Images of eating Char Siu Bao (Chinese pork bun) with my parents at a bustling dim sum shop in Ipoh still flashes vividly in my memories after more than forty years.
This childhood memory is sweet and nostalgic. The excitement of waiting for the waitress taking out the steamingly hot Char Siu Pao from the dim sum trolly made me smile in reminiscence.

The soft and tender bun, the oozing soy-based thick gravy, and the meaty filling weaving seamlessly into a perfect culinary masterpiece. Today, this Chinese steamed bun is still taking the center stage of all dim sum spread in every Chinese restaurant.

Char Siu Bao or char siu Pao ( 叉烧包) is the most famous classic Cantonese dim sum. Delectable and exotic, a meal of dim sum can truly be one of the best you’ve ever had.

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steamed Char siu bao

Dim sum is a delightfully Chinese delicacy usually served with tea. It literally translates to “touch the heart,” which means “take what your heart picks.” The culinary art of preparing dim sum has been long-held by the Cantonese in Southern China.

Cha Siu Bao is a bun filled with barbecue pork. Barbecue pork is called Char Siu (or char siew) in Chinese, hence the name Cha Siu Bao. This pork bun is generally eaten from morning to early afternoon and usually served with Chinese tea, which is called yum cha ( drinking tea ) by the people in Hong Kong. Nowadays, you can also find barbecue in many lunch menus in Chinese restaurants all over the world.

Note: You will notice that I use chicken in the recipe. Char Siu Bao is filled with pork traditionally in China. However, there are some restaurants filled it with chicken meat, which is equally delicious. If you like to use pork, just substitute the chicken with 80% lean pork and 20% pork fat. It will turn out fantastic.

Char Siu means barbecue meat, which can be any meat. There are stores in most Chinese community sell this type of barbecue meat as the filling of the bun. You can also make it by yourself.  If not, follow this recipe, and it will turn out just like using the barbecue meat.

The buns are steamed by high heat to let the dough expand rapidly and burst open at the top, partially revealing the meat filling. This steamed pork bun is best to serve hot straight from the steamer.

The buns of the classic recipe are filled with the stir-fried trimmings of roasted pork butt which is slightly fatty but tender. You can use chicken meat instead of pork so that it is suitable for people of all races and religions.

char siu bao

The technique of making the dough is similar to that of making bread. The main difference is to use, multiple types of leavening agents to achieve the tender, bouncy, and bursting surface. Of course, it is steamed, not baked. The buns are cooked in less than ten minutes due to the intense heat generated by the steam in the enclosed steamer.

Update 2018

I have received many comments and questions since I posted this article in 2016.  As such I would like to add the following information that had not been written then.  I hope you will find the answers to some questions that are not available in the original text.

  1. Some people may think that the use of yeast and baking powder concurrently is not necessary, but if you only use yeast alone and treat I like making bread, the texture is not fluffy enough.  You will notice that the texture of Bao is much fluffy than any bread or buns.
  2. Most of the chefs use icing sugar in the recipe.  If you do not have icing sugar, use castor o granulated sugar.  Coarse sugar is too rough and will not produce a smooth texture as desired.
  3. The traditional recipe is called Char Siu Bao, which is filled with barbecue pork. The pork should be cut into small pieces (do not mince it) which consists of a quarter of fat.  Small pieces of pork have better mouthfeel and are preferred to minced pork. Some people prefer to use chicken instead of pork for this recipe. Chicken is especially popular among the Dim Sum restaurants in Malaysia in which they want to cater to the Muslims who do not eat pork.
  4. You can use butter instead of shortening.  Butter has a better flavor than shortening but is a little messy to handle. This is entirely up to your description. The reason I use shortening is that the color is light and able to produce near-white buns as you get in the restaurant.  If you do not mind the color is a little yellowish, use butter which does not contain a trans fatty acid.

Have this Char Siu Bao in a Dim Sum restaurant nearby. (Not made by me, which I prefer less fat and more juicy. )[/caption]

How to make Char Siu Bao like the professional chef

1. The meat filling

How to prepare the juicy filling

char siu bao filling

You can use more water than stated to cook the filling. It is important to cook it until the gravy is thick enough. If it is too thick, the filling will not be juicy. If it is too diluted, it is difficult to seal the ingredients in the dough. I have water as part of the ingredients to cook the filling in the recipe, but you may notice that I did not add any when I demonstrate in the video. This entirely depends on you. As long as the consistency is just like what I show in the video, it should be good to go.

