BBQ Pork Buns – So Good People Will Bao Before Them!

I know puns are the lowest form of humor, but I just can’t stay away.  I also can’t seem to stay away from these bao.  I had never had one (or even heard of them) until maybe two years ago.  Fast forward to last weekend, and I’m spending a few hours in the kitchen making 3 dozen.

When I went to buy sesame seeds at one of the Asian markets a few weeks ago, I came across flour that was specifically for bao.  It is a much finer flour which helps create an exceptionally smooth dough, but apart from that I can’t figure out what else is different.  This tried and true recipe comes courtesy of my (future) mother-in-law.


I finally had the chance to put our new roasting pan to use (thanks mom!).  As you can see there was a bit of overcrowding on the rack, but over the few hours it cooked everything turned out fine.


You know at Chipotle when they take meat off the grill and cut it up super fast?  That’s how I felt dicing up all this meat.  Although I took it much slower, since I didn’t have a chain-mail glove to protect my hand.


I tried taking a few pictures of the process of filling/shaping the bao, but they didn’t turn out too well.  I’d recommend watching this video because, well, I don’t think I can put clearly into words the process.  It’s not overly complicated, just lots of hands/fingers moving around.


I opted to steam them before freezing them, that way in the future we could just zap them in the microwave to eat.  Our steamer held 4 at a time, so the process took quite a while.  As one batch was steaming I rolled, filled, and shaped the next ones.


BBQ Pork Bao


Pork Marinade

  • 2-3 lbs pork butt, boneless 
  • 3/4 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup rice wine or dry sherry

Pork Sauce

  • 1 T hoisin sauce
  • 1 T ketchup
  • 2 T oyster sauce
  • 2 T soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 t pepper
  • 2 T cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1 T dry sherry
  • 1 onion, diced


  • 5 cups flour (all purpose is fine, can use special bao flour)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 3 T vegetable oil
  • 1 1/3 T yeast (instant)
  • 1 1/2 cups water


For the pork

In a bowl mix together the marinade ingredients Slice the pork into strips about 2 inches wide and 5 inches long.  Combine in a large ziploc bag the pork and marinade and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.

When ready to cook, preheat oven to 425°F. Add a rack to a roasting pan and fill the pan with water so that it comes a few inches below the the rack.

Place the pan in the oven and roast for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 325°F and roast for another 30-40 minutes, turning and basting frequently (every 10-15 minutes) with the remaining marinade.

In a wok or large pan heat a small amount of vegetable oil and the diced onion.  While cooking dice the meat into bite size pieces.  Add all of the sauce ingredients, and cook until the sauce has thickened.  Set aside.

For the dough

Combine all the dough ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer and knead for 5 minutes.  Place in a lightly oiled bowl (covered) and rise for 1.5 hours.  Divide the risen dough into 32 portions, either by weight or continuously halving pieces.

Lightly flour the dough and roll out to about 1/4 inch thick.  Place the dough in the palm of your hand and spoon in a tablespoon on filling.  Place a fold of dough between two fingers of your free hand, and pinch together with the dough next to it.  Work all the way around the filling, gradually closing the dough.  This will create a pleated look.  Twist/pinch the top of the dough closed when you get all the way around.

Steam 10-12 minutes, serve warm.  If you want to freeze them, let cool completely before doing so.

One thought on “BBQ Pork Buns – So Good People Will Bao Before Them!

  1. Pingback: A Bakers & Best Year In Review | Bakers & Best

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