Siu Bao/ Seremban Siew Pau (Crispy and Flaky BBQ Pork Buns)

Siu Bao/ Seremban Siew Pau (Crispy and Flaky BBQ Pork Buns)

Siu Bao is a baked barbequed pork bun that is often sold in Chinese bakeries. Although made with a simple oil dough without butter, the pastry remains flaky and crispy. The filling is made of juicy pork cooked in a sticky sauce which makes each bite is a delight.

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Preparation 30 mins
Cooking 50 mins

Bread, Snack

烧包, 芙蓉燒包

Chinese, Malaysian, Singaporean

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Flaky Siu Bao (烧包) is a Chinese pastry loved by many for its pastry and filling. The pastry is made light and crispy with many layers of thin flaky dough. The filling of the bao consists of Char Siu that is cooked in a savoury sauce. Its texture is almost honey like making it easy for the meat to be coated in the thick sauce.

Every bite is met with an assortment of flavours and texture. It is salty and sweet at the same time. The crispy pastry and juicy meat is an excellent combo.

The origins

Also known as 芙蓉燒包 or Seremban Baked Buns, they are named after the state that made them popular. Seremban is a state in Malaysia.

Similar to its sister-pastry, the Hong Kong Pastry Pork Buns, the Malaysian version is said to have been created by the Cantonese community when they moved to Malaya in the mid-20th century.

It was only in the 1970s that the buns were brought to the capital city of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur. Since then, it can be found in most Chinese bakeries in Malaysia and neighbouring countries.

Why is this recipe the best?

It's an easy recipe with simple ingredients. The best Siu Bao has to meet 3 requirements. Rest assured, this recipe guarantees the best result.

  1. Flaky and light pastry: It cannot be too oily or it will be soggy. This recipe recommends the perfect amount of oil needed to prevent the dough from being too soft and falling apart being unable to hold its shape.
  2. Flavourful and golden pastry: Some pastries that are sold look lighter in colour and the pastry tastes bland. In this recipe, the pastry is tasty on its own. When baked, it has a beautiful shade of golden brown.
  3. Delicious and juicy meat: As the meat is wrapped in the pastry, it must have a bold flavour. Additionally, it should not be watery or the bao will end up being soggy.

See the flaky crust!
See the flaky crust!

No shortening and no rubbing in

The usual recipe uses shortening for its higher melting point and being able to hold its shape better. However, using plain vegetable oil (peanut, soy, rapeseed or sunflower) does the trick too. The dough is easy to handle and most importantly, it will still be crispy.

Important tips to rest dough

Allowing the dough to rest during the shaping process will allow the gluten to relax. This will let the oil spread more evenly and increase the dough moisture while improving the flaky oily texture.

That is why it is crucial to allow the dough to rest at every step during the flattening and rolling process (Step 9). Avoid completing the shaping process for one Siu Bao before moving onto the next.

Step-by-step guide on shaping the dough

For better explanation, refer to the photos below.

  1. Flatten water dough. Wrap oil dough tightly. Set aside to rest. Continue with the next water and oil dough.

    Wrapping oil dough with water dough.
    Wrapping oil dough with water dough.

  2. Take the first wrapped dough and flatten it into a rectangular shape. Lift the top of the dough and create a swiss roll. Set aside to rest. Repeat step with the other dough pieces.

    First swiss roll
    First swiss roll

  3. Take the first roll made in Step 2. Flatten it once again to create a rectangular shape. The tips of the roll should be the top and bottom of the rectangle. Once again, create a swiss roll. Lightly compress the sides of the swiss roll to create a square. Repeat step with the other dough pieces.

    Second swiss roll
    Second swiss roll
    Compressed sides
    Compressed sides

  4. Rest the dough pieces for at least 20 minutes before wrapping the filling. Dough can be quite resistant after all the rolling and flattening. Time will help to relax the dough a little.

Secret ingredient for the golden shade

Custard powder! That is what you will need to add to the water dough. If you do not have it, substitute it with corn flour. The only difference is the colour of the siu bao will be lighter if corn flour is used.