What other meat is suitable besides pork for making Char Siu Pao?

Traditionally, barbecue pork ( char siu 叉烧) is used. You can use chicken breast meat as it is suitable for all races and religions. The flavor is very close to that of pork.

When you prepare the filling, there are a few points that you need to note:
1. Sauté the onion until it turns fragrant before adding the chicken meat.
2. Combine the cornflour with water to form a slurry before mixing it with the meat, or you can just mix EVERYTHING together. It really does not matter.

2. The pastry

Choose the best flour to make the Char Siu Bao

Use the right type of flour to make Char Siu Bao. I have seen different types of flour suggested by chefs, and I would like to elaborate a little on this subject.

The suitable types of flour for making Char Siu Bao is Pao flour or Hong Kong flour. The low percentage of protein of these types of flour will produce the optimum amount of gluten required for bouncy and soft buns. Both are bleached and can produce white buns normally seen in dim sum stores.

The difference between Pao flour and Hong Kong flour is that yeast is added to Pao flour, and it is not added to Hong Kong flour. You can add more dry yeast even if you use Pao flour just in case the yeast is inactive. If you have difficulty to get Pao flour, you can use cake flour as it contains a similar percentage of gluten, but the color of the Pao will be slightly yellowish.

The difference between Pao flour and Hong Kong flour

Freshly milled flour is bleached and the natural color is yellowish. Bleaching will not only whiten the flour to make it more appealing, but it also breaks down the gluten level further and makes the flour softer. Wheat flour contains protein and when it comes to contact with water, it develops gluten, which gives elasticity and strength to baked goods. Different baking items need different percentages of protein for optimum gluten development. Here is the summary:

  • Cake flour – 6-8% protein
  • Pastry flour, Pao flour, Hong Kong flour ( also known as Waterlily flour = 香港水仙面粉) 8-10% protein
  • Self-raising flour – 8-9% protein
  • All-purpose and plain flour – 10-12% protein
  • Bread flour – 12-14% protein
char siu bao


3 Leavening agents to ensure it is soft and tender

There are three leavening agents used in the recipe.

Both baking powder (sodium bicarbonate) and yeast are used to achieve the bouncy and soft texture. Both are quite common in baking, but you may be unfamiliar with ammonium bicarbonate.

Ammonium bicarbonate ( commonly known as 臭粉 In Chinese ) is a leavening agent nowadays seldom used. It is also hardly used in any western baking products. It is used in the recipe to serve a special purpose- to produce the signature bursting surface of the Pao. The professional finishing of Char Siu Bao should be burst ( 开花 ) into three or four parts on the surface, much like the crevices on top of a hot cross bun. It is created by using ammonium bicarbonate instead of cutting lines on the surface as for bread.

You can omit ammonium bicarbonate as it does not contribute to the flavor of the Char Siu Bao. The only difference is that the surface may not burst into parts, the ‘professional’ finishing of Char Siu Bao.

char siu bao as dim sum

The right way to knead the dough

char siu bao

Dough making is quite similar to making bread. Some chefs prefer to prepare a starter just like for making bread, as in this recipe. In this case, part of the flour will be used to prepare the starter. The flour will ferment longer which results in a better flavor.

Some less common ingredients in dough making explained

Is lye water necessary in the recipe?

Lye water ( 碱水 )- some recipes suggest adding lye water into the dough. Our recipe has no lye water. There is a problem if you add too much lye water as it will leave a bitter taste to the Pao. I do not use lye water in this recipe.

How about include wheat starch in the recipe?

Wheat starch ( 澄面粉) can be added to the recipe in a smaller amount. Wheat starch can produce a very soft and bouncy texture since wheat starch has no protein. The Pao made by following this recipe is quite soft and there is no need to add wheat starch.

How about adding vinegar to the recipe?

Vinegar is added for a purpose. Since wheat starch has no protein, and Pao or Hong Kong flour has a low protein content, the development of gluten that contributes to the strength, and texture will be limited. The ideal pH for gluten development is 5-6. This will encourage gluten development and produce a more extensible (easier to stretch) dough. Vinegar helps to maintain the pH of the dough so that it is not too alkaline due to the use of baking powder and ammonium bicarbonate. This will produce Pao with good texture and yet is bouncy and soft.

