced in the middle, and filled the crevice with tikka masala that comes out of a jar (more tomato-y and less creamy than the restaurant variety), and "nuked" for 20 seconds. It's really not all that bad. No where near the ballpark of real bao, but for whole wheat it's pretty good. I generally steer clear of whole wheat products. I imagine if it had a really delicious filling, like char siu, it would be even better.

I'd recommend the whole wheat version to anyone who is trying to eat a bit more healthy... also: it's VERY filling!

p.s. this is my first post!

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Welcome, Wndy -- great first post! Do you have a camera handy for the final product? What did you serve them with?

Thank you! I did take some photos of the final product, but unfortunately I'm still in the automatic camera age, so it will be some time before the roll is done, the photos developed and scanned, unfortunately.

I ate one of the buns with this tikka masala sauce I bought from the store... so far I haven't had a second. I really don't like whole wheat... ...why did I buy whole wheat flour? impusle buy? I think so...

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Hi All - reading this thread last month really put me in the mood to make these. I really enjoyed the process. And I loved the final product, much better than any I've had commercially.

I prepared the filling according to the recipe used by kiteless - I used strips of pork loin. I shredded the pork rather than chopping it to obtain a more tender texture (no, I do not have sensitive teeth, but I am always thinking about what will appeal most to the tastes of my 2 1/2 and 5 year old boys :wink: ).



For the dough I used Ellen Leong Blonder's Dough as described by Tepee upthread. I used vegetable oil instead of shortening, due to preference.



2 comments about the dough -

(1) I found it to be quite dry and I didn't even add the extra 1/4 cup flour for dusting.

(2) I found it very tricky to get it to hold to itself when I pinched it together to seal. Did anyone else find this to be a problem or is this a symptom of my dough being too dry?

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I Char Sui Bao'ed today. With only a modicum of success.


I followed Barbara Tropp's instructions for the dough and steaming, which I would not do again, as you can see by the photo. The filling was from Eileen's book.

The flavor of everything was great, but the filling didn't seem saucy enough, and the dough was flabby.

The greens however (ala Hot Sour Salty Sweet) were great.

The family gave a thumbs up to the char sui bao concept, but a thunbs down to this particular execution. Diana and Peter both mentioned that they would have liked more spice in the filling. Perhaps it's time for a Thai/Chinese fusion on this one to satisfy my masses.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

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2 comments about the dough -

(1) I found it to be quite dry and I didn't even add the extra 1/4 cup flour for dusting.

(2) I found it very tricky to get it to hold to itself when I pinched it together to seal.  Did anyone else find this to be a problem or is this a symptom of my dough being too dry?

Ahh...another convert!

My 2 sen:

1) Shaya, my dough was more wet than dry...which goes to show that one cannot religiously follow the precise amount of flour stated in the recipe. Different flours different properties. Don't add all the flour at once. Like making bread, I guess it's up to you to feel the consistency.

2) Make sure oil from the filling don't get in the edges where you'll be pinching...won't seal.

3) It's easier to pleat in a pattern. For me, a right-hander, I go anti-clockwise. After the last pleat, pinch real tight. However, baos do not necessarily have to be sealed tight. Some people like their baos to 'smile' (open up).

Edited by Tepee (log)


Food Pix (plus others)

Please take pictures of all the food you get to try (and if you can, the food at the next tables)............................Dejah

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The flavor of everything was great, but the filling didn't seem saucy enough, and the dough was flabby.

Well...that's the most important part...great flavor. :smile: For the filling, I wouldn't make it too saucy, though, I myself am tempted to do so too. You'll have to contend with soggy baos. I suppose if you like to have more sauce, you'll have to thicken it considerably.


Food Pix (plus others)

Please take pictures of all the food you get to try (and if you can, the food at the next tables)............................Dejah

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The flavor of everything was great, but the filling didn't seem saucy enough, and the dough was flabby.

Well...that's the most important part...great flavor. :smile: For the filling, I wouldn't make it too saucy, though, I myself am tempted to do so too. You'll have to contend with soggy baos. I suppose if you like to have more sauce, you'll have to thicken it considerably.

Absolutely. I will bao again. I will try a differnt dough, and I know more going into it.

Oddly enough, the pleating was not at all a problem. I am a very accomplished pot sticket pleater, so working the hand(s) in pleating motion was very simple. I did, however, hava a bit of trouble keeping the edges of the dough at thin as it should have been. This was a bit more taxing that pot stickers, but I've not done these before.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

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Made these for my grandson and Chinese students last week. I made 5 dozen!


The filling:


Our eight year old grandson Soulin, and our dog Atticus. Who got the last bite?




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I've been a kind of detached admirer of char siu (I've liked eating it when I've had it, and it's common enough in Japan), but had never made any. I made a 1.5kg cut of boneless pork loin into char siu style roast loin of pork, leaving myself casting about for thoughts of different ways to use it.

A chunk of it went into baked char siu bao from jackal10's recipe:

I use the recipe from Florence Lin's wonderful "Complete Book of Chinese Noodles, Dumplings and Breads". I wish someone would reprint it, as the secondhand price is astronomical. Its basically a saltless semi-sweet dough. My adaptation below...

- click here for the full post, on page one of this topic. I'd have liked to steam them, but I don't have stacking or otherwise high-volume steaming kit, so I chose to bake. I've never come across baked bao before. The recipe yielded 16.



- I chose to dice the meat fine, about 1/16".



- I used 11.3% gluten flour, Kitanokaori brand. The volume measurement weighed 400g and my two eggs weighed 96g without their shells. I thought the dough was stiff, and added a total of 25ml more water to get it where I wanted it. I was looking for the fluffier bread as seen in Japanese steamed nikuman (Japanese name for meat (char siu) bao). I gave it 5 or 10 minutes kneading on the breadmaker's pizza cycle (in fact xian and dough went together on the same night, and I assembled the following day, from which the above is the first picture).



- again I had in mind the nikuman shape (same as for steamed char siu bao, with the joints on top). I didn't check the style book for the baked version until after, so my bao are unorthodox, I think. Neither did I try to exactly recreate the steamed bao form.

Lined up for rising:


After 2.5hrs at room temp (about 24C or 25C at a guess):


- I would have let them keep rising, but a friend was coming over and for convenience I got them in the oven after 3 hours. Brushed with a casual piggy squiggle of beaten egg that didn't hold its definition and baked per the recipe:


By a mysterious Sino-caledonian alchemy I'd created "batch bao".





- the filling was moist but could have done with being a little looser. I'll know what I'm looking for in the frying pan next time. Having fully pre-salted the char siu (4-day marinade in soy measured to give 0.5% w/w of the pork), I was wary of the 2 tbsps of soy, but put then in anyway and left out the salt. I'm glad I did. I'll bring the soy back to 1tbsp next time.

Cold a day or two later:


Edited by Blether (log)

QUIET!  People are trying to pontificate.

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