Siopao Asado! Soft, fluffy steamed buns with juicy, and tender braised pork filling. Learn how to make it with my recipe which includes detailed step-by-step photos, and lots of tips to help you achieve the best result.
What is Siopao Asado?
Siopao asado is Filipino's own adaptation of Chinese char siu bao (cha siu bao).
Instead of using char siu pork, these steamed buns are filled with bits of pork braised in char siu sauce but without spices and red coloring.
It is a simplified char siu bao, in a nutshell. That means you can make this anytime without using pre-made Chinese BBQ pork.
How to Make Steamed BBQ Pork Buns
Making steamed pork buns may look daunting but don't worry, I'll show you how to make the whole experience easier and more enjoyable!
Splitting the effort into two parts (i.e. 2 days) is the key to making it less tedious. Here's how it goes down:
- Cook the filling using my easy pork bun filling recipe. Let it set in the fridge.
- Make the dough
- Proof the dough in the fridge and let it rise overnight.
- Shape and fill the dough - remove the dough from the fridge 1 to 2 hours before shaping. Knead for about 2 minutes to remove all the air.
- Let the buns rest
- Steam the buns
This is just a suggested workflow. You can, of course, do all these in one day. Up to you 🙂
Here are the key ingredients of the dough:
- Cake Flour - is a type of low protein/gluten flour that makes it perfect for making homemade bao buns. You can also use bao/pau flour/ Hongkong flour which is what dim sum/Chinese restaurants typically use.
- Baking Powder - act as an additional leavening agent on top of the yeast
- Sugar and Salt - gives the buns a balanced flavor.
- Vegetable Oil - I used canola oil. You can also use other neutral-tasting oil like avocado oil.
- Instant Yeast - easier to use as it activates faster. I prefer frothing this in milk rather than directly adding it to the dry ingredients.
- Milk - the secret to having fragrant steamed buns. Use full-fat milk.
Make the Dough
Making the dough for steamed buns is much like making yeast bread. Using a stand mixer with a dough hook will make the whole process a lot easier. It will take about 8 minutes of kneading to get a smooth consistency. If kneading by hand, it should take about 12 to 15 minutes.
Filling and Shaping Steamed buns
This is the trickiest part. It took me many tries to learn the pleating without messing up the filling. I still couldn't make it perfectly so I settled with this technique.
But here's some good news for you–pleating is not required. You can altogether skip it and just shape the buns into a smooth ball. It is so much easier 🙂
A few things to note:
- Divide the dough into two. Refrigerate the other half until ready to use/shape. This will prevent it from over-proofing.
- This recipe makes about 12 buns weighing around 60g each. Medium-sized buns are so much easier to pleat than mini-buns.
- Using a small rolling pin, lightly flatten it into a disc making sure that the center is thicker than the edges. Roll around the edges so it’s thinner (NOT FLAT!) than the center.
- While shaping the rolls, cover the rest of the dough with plastic wrap to prevent it from drying.
- Don’t overfill! It will be hard to close the dough and the filling might ooze out during steaming. I used about 2 heaping tablespoons of pork for each bun.
Once the buns are shaped, LET IT REST FOR 10-12 MINS ONLY. Overproofed buns can collapse and become flat during steaming. To slow down the proofing of the filled buns, place them in the fridge while working on the other dough. Again, cover it with plastic wrap.
When the buns are ready, place the steamer in a wok with room temp water. Not boiling or warm. Turn on the heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low once the water starts boiling. Using high heat can cause the buns to overinflate and collapse.
Steaming medium-sized pork bbq buns should take about 12 minutes. Longer if using large buns, around 15 minutes.
After steaming, turn off the heat but DO NOT OPEN THE LID. Letting it sit for 5 minutes will gradually release the heat and again, prevent the buns from collapsing and becoming flat.
If steaming in batches, place the other buns in the fridge covered in plastic wrap to slow down the proofing process.
Sauce for Siopao Asado
The steamed buns are best served warm and freshly cooked. In the Philippines, we love eating siopao with sauce. S,o I purposely made my pork bun filling recipe extra saucy so I don't have to make it separately.
After braising the meat, I scoop out the extra sauce and transfer it to a bowl. This is such a convenient way of making it.
Storage and Shelf-life
Store left-over buns in the fridge for up to 3 days and up to 1 month in the freezer. Store in an airtight container or large zip bag, push out excess air before sealing.
To reheat, steam for 5 to 10 minutes. Longer if the buns are frozen, about 15 minutes. No need to thaw. Although microwave can also be used, I'm just not a fan. The buns become too chewy, almost have a gummy texture. But if you're willing to use it, 20 seconds should be enough time to heat the buns.
Frequently asked questions
Flours with low protein or gluten content are best for steamed buns. You can see the amount of protein on the label of the packaging. It should only have 8 to 9 percent protein per 100g or lower. Cake flour, bao/pao flour, top flour, and Hongkong flour are just some of the flours with low gluten content.