However, I have tested my pao recipe and noticed that as long as the oil and the flour are white, there is no need to add any vinegar. Therefore, I do not include vinegar in my recipe.

How to make the bun whiter than snow white

A number of recipes suggest that vinegar can whiten the dough. However, we have tried to make Pao with and without vinegar, and the color of the Pao is identical.

The answer to the snowy white Char Siu Bao lies in the color of the flour and oil that you use. Hong Kong flour and Pao flour are bleached and will produce white Pao. If you use the standard cake or all-purpose flour, the color of the Char Siu Bao will be slightly yellowish.

The type of oil you use will affect the color of the Pao. If you use vegetable or animal oil, the Pao will be slightly yellowish. We used shortening of soy origin to produce a snowy white Pao. If you want to use a healthier alternative, use unbleached flour and vegetable oil instead of bleached flour and shortening, The flavor will not be affected. But the Pao will not be as white as those from a professional dim sum shop.

3. Wrapping, steaming, and storage

How to wrap the filling- best to watch the video

Filling of char siu bao

The best way to understand how to wrap the filing is to watch the embedded video. The following is the summary:

1. Roll out the dough to a round shape, but leave the center slightly thicker as this is the bottom part of the Pao.
2. Wrap and pleat the dough to seal the filling.
3. It is not necessary to seal the Pao dough tightly, Just folding and slightly squeezing with your fingers is sufficient. This is different from shaping the pie crust, where the line formed by you will stay even after baking. Most of the folding lines will disappear after steaming due to the strong leavening action by baking powder and yeast. It is (traditionally) acceptable if the dough is ‘erupted’ due to the rapid expansion of volume during steaming and review part of the filling.
4. You can leave the bun at room temperature for twenty minutes before steaming.  You do not need to wait until it doubles in size like making bread. The baking powder + yeast +  ammonium bicarbonate will raise the buns properly.

The right way to steam the Char Siu Pao

1. Place each Pao seal side up on a small piece of oiled baking paper. Let the Pao rest for 15 minutes before steaming.
2. Place the Pao in a steamer tray. Make sure the water is boiled rapidly.
3. Steam the Pao on high heat for eight minutes with plenty of water and covered at all times during the entire steaming process.
4. Please note the bigger the paos, the longer you need to steam them. There will be a starchy taste for paos that are not fully cooked. It is harmless to steam a little longer than suggested.

How to keep the Char Siu Pao for an extended period

1. You may want to make a large batch of Char Siu Bao but and keep part of it. The best way is to steam only the number of pao you want, and froze the raw pao (with the cooked filling inside). The is the same way how to keep the raw dough of bread in the bakery.
2. Place the freshly wrapped bao on a large baking tray.   Put the tray of bao in the freezer until the baos are hard enough.  Keep them in a plastic container and keep in the freezer until you want to steam them.
3. Arrange the frozen bao on a steamer tray and wait until it is at room temperature. You can now steam the bao just like the fresh one.

My proven Char Siu Bao recipe with the juicy filling

Yield: 12

Char Siu Bao Recipe

Char Siu Bao Recipe

Char Siu Bao is the most popular item in the Cantonese dim sum repertoire.

Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes


Dough starter

Other ingredients of the dough:




  1. Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a pan or wok, sauté the onion for 1 to 2 minutes until soft and transparent. Add the diced chicken breast meat and sauté until the chicken is cooked.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients. Stir and cook until the gravy thickens.
  3. Transfer to a plate and let it cool.


  1. Dissolve the dry yeast in water.
  2. Add 200g of pao flour and icing sugar. Mix well and cover for an hour.
  3. Add the ingredients under the title 'Other ingredients of the dough' into the starter mixture and knead for 8 to 10 minutes.
  4. Cover the dough with a piece of damp cloth and let it proves for 30 minutes, or until the size has doubled.
  5. Divide the dough into 50g portions. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes.
  6. Flatten the dough with a rolling pin to form a circle of 8-10 cm in diameter. Place 30g of filling in the middle, wrap and pleat the dough to seal. Place it on a 1.5 inches (4cm) square baking paper, sealed side up. Rest for 15 minutes before steaming.
  7. Place the Char Siu Pao in a steamer, leave about 2-3 cm gap in between each Char Siu Pao. Steam in a preheated steamer on high heat for 8 minutes.
  8. Remove the Char Siu Pao immediately from the steamer and cool them on a rack to prevent the bottom of the Char Siu Pao from becoming soggy.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:

