Steamed Chicken Char Sui Bao

What an irony.
This recipe has been siting in my draft for such a long time, waiting for its ‘release’, until the Daring Cooks’ December challenge was announced…its Steamed Bao, or Pao as I knew it, so I thought it’s time to make this blog alive again with this post:-)
This month’s Daring Cook challenge is Char Sui Bao, courtesy of Sara from Belly Rumbles. I am well amazed that she challenged us to try this traditional Oriental delight that I could nowadays get on daily basis at workplace. I grew up with paos that my mom makes regularly at home, and it remains one of my favourite dim sum menu. Given the halal diet that we strictly adhere to, and the obvious lack of halal meat in pao filling, I am so used to homemade pao and chicken char sui which conforms to our diet restrictions. Lately I have been following the dough recipe from SmokyWok, one of the well-known Malaysian bloggers. This time round, I thought I shall use the recipe provided by Sara, and I am happy to report that both recipes gave wonderful outcomes:-). Having said that, I am a creature of habit, so I always resort to Hong Kong flour instead of plain flour for the dough.

It has been raining cats and dogs lately here, and these wonderful fresh-from-the steam buns are perfect for the lazy afternoon with sips of herbal tea. Over the last few years of making my own homemade pao, I learnt that more important than the dough is the filling, if you get the filling right, the buns would taste divine. There is an array of fillings that can be tried apart from char sui, use any meat you like. Sweet filling like red bean paste. Savoury curry flavoured chicken. Stir-fry tofu with black pepper. The choice is ultimately yours.

One thing though.

Make enough buns, with at least 2 buns for each of you as one is definitely not enough.

Steamed Chicken Char Sui Bao

Sara’s dough recipe:

2½ teaspoons (8 gm/1 satchel) of dried yeast
¼ cup (55 gm/2 oz) sugar
½ cup warm water
2 cups (280 gm/10 oz) plain flour
1 egg (medium size – slightly beaten)
3 tablespoons oil
½ teaspoon (3 gm) salt
Egg wash: 1 egg beaten with a dash of water
(1 cup=240 ml, 1 tablespoon=15 ml, 1 teaspoon=5 ml)

For the filling:
100g minced or ground chicken, marinated in 1 tsp corn flour for about 10 minutes (to tenderise)
1 stalk green onion, sliced
1 cluster bok choy, sliced thinly
2 tbsps grated fresh ginger, together with the juice
1 tbsp oyster sauce
2 tsps light soy sauce
1 tbsp black pepper
1/2 tsp sugar

2 tsps cornstarch/ cornflour mixed with 2 tbsps chicken stock
1.  Combine the yeast, 2 tbsps of warm water, 1 tsp sugar and 1 tsp bao flour in a bowl.  Cover with a damp kitchen towel and set aside for 15 minutes.  The mixture should turn frothy, if it does not it means that the yeast you used is ‘dead’ or no longer active, you will have to repeat this step if so.  Just FYI, the sugar feeds the yeast so don’t skip it.
2.  Sift the bao flour and self-rising flour into a large bowl.  Add sugar, the melted butter, the rest of the warm water and the yeast mixture from above.
3.  With a wooden spoon, start mixing everything together until a soft dough begins to form.
4.  Set the wooden spoon aside.  Get ready a bowl of additional pao/ bao flour for dusting as it is now time for kneading.  I sometimes like to knead my dough in the large metal bowl I regularly use but if you like prepare a floured counter and turn the dough out to knead.
5.  Knead the dough with your hands for about 3-5 minutes or until smooth and elastic.  As you can see, I kneaded this by hand and it is not hard at all as the dough is not too wet so you don’t have to pull out the mixer.
6.  Lightly oil a bowl.  Place the kneaded dough into the bowl and cover dough with a damp kitchen towel and allow to rise for about 1 hour in a warm place.   Note that humidity makes a difference so if you’re in a cold and dry climate, it may take longer to double in size.
7.  While the dough is proofing, it’s time to make the filling.  Add about 3 tbsps cooking oil to a hot pan or wok and add in the bok choy and green onions.  Add in grated ginger and juice.  Turn heat to medium.  Once aromatic, add in the chicken.  Turn heat up.  Add seasoning (except for corn starch) and stir around until chicken is cooked, taste a little bit of the chicken and add more seasoning if required.  If the mixture looks dry, add 1 or 2 tsps of water at a time.  Dish out into a shallow bowl and allow to cool.

8.  Check the dough after an hour, the dough should have roughly doubled and it should feel airy and quite porous.

9.  Prepare a lightly floured surface and turn the dough out onto it.  Lightly punch the air bubbles out and knead again, dusting with additional bao flour as needed.
10.  Roll the dough out into a cylindrical shape and divides into balls. Flatten the ‘ball’ with your hands, turning it around in your palm as you flatten to form a flattened round.  There is no need to use a rolling pin for this.  My guests and I like to have bao with thicker skins hence you can see that the ratio of filling to skin is almost 1:1 for us but do adjust according to your preferences.
13.  Spoon about 1 heaped tsp of filling onto the center of the flattened dough.
14.  Start wrapping up the filling in the dough with your right hand while cupping the bao lightly with your left hand. 
15.  Place the bun on the prepared baking paper squares.
16. Repeat steps above until all the dough is finished up.  Anytime the dough seems too sticky, dust with a little bit of bao flour and knead lightly again if needed.
All ready to be steamed for about 12-15 minutes. Serve hot!


  1. says

    Thanks Jen, I love your blog, and the recipes are just wonderful..keep up the good work:-)

    Thanks Akeela-Hope you try out this recipe and let me know how it turns out:-)

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