Can I use uncooked meat?

These flaky pastry Siu Bao is always made using cooked Char Siu. Best if you have leftovers. To save time, feel free to buy them from restaurants or hawker stalls. If you want to make your own Char Siu, here is a tried and tested recipe that is highly rated.

Finger licking good!
Finger licking good!

Baking time

Every oven is slightly different. If you find the Siu Bao browning too quickly, place a piece of parchment paper or aluminium foil over them as you continue baking.

First round of baking
First round of baking

Making Siu Bao ahead of time

You can prepare the filling for up to 5 days in advance before wrapping them up for baking.

How to store Siu Bao?

It is best to keep these crispy Siu Bao refrigerated in an air-tight container for up to 4 days. Heat it up in a microwave oven or bake at 150 degrees Celsius to revive its crispiness.

If left unrefrigerated, it can last for 1 to 2 days.

Frozen Siu Bao

Unbaked Seremban Siu Bao can be kept frozen for up to 2 months. Freeze them individually. Ensure that they are wrapped tightly with cling wrap or aluminium foil. This will prevent contact with air and reduce freezer burn.

Thaw frozen Siu Bao overnight in the refrigerator. Bake according to directions described in Step 10 and 11.


Ingredients

Servings:  
160 g
char siu
1⁄2 tsp
five spice powder
1⁄2 tsp
white pepper
1⁄2 tsp
light soy sauce
20 g
sesame seeds
30 g
green peas (frozen)
2 tbsp
oil
30 g
red onion(s)
20 g
garlic clove(s)
1 tbsp
oyster sauce
2 tsp
soy sauce
3 tsp
sugar
1⁄2 cup
water
2 tsp
corn starch
1 tsp
sesame oil
190 g
all-purpose flour
15 g
custard powder
20 g
sugar (powdered)
1.4 g
salt
35 g
oil
50 g
water
36 g
oil
1
egg(s)
1 tbsp
water

Steps to Prepare

Siu Bao/ Seremban Siew Pau (Crispy and Flaky BBQ Pork Buns) Step 1

Step 1 of 11

    • 160 g char siu
    • 1⁄2 tsp five spice powder
    • 1⁄2 tsp white pepper
    • 1⁄2 tsp light soy sauce
    • 15 g sesame seeds
    • 30 g green peas (frozen)

Chop Char Siu into 0.5cm cubes. Marinate them with 5 spice powder, white pepper and soy sauce. Heat up an empty pan over low to medium heat. Toast sesame seeds (only 15g) until fragrant. Remove from pan and set aside. Thaw frozen green peas in a bowl of water.

Siu Bao/ Seremban Siew Pau (Crispy and Flaky BBQ Pork Buns) Step 2

Step 2 of 11

    • 2 tbsp oil
    • 30 g red onion(s)
    • 20 g garlic clove(s)

In a pan placed over medium heat, add oil and sauté chopped onions and garlic until fragrant.

Siu Bao/ Seremban Siew Pau (Crispy and Flaky BBQ Pork Buns) Step 3

Step 3 of 11

Once fragrant, add in the marinated Char Siu chunks followed by the green peas. Mix well. Then, add oyster sauce, soy sauce and sugar.

Siu Bao/ Seremban Siew Pau (Crispy and Flaky BBQ Pork Buns) Step 4

Step 4 of 11

    • 1⁄2 cup water
    • 2 tsp corn starch
    • 1 tsp sesame oil

Mix corn starch with water. While the gravy is simmering, add corn starch slurry while continuously stirring. Turn the stove off once the gravy thickens. Stir in sesame oil and sesame seeds. Set aside.

Siu Bao/ Seremban Siew Pau (Crispy and Flaky BBQ Pork Buns) Step 5

Step 5 of 11

    • 100 g all-purpose flour
    • 15 g custard powder
    • 20 g sugar (powdered)
    • 1 g salt
    • 35 g oil

To prepare water dough, mix all-purpose flour, custard powder, icing sugar and salt in a bowl. Then, add oil to form crumbles.