12 baos

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 410Total Fat: 12gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 38mgSodium: 643mgCarbohydrates: 57gFiber: 2gSugar: 16gProtein: 18g

This data was provided and calculated by Nutritionix on 6/1/2019

    53 replies to "Char Siu Bao Recipe"

    • […] must be familiar with the Hong Kong egg tarts if you like Cantonese dim sum. Whilst the barbecue meat bun is the signature of the savory dim sum, the most lovable dessert will be none other than the Hong […]

    • […] the common food we eat daily, Japanese and Korean food is the close second. I want to focus on Chinese, Malay, Indonesian, Thai and Vietnamese food that I am best with, but not sure what the readers […]

    • KP Kwan

      Hi, this is KP Kwan. I am happy to see you at this comment area, as you have read through my recipe. I am happy to reply any questions and comments as soon as possible.

      • Patricia

        Hello KP Kwan,

        Many thanks for the recipe!

        After the 8 mins in the steamer, how do you remove it from the steamer without deflating the bao? Everytime I remove the cover, it sucks out all the air from the bao and I end up with a flat char siew bao!

        Help please!


        • KP Kwan

          Hi Patricia,
          The problem of deflating buns is one that I have not encountered so far. However, I do try to think of a few reasons as below:
          1. Make sure you use the flour that is suitable. Use Pau flour if available, if not then use self-raising flour (self-raising flour contains baking powder so please omit the baking powder in the recipe.). Cake flour may not have enough gluten to hold the shape well.
          2. Water content – if the dough too wet then it may not raise probably.
          3. Is it fully cook? Only fully cooked bao will maintain the shape. Steam a bit longer if unsure. Don’t worry about over steaming. Some Dim Sum store re-steam the pao before serving the customers.
          4. Is your yeast fresh? Fresh yeast will rapidly raise the volume when it is heated up in the steamer (Same goes to making bread in the oven. We term the rapid increase of volume in the oven as oven spring- bounce up like a spring.) Fresh yeast may be the key factor here too.

          Hope this is helpful.

          Thanks for trying.

          KP Kwan

    • Catherine

      Hi KP Kwan, love your recipes and blog. As a Malaysian living in the US, it is very hard to find a Malaysian restaurant unless we live near to it. Chinese food here is very different, very Americanized. Again, unless we live near a city with a Chinatown where we could get our hands on authentic chinese food. Your recipes are wonderful and very educating. Now i can make them when ever i miss Malaysian food. Thank you KP.

      • KP Kwan

        Dear Catherine,
        Thank you for your kind words and it’s my pleasure to share.
        KP Kwan

    • […] Gow is the transliteration of the Chinese term 蝦餃, means shrimp dumpling. Along with Shumai and Char Siu Bao, they form the triumvirate of the world famous Cantonese Dim Sum. Har Gow is by far the most […]

    • Liz

      Hi KP Kwan! Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful recipe. I have always wanted to make a soft and white char siu pao. Other techniques are more complicated and requires more ingredients. Yours are simple and easy to understand. I have one question, do you have these ingredients listed in US measurements, instead of metrics? I tried to convert it but it doesn’t to seem right. I am greatly appreciate for your help! Thank you, KP!

      • KP Kwan

        Hi Liz,
        1 tablespoon is 15g, 1 teaspoon is 5g, 1 cup is 250g.

        However, this is a rough calculation, and it depends on the density of the ingredients. That is why I have converted all the measurements to weight, which is the most accurate method.

        I strongly suggest you purchase a digital weighing machine with accuracy down to 1g, which I use it in the kitchen in my cafe and works very well.

        Meanwhile, try to use the above guidelines. I also have just found a conversion table as below and hope it is useful to you.

        KP Kwan

    • Liz

      Also KP, can I use granulated sugar in replacement of icing sugar? Thank you!

      • KP Kwan

        Hi Liz,

        I have not tried to use granulated sugar so far. I think it should work too as long as you knead the dough until the sugar is fully dissolved. With icing sugar, it should be easier as it is in the powder form.

