Food Mimic – BBQ Pork Buns (Char Siu Bao)

Not something we had on our trip, but I thought I’d stick with something on this side of the globe and attempt one of MrFodder’s favourite foods. The recipe I decided to go with is this one from The Woks of Life, except (and this is the part I’m most excited about), I’d go with my mum’s recipe for Char Siu. Finally I have something to contribute to the Internet!

Char Siu Recipe


1 kg pork neck
1 cup sugar

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped, or pressed in a garlic press
2 shallots
6 tablespoons of soy sauce
2 teaspoons of salt
1/2 teaspoon Chinese five spice
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon Oyster sauce
2 tablespoons Mei Kuei Lu Chiew cooking wine
2 tablespoons ground bean sauce
1 tablespoon Hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon sesame sauce
1/2 tablespoon ginger finely grated, or pressed in a garlic press

4 tablespoons of maltose or honey
1/4 cup boiling water
4 tablespoons of sugar

Wash and drain the pork, cut into steak-like pieces. Mix with the sugar and leave in the fridge for an hour to dry out.

Mix the marinate ingredients together in another bowl. Add the pork and mix. Leave to marinate, overnight is best, but a couple of hours is fine. It will look brown, that’s fine – it’ll turn red after roasting.

Before you start cooking, preheat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius. Mix the glaze and put in a bath of boiled water to keep it smooth and spreadable.

Stick the marinated meat on your oven racks, and put a baking pan half-filled with water underneath to catch the drippings. Glaze and roast for 30 minutes, before flipping over. Glaze that side and bake for 20 minutes. You can finish here, or flip over, glaze and bake for another 20 minutes and repeat until you’re happy with what you have, or you run out of glaze.

On to the pork bun part. It took longer than I expected, because our steamer could only fit three buns at a time, and I decided to make a double batch (as TS would say, economy of scale). Also, the recipe doesn’t specify except in the comments, but if you want pretty white, fluffy buns, you’ll have to use bleached flour. I did not read that part until later, so my buns were a pale brown, with brown spots on top. :(

I was a bit dubious about the sauce, as it just smelled like flour. But I followed the recipe anyway, because I didn’t know enough to adjust anything.

Here are my pre-steamed buns:

Here are the post-steamed buns:

It actually tasted good – I was surprised that I’d be able to do it my first try. I prefer a sweeter bun, so maybe next time I’ll add more sugar, but MrFodder was happy with it, and that’s the important part! I justify his decision to stay with me just a little bit more!

I made a double batch of the char siu as well, because I wanted to make fried rice – so that’s an idea if you end up with leftover BBQ pork!

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