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How to make steamed pork buns (siopao) at home

Rowena Dumlao-Giardina resides in Italy, cooking and photographing her family's interesting meals on Apron and Sneakers. After moving to Italy in 1999 from the Philippines, she has traveled extensively around the country and the rest of ...

Step out of your cooking comfort zone, and learn how to make siopao from scratch

I grew up with this kind of food, but since it was available everywhere, I never approached the subject of actually making it from scratch. Having moved to Italy, I had no choice but to slowly bridge the gap between dreaming and making it happen.

I started making my own Asian delicacies at home, and these steamed pork buns were among the snacks I had to learn. Reading many recipes, plus practice and failure, gave way to these beautiful, pillowy pork buns. Failures make you understand better how recipes work, and they make you avoid what you did wrong in previous trials.

This batch of buns is my victory after a few attempts to perfect them. I changed the kind of yeast from dry to fresh, the kind of flour and the method of making the dough rise (I prefer making it rise in the oven at a very low temperature). What didn't work for me can actually work for others, but from my experience, this recipe is a keeper.

So don't wait — make your own siopao at home. One bite of these soft, pillowy steamed buns filled with delicious pork, and you will be completely hooked.

Step out of your cooking comfort zone, and learn how to make siopao from scratch
Image: Rowena Dumlao-Giardina/SheKnows

In a medium-large saucepan with canola oil over medium heat, sauté the garlic and onion until they are fragrant, then add the pork. Cook until the pork changes color, about three minutes. Add the remaining ingredients, and simmer for one hour on low heat. If the sauce is drying up, add some water. Add the cornstarch mixture, and then turn off the heat when the sauce is slightly thick. Adjust the taste.

Step out of your cooking comfort zone, and learn how to make siopao from scratch
Image: Rowena Dumlao-Giardina/SheKnows

Using two forks, shred the meat, then let it cool down.

Step out of your cooking comfort zone, and learn how to make siopao from scratch
Image: Rowena Dumlao-Giardina/SheKnows

In a small bowl or glass, mix the lukewarm water with the yeast, and then add the sugar. Leave it for at least five minutes. To a mixer or a medium-large bowl, add the 3-1/2 cups of flour, salt, oil and the yeast mixture. Mix until you have a ball of elastic dough.

Step out of your cooking comfort zone, and learn how to make siopao from scratch
Image: Rowena Dumlao-Giardina/SheKnows

Transfer the dough to a floured wooden board, and knead it for a while. If the dough is too sticky, gradually add the remaining 1/2 cup of flour until you can work it without it sticking to your hands. Shape the dough into a ball, then put it in a bowl (you can use the same bowl you mixed it in). Cover with plastic wrap.

Step out of your cooking comfort zone, and learn how to make siopao from scratch
Image: Rowena Dumlao-Giardina/SheKnows

Let it rise for a couple of hours in a warm place or in an oven heated to 95 to 100 degrees F for 30 minutes. The dough should rise.

Step out of your cooking comfort zone, and learn how to make siopao from scratch
Image: Rowena Dumlao-Giardina/SheKnows

Transfer the dough to the floured wooden board, and knead it again. Divide the dough into equal in halves.

Step out of your cooking comfort zone, and learn how to make siopao from scratch
Image: Rowena Dumlao-Giardina/SheKnows

Then divide it into four, then into eight and then into 16 equal parts.

Step out of your cooking comfort zone, and learn how to make siopao from scratch
Image: Rowena Dumlao-Giardina/SheKnows

Work on each piece of dough by shaping it into a ball and then flattening it with a small rolling pin.

Step out of your cooking comfort zone, and learn how to make siopao from scratch
Image: Rowena Dumlao-Giardina/SheKnows

At the center, put about a tablespoon of filling, and then gather the edges to close it.

Step out of your cooking comfort zone, and learn how to make siopao from scratch
Image: Rowena Dumlao-Giardina/SheKnows

Twist the top tightly to secure it well. Place the bun on a small, square piece of parchment paper, and steam it in a hot steamer for 15 minutes. Leave space between each bun, because they should become larger while cooking. Work in batches. They are best eaten when warm.

Step out of your cooking comfort zone, and learn how to make siopao from scratchImage: Rowena Dumlao-Giardina/SheKnows

Steamed pork buns (siopao) recipe

Yields 16

Prep time: 30 minutes | Inactive time: 2 hours | Cook time: 1 hour 15 minutes | Total time: 3 hours 45 minutes

Ingredients:

For the filling

  • Canola oil (or any mild-tasting oil)
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 14 ounces pork shoulder, cut into big slices
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • Ground pepper
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with a few tablespoons water

For the dough

  • 1 (0.9-ounce or 25-gram) block fresh yeast
  • 1 cup lukewarm water (not too hot or too cold)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour or flour 00
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil or any mild-tasting oil

Directions:

For the filling

  1. In a medium-large saucepan with canola oil over medium heat, sauté the garlic and onion until they are fragrant, and then add the pork. Cook until the pork changes color, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients, and simmer for 1 hour on low heat. If the sauce is drying up, add some water.
  3. Add the cornstarch mixture, and then turn off the heat when the sauce is slightly thick. Adjust the taste.
  4. Using 2 forks, shred the meat, and then let it cool down.

For the dough

  1. In a small bowl or glass, mix the lukewarm water with the yeast, and then add the sugar. Leave it for at least 5 minutes.
  2. To a mixer or a medium-large bowl, add the 3-1/2 cups of flour, salt, oil and the yeast mixture. Mix until you have a ball of elastic dough.
  3. Transfer the dough to a floured wooden board, and knead it for a while. If the dough is too sticky, gradually add the remaining 1/2 cup of flour until you can work it without it sticking to your hands.
  4. Shape the dough into a ball, then put it in a bowl (you can use the same bowl you mixed it in). Cover with plastic wrap.
  5. Let it rise for a couple of hours in a warm place or in an oven heated to 95 – 100 degrees F for 30 minutes. The dough should rise.
  6. Transfer the dough to the floured wooden board, and knead it again. Divide the dough equally into 2, then 4, then 8 and then 16 pieces.
  7. Work on each piece of dough by shaping it into a ball and then flattening it with a small rolling pin.
  8. At the center, put about a tablespoon of filling, and then gather the edges to close it. Twist the top tightly to secure it well.
  9. Place the bun on a small, square piece of parchment paper, and steam it in a hot steamer for 15 minutes. Leave space between each bun because they should become bigger while cooking. Work in batches. They are best eaten when warm.
  10. The buns can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for at least 3 days. To reheat, warm them up in a steamer.

More Asian recipes

Asian turkey tacos
Pad thai chicken nachos
Oven-baked orange-soy pork ribs

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