        KP Kwan

    • […] Pao (包) is the favorite Cantonese food for breakfast among the Chinese Southern Chinese or Cantonese cuisine comes from the Guangdong province of China. It is one of eight culinary traditions of Chinese cooking, and many immigrants from this area spread the culture outside its home country. In fact, when many Americans think about Chinese food, they are thinking of Cantonese cuisine. […]

    • Tom

      Why have you filled a pork bun with chicken 😐

      • KP Kwan

        Hi Tom,

        Thanks for pointing out the confusion. I have just added the following note in my post:

        “You will notice that I use chicken in the recipe. Char Siu Bao is filled with pork traditionally in China. However, there are some restaurants filled it with chicken meat, which is equally delicious. If you like to use pork, just substitute the chicken with 80% lean pork and 20% pork fat. It will turn out fantastic.”

        So if you like pork, go ahead and hope you enjoy it.

        KP Kwan

    • Mun Yee Wong

      Hi KP,
      Tried your recipes twice recently, although I made my own fillings. The second time, the pau dough turned out wonderful, so pliable, therefore easy to fill and pleat. I used butter instead of shortening the second time because I don’t want to use shortening anymore in my cooking. Don’t know what goes inside the shortening.
      Anyway, everyone who tried had only good reviews for the dough. This is a keeper, a recipe I will use from now onwards. Thanks KP. Keep them recipes coming!

      • KP Kwan

        Hi Mun Yee,
        Glad to know the recipe works.
        Butter has much better flavor than shortening. Alternatively, you can use lard (the traditional way), but some people are concerned about the health aspect of it.
        Shortening contains trans fatty acid which is known to increase cardiovascular risk. The reason I use shortening is that the color is the lightest, and able to produce near-white buns. The color of the bao is a little yellowish if you use butter, but I guess it does not matter.

        KP Kwan

    • May K

      Hey KP.
      Thanks for your bao recipe. Couple days ago I made the very first char siew bao in my life. Tho I loved to cook and bake but never done any steam buns. It was awesome!! The bao just turn out right for the very first time. Today I am going to make the red bean steam buns. Will be using your dough recipe. Love it.

      • KP Kwan

        Dear May,

        So happy to know that it works well!
        Send me your virtual red bean buns and let me have a share 🙂

        KP Kwan

        • May K

          Hey KP.

          My second attempt was a disappointment. Not sure what went wrong. The dough is not soft and pliable enough. It breaks when I try to wrap the buns. But this time I used different flour. First of all I cant get Hongkong Flour. Been shopping around to get steam buns flour.

          I’ll give another go and see how it turns out. Finger cross.

          • KP Kwan

            Hi May,

            There are many reasons to end up with a less pliable dough. But I have some thoughts here which may be helpful.
            1. Use the normal cake flour if you can’t get the special Hong Kong flour or Pao flour. I understand that it is difficult to get outside Asia.
            2. Add more water if it is too dry. The dough should be quite easy to handle and not sticky even with a bit more water. The problem may be due to the inaccuracy of the measurement, or due to the weather. (My measurement is based on what I did it in Malaysia).

            I hope it will turn out well in your next attempt. Good luck and do let me know.

            KP Kwan

            • May K

              Hey KP.

              Just then I made my fourth attempt. It was a good dough.

              Your were right, the water measurement might be a bit tricky. The thrid time I used a different flour. It was good except I need to parctice more on the wrapping.

              As then I made the fourth time, I add matcha and more water. I used canola oil instead of shortening. It turns out really well.

              Its hard to find cake flour in a supermarket here and the cake specialty shop do not sell flour. All they sell is cake mix. Just have to get the flour from the Asian Grocery.

              I’m going to keep this recipe.

              Once again thank you for sharing your recipe and all the tips.

            • KP Kwan

              Dear May,

              Pleased to know that it works.
              Ove here (Malaysia) we can get cake flour in any supermarket.
              As for the shortening, by all means, change it to canola oil. The traditional Dim Sum master uses lard, but shortening is less yellow, so the pao will not turn out yellowish.

              Thank you for following me. It is my pleasure to share, and more will come.

              KP Kwan

    • Carole

      I am so excited to try this recipe. Your explanation of how to make is so detailed I don’t know how I could go wrong. On my wat to Aisian market to get pao/hong king flour. Will let you know how hey turn out

      • KP Kwan

        Hi Carole,
        Wish you good luck and have a successful Char Siu Bao cooking session. Hope my explanation is clear enough.

        KP Kwan.

    • Debra

      Thank you for the delicious dough.recipe. Easy to make with very fluffy results! So happy!

