Steamed bao buns

Packed with flavour, Sally's pork steamed buns recipe is a little fiddly but well worth the effort for these delicious Chinese bao buns. The filling is made with sticky, honey-roasted pork belly enclosed in a fluffy dough that remains soft when steamed.

First published in 2016
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Honey roast pork


  • 7g of fast-action dried yeast
  • 180ml of water, lukewarm
  • 250g of plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 125g of cornflour
  • 75g of caster sugar
  • 50ml of vegetable oil
  • 10g of baking powder



Cut the pork into 2 pieces and place in a bowl or ziplock bag. Mix together the remaining ingredients to make a marinade and rub about ⅔ of the mixture over the pork
Cover the bowl with cling film or seal the bag and leave to marinate overnight in the fridge. Cover and reserve the rest of the marinade in the fridge until needed
The next day preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6. Line a baking tray with foil
Place the pork on the lined tray then cook for 30 minutes. Baste with the reserved marinade and cook for a further 30 minutes before basting again in the cooking juices – don’t worry if the pork starts to char at the edges, it all adds to the flavour
Once the pork is cooked through and the meat is tender remove from the oven and leave to rest
To make the bun dough, mix the yeast with the warm water in a small bowl and stir until fully dissolved
Place the rest of the ingredients in a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook and mix together. Pour in the yeast and water and mix for several minutes until you are left with a smooth dough
Cover the dough with cling film and leave to prove until it has doubled in size. Depending on the temperature of your house this could take up to 2 hours, it took my dough until the next morning to prove so just be sure to give it enough time to do so
While the dough is proving make the filling. Chop the cooked pork belly into small pieces (about 1cm square) and place in a bowl
Place the shallot, tomato purée, soy sauce, oyster sauce and honey in a small pan over a medium heat and bring to the boil
Stir in the blended cornflour paste and cook out for a few minutes until the mixture is thick and glossy. Mix in the chopped pork belly pieces and leave the filling to cool
Once the dough has doubled in size, remove from the bowl and transfer to a lightly floured work surface
Knead by hand for a few minutes then roll into a long cylinder and divide into 10 pieces. Cover the dough with a damp cloth to stop it drying out
Take a piece of the dough and roll into a disc about 10cm in diameter, it should be thinner at the edges and thicker in the middle
Take a tablespoon of the pork belly filling and place in the centre of the dough
Using your fingers, fold and pleat the dough edges together, pinching the top with your thumb and forefinger as you go to seal the filling in the middle (if your hands are big enough, you can do this holding the dough in 1 hand to help create a nice round shape, mine aren't quite big enough so I pleated mine on the work surface!)
When you have pleated all the way around the edges you should be left with a little hole in the middle for the steam to come out of, with tightly pinched edges around. Place each bun on to a small square of greaseproof paper
To cook the buns bring a pan of water to the boil and place the buns into a bamboo steamer. Steam in batches over rapidly boiling water for around 15 minutes, until the buns are no longer sticky to the touch. Be careful not to scald yourself on the steam when checking the buns!
Serve with soy sauce and fresh herbs for dipping
First published in 2016
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After a five-year stint in the kitchen at two Michelin-starred restaurant The Ledbury, Sally is now head chef at The Harwood Arms in London.

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