For smoother and whiter steamed buns, bleached flour with low protein content is commonly used. Some cake flours are bleached and so are bao/pao flours.
A sudden change of temperature can cause steamed buns to deflate. Overproofed buns can also cause the buns to become flat. There are two things you can do to prevent this from happening:
Once the buns are shaped, LET IT REST FOR 15-20 MINS ONLY. If shaping is taking longer than expected, placed the filled buns in the fridge covered to slow down the proofing process.
After steaming, turn off the heat but DO NOT OPEN THE LID. Letting it sit for 5 minutes will gradually release the heat preventing the buns from collapsing and becoming flat.
All-purpose flour can be used to make steamed buns. It must, however, be combined with cornstarch to achieve a softer, fluffy bun texture. The substitute cake flour in this recipe is indicated on the recipe card.
Love Filipino-Chinese food? YOU MUST TRY THESE RECIPES!
- Pancit Bihon (Filipino Rice Noodles)
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- Pork Humba
- Homemade Beef Pares
- Escabeche (Filipino Sweet and Sour Fish)
- Pork and Shrimp Shumai (Siomai)
- Pancit Canton with the Most Delicious Sauce
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Siopao Asado (Steamed BBQ Pork Buns)
- 1 cup milk (lukewarm)
- 2 teaspoon instant yeast
- 3 tablespoon vegetable oil (I used canola)
- 600 grams bbq pork bun filling (get the recipe here)
MAKE THE PORK FILLING
- Make the filling using my easy pork bun filling recipe. All tips and instructions are there.
PROOF THE YEAST
- Place milk in a microwave-safe cup. Heat for 20 seconds. Check if the temperature is LUKEWARM by dipping your finger or a kitchen thermometer. If it's still cold, heat for another 5 seconds until it reaches 36c/98f.
- Add yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar. Stir to dissolved. Let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes until it froths.
MAKE THE DOUGH
- In the bowl of a stand mixer combine flour, salt, baking powder and sugar. Whisk to combine.
- Attach the dough hook and turn the mixer on to low speed. Slowly pour the yeast mixture while running the mixer. Knead for 1-2 MIN. Increase speed to medium, slowly add the oil. Knead for 8 to 10 minutes until it reaches smooth consistency (see note 3).
- Grease mixing bowl with oil. Form dough into a smooth ball and put back in the bowl. Cover with a cling wrap. Let it rise for 1 hour.
- Punch the dough down. Knead for 1 to 2 mins to remove air bubbles. You can do this with a stand mixer or by hand.
- Form dough into a large smooth ball and divide into 2 pieces. Refrigerate the other half until ready to use. Divide dough into equal pieces so a total of 12 (6 pieces per batch). Form into a smooth ball. For an evenly sized dough, use a kitchen scale. Mine was about 60g each.
SHAPE AND FILL THE ROLLS (watch the video)
- Cut parchment paper into squares. You'll need 12 pieces. Fill the wok with water but don't turn on the heat yet.
- Flatten with your palm. Using a rolling pin, roll around the edges to form a circle about 4-5 inches making sure that the center is thicker. Repeat with the remaining dough. Cover with a cling wrap to prevent drying.
- Take one of the flattened dough. Roll the edges if needed. Place heaping 2 tablespoon of the filling. Gather in the center. Then pleat remaining edges around the center one by one to seal the bun. Pinch the top then twist.
- Place bun in the parchment paper and place in your steaming rack. Repeat with the remaining dough. NOTE: Pleating is not necessary. You can form the bun into a smooth ball if preferred.
- Cover with a cling wrap and let it rest for 10 to 12 mins until slightly puffy. DO NOT OVERPROOF.
- Cover steamer with the lid. Turn on the heat and bring water to a boil. Lower the heat to medium when it starts boiling. Steam for 12 minutes.
- Turn off the heat. DO NOT OPEN THE LID. Let it sit for 5 minutes. Slightly tilt the lid to allow air circulation for about 2 to 3 minutes.
- Remove the buns and transfer the buns into a rack and allow to them cool. Serve with the sauce and enjoy!
Recipe Notes and Tips:
- Cake Flour - substitute with 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour + ½ cup cornstarch.
- For a whiter bun, you can use bleached cake flour, bao/pao flour, Hongkong flour, and top flour. Use the same amount as the cake flour.
- Dough consistency - if the dough is too sticky, add more flour about 1 tablespoon at a time. If the dough is too stiff, add more milk about 1 tablespoon at a time.
- To prevent overproofing: Work in batches to prevent over-proofing the buns. I did mine in two batches and worked on 6 pieces at a time. Overproofed dough can collapse during steaming.
- Storage and shelf-life - store left-over buns in the fridge for up to 3 days and up to 1 month in the freezer. Store in an airtight container or large zip bag, push out excess air before sealing.
- Nutrition: Per 1 bun. Pork filling is included in the calculation.