      Appreciate the tips section too!!

      This recipe is a keeper!

      • KP Kwan

        Hi Debra,
        Very happy to know that you make the Char Siu Bao successfully. Congrats 🙂
        KP Kwan

    • Chin

      Ive tried a couple of your recipes. They all turned out pretty good. Very reliable recipes.
      Now I’m attempting to make the Pao but just the dough . I’ve taken a look at the recipe for print and the video that you have shared. There is a discrepancy in terms of the time for resting the starter dough. In the print is 30min whereas in the video is 1 h. Please advise whichh timing should I be following. Thanks.


      • KP Kwan

        Hi Moi,
        The goal of resting is to relax the gluten of the dough and give a bit of time for the yeast to activate. The time required is not that crucial which means it can be anything between half to one hour, or even longer.
        I will make the amendment in the recipe to one hour soon to avoid any confusion.
        Thank you for pointing out the discrepancy.
        Best regards,
        KP Kwan

    • Kimberly Navarro

      Hi KP Kwan.
      Thank you for sharing a very detailed and informative recipe. I just want to ask one question regarding baking powder. I always experience the yellow dots on my steamed buns every time I´m making it. I understand that it is because of undissolved baking powder. I tried a lot of techniques like dissolving with water first, putting it together with the dry ingredients or just pour it onto the dough mixture. I do not know what to do. I want the fluffiness of buns with baking powder. Can I omit baking powder or can I use just yeast? Thank you.
      Best Regards,

      • KP Kwan

        Hi Kimberly,
        This topic is interesting as I have not encountered the yellow dot problem.
        I do have some doubt that the baking powder causes the dots. I add half a teaspoon of baking powder to a tablespoon of water just now to test what happens, and it dissolves immediately without forming lumps. Therefore the dots cannot be caused by the undissolved baking powder.
        Yeast alone may not be sufficient to do the trick. That is why ammonium bicarb and baking powder are added to make it very fluffy. Will the dots come from the sauce of the filling? Maybe you can do a test by making a small amount of pao without the filling, and some without the baking powder. That will probably reveal the reason behind.

        Best regards,

        KP Kwan

        • Eri

          I have the same problem with yellow dots. The first and second time I made them, the yellow dots did not come out, but after all the buns came out with those dots, I removed the baking soda which is my replacement for ammonium bicarbonate, but the dots still show. I don’t know if it’s the order in which I mix all the ingredients, whatever is going wrong. can you tell me how you mix the ingredients of dough starter with the other ingredients of the dough. Please

          • KP Kwan

            Hi Eri,
            I never encounter yellow spots on the Char Siu Bao before, so I can only share my opinion with you rather than offering a specific solution.
            I have read some people who said that the yellow spots cause the undissolved baking powder. Base on this finding, I suggest you can reserve two tablespoons of water (minus from the amount making the starter), and dissolve the baking powder in the water first before adding to the dough. This step will not harm even the problem is not due to the undissolved baking powder.
            I hope that will solve your problem.
            KP Kwan

    • Li

      Hi Kwan,

      how long does the bao last in room temperature before getting spoiled?
      and if only last one day in room temperature, is there something can add to prolong the bao before getting spoiled in room temperature? thx

      • KP Kwan

        Hi Li,
        Once the bao is cooked, it should be eaten immediately (the best), or you may keep overnight for a day the most.
        If you want to keep it longer, wrap or keep in a closed container and keep refrigerated. Reheat (steam or microwave) before serving.
        KP Kwan

    • mangolow

      why my pau always shrinked on the surface once open from the the steamer. i did leave for a few second after I off the heat.

      • KP Kwan

        Hi Mangolow,
        There are several reasons but not sure which one hits you.
        1. Overproofing: It may weaken the gluten development, which may cause wrinkly.
        2. A sudden change of temperature. You might have prevented it by leaving it a while before removing it from the steamer.
        So my best bet for your case is to reduce the standing time after wrapping the filling. Not wait until it doubles in size as making bread, but steam about 15-20 minutes after wrapping/shaping.

        I hope this helps and work 🙂
        KP Kwan

    • Sue Kay

      I just tried making the pao and they are soooo good! The buns and especially the meat filling. I am so happy with what I made. I kept a few in the chiller so I can warm them up every time I have a hankering for meat buns.