Siu Bao/ Seremban Siew Pau (Crispy and Flaky BBQ Pork Buns) Step 6

Step 6 of 11

    • 50 g water

Add water into a bowl and mix until a dough is formed. When done, the dough should not stick to the sides of the bowl. Set aside and cover with a damp kitchen towel to prevent drying.

Siu Bao/ Seremban Siew Pau (Crispy and Flaky BBQ Pork Buns) Step 7

Step 7 of 11

    • 90 g all-purpose flour
    • 36 g oil

To prepare oil dough, mix all-purpose flour and oil to form a dough.

Siu Bao/ Seremban Siew Pau (Crispy and Flaky BBQ Pork Buns) Step 8

Step 8 of 11

Divide water dough (step 6) into 6 pieces of 35g each and oil dough (step 7) into 6 pieces of 20g each. Shape them into balls and cover with a damp cloth to prevent drying.

Siu Bao/ Seremban Siew Pau (Crispy and Flaky BBQ Pork Buns) Step 9

Step 9 of 11

Flatten one water dough to wrap a ball of oil dough. Repeat with the other dough pieces. Then, use a rolling pin to flatten the wrapped dough into a rectangle. Lift the top of the rectangle to roll it into a swiss roll. Repeat with the other dough pieces. Invert and flatten the dough again into a rectangle. Do a final swiss roll. Lightly compress the sides to shape it into a ball. Repeat with the rest of the dough pieces. Rest the dough for at least 20 minutes before wrapping the filling.

Siu Bao/ Seremban Siew Pau (Crispy and Flaky BBQ Pork Buns) Step 10

Step 10 of 11

Preheat oven to 190 degrees Celsius. Flatten a dough, leave at least 1.5-2 cm of sides for folding. Scoop 2 teaspoonful of meat filling into the centre of the dough. Bring the sides of the dough together to wrap the filling. Place it on a lined tray with baking paper. Repeat with the other dough pieces.

Siu Bao/ Seremban Siew Pau (Crispy and Flaky BBQ Pork Buns) Step 11

Step 11 of 11

    • 1 egg(s)
    • 1 tbsp water
    • 5 g sesame seeds
    • 0.4 g salt

Mix egg with milk and a pinch of salt evenly to make the egg wash. Brush egg wash onto the surface of each unbaked Siu Bao. Bake for 18 minutes. Then, brush egg wash again. Sprinkle some untoasted sesame seeds and bake for another 18 minutes. Enjoy them hot or at room temperature.

Published: August 29, 2021


5 Discussions

Teng
2 months ago

Teng

Thanks so much for the step by step instructions. I had fun making it! Not to mention the aroma and yumminess 😁

Edmund Pearson
3 months ago

Edmund Pearson

what would happen if I skipped the custard powder?

Mira - Community Happiness Manager
3 months ago

Mira - Community Happiness Manager

Hi Edmund! The texture will not be as nice. Replace it with corn starch as recommended.

Edmund Pearson
3 months ago

Edmund Pearson

Thanks

Alice
3 months ago

Alice

Karin, are you from Seremban? Thanks for the recipe. Followed your recipe & the ‘siu pau’ turned out delicious!

Mira - Community Happiness Manager
3 months ago

Mira - Community Happiness Manager

Hi Alice! That's wonderful to hear. If you have a photo, do upload it to your profile ;)

Edmund Pearson
3 months ago

Edmund Pearson

The link doesn't go anywhere useful. Too bad there is no video> I will get some pork and make the cha sieu and then try the buns.

Grace
3 months ago

Grace

Sorry, we had some technical issues with the links. They are updated now. A video on steps 9 and 10 will be uploaded soon.

Nick
3 months ago

Nick

Great ! I learned from Sifu. Thanks for sharing

Grace
3 months ago

Grace

I'm going to make it later. Looks so good eh!

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