      • KP Kwan

        Hi Sue Kay,
        I am glad to know that you like this recipe. Enjoy the Char Siu Bao 🙂
        KP Kwan

    • Fabian


      WIll there be a difference if I use Instant yeast?Thanks.

      • KP Kwan

        Hi Fabian,
        There is no difference and the quantity required is the same.
        KP Kwan

    • Yuuki

      Hello, I am trying out this recipe. In your instructions, you mention about the 200g of flour for the starter dough. But you don’t mention about the 400g of flour. Is that to be combined for a total of 600g of flour in the mixture?

      • KP Kwan

        Hi Yuuki,
        Yes, you are correct. 200g of flour for the starter, plus 400g in the ‘Other ingredients of the dough’. The total is 600g.
        I have changed the instruction below to make it clearer. Thanks for pointing out the confusion.

        1. Dissolve the dry yeast in water.
        2. Add 200g of pao flour and icing sugar. Mix well and cover for an hour.
        3. Add the ingredients under the title ‘Other ingredients of the dough’ into the starter mixture and knead for 8 to 10 minutes.

        KP Kwan

        • Yuuki

          I attempted in making this several times, and also using the baker’s ammonia. Still, I cannot get the top to crack open. Am I doing something wrong?

          • KP Kwan

            Hi Yuuki,

            You need ammonium bicarbonate to creak it open. Please look for the title in the article “3. Leavening agents to ensure it is soft and tender”.
            If it does not crack open, you can increase a bit of the amount. The smell is terrible before cooking, but it will be gone entirely after steaming.

            Best regards,
            Kp Kwan

    • Leslie

      Hello, how to know if the baking powder is fully dissolved? I have knead them for 10 minutes and still yellow spots on the dough after steaming. The dough tastes perfect, just that the yellow spots is the only problem.

      • KP Kwan

        Hi Leslie,
        I suggest adding the yeast to the water, stir and let it sits for at least five minutes. It should have softened and dissolved. You can also pour the yeast/water mixture into the flour and sugar instead, and eliminate any chances to add the lumps of yeast if there is any.
        I hope this is working for you.
        KP Kwan

        • Leslie

          Ok got it! Also what I mean is when the baking powder is not fully dissolved, yellowish spots developed. How to avoid it? Should I first add the baking powder to the yeast/water mixture stir it well before adding the ”other ingredients”? That way it will be dissolved? Let me know your thoughts. Thanks!

          • KP Kwan

            Hi Leslie,
            Although the yellow spot problem never happens to me, I think it is more likely due to the yeast that is not fully dissolved, rather than the baking powder.
            My rationale is that yeast is yellow, and baking powder is white. I used to make cakes by mixing the baking powder with the flour, not by dissolving it in water or juice.
            KP Kwan

    • Christy


      I can’t seem to find pau flour or hong kong flour near me or online to buy.
      Can you recommend a link to buy it?


      • KP Kwan

        Hi Christy,
        I do not know where to buy online since I got it in the local baking supplier in Kuala Lumpur.
        You can substitute it with regular flour (cake flour) if it is unavailable.
        KP Kwan

    • KL Yee

      Hi hi, I want to congratulate you on your recipe! I made a batch yesterday and it was the best result i have achieved some far. Most importantly, there is no strong ammonia smell after steaming. Thank you very very much.
      1) As i didnt have shortening so i replaced with butter based on 1 to 1 ratio. May I know if i were to use canola oil, will it be the same ratio?
      2) When I start rolling the individual dough, there is a bit of tension as it tends to pull back even after resting for like 15mins, do i need to wait till it double in size again and relax before rolling them?
      3) After the putting in the ingredients and shaped into a bun, why does your step doesn’t include resting the bao for a while before steaming?
      4) For your dough resting time, what is your room temperature? The question is that i’m unable to tell when is the dough ready at any stage.

      • KP Kwan

        Hi Yee,
        Thank you for trying the recipe.
        1. I will use the same amount (weight to weight) to substitute with any oil.
        2. You do not need to wait double in size at this stage.
        3. After wrapping, let the Pao rest for 15 minutes before steaming. (When the Pao becomes slightly expanded.) Thanks for informing me as I left out this step in the recipe. (and amended).
        4. My room temperature is about 25 to 30 degrees Celcius. I usually just by looking at it visually, as room temperature can be varied.
        I hope this is useful to you 🙂
        KP Kwan

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