Char Siu Bau…

Sticking with my chinese themed recipes, my girlfriend and I wanted to make char siu bau.  Locally it’s called manapua, a hawaiian translation.  Bau means bun and char siu refers to the chinese barbecue pork filling.  This style of chinese is more specifically cantonese, from southern china.  You can use store-bought char siu or make it from scratch.  We had some in the fridge, so I just used that, but I have a homemade recipe I’ll post.

Typically, chinese restaurants will make these out of all purpose flour or maybe even rice flour because they are light, which leads to a very puffy and light bun.  I like the bread flavor and consistency, so I used baker’s flour (or bread flour) for the higher gluten percentage.

Because of this change, the dough was a lot tougher, but that’s ok.  They’re still happy little manapuas.

See, they’re happy.

We filled them with the traditional char siu.  Then we got creative with homemade bacon (which was fantastic for breakfast!)  My girlfriend and I each made a surprise one for each other.  She made a cinnamon roll styled one with macadamia nuts and cinnamon sugar.  I made a pizza version with mozzarella, sauce, and a few pepperoni slices.  Both were outstanding.  My sister made a jalapeno and cream cheese version (like a jalapeno popper) and a chocolate filled one.  Don’t knock it till you try it, because the chocolate version was quite good.

I’m eating a small one for taste testing.  There’s a bacon one in the background.

Overall, it’s an easy recipe and it’s fun to be creative with filling types.

Char Siu Bau

1 1/2 cup warm water  (105-115 F)
3 T active dry yeast
4 cups bread flour
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (and more for dusting)
1/4 cup sugar
1 T salt
4 T vegetable oil

Mix yeast in with water and let sit until yeast become active, about 10-15 minutes.  In a large mixing bowl, combine flours, salt and sugar with the bread hook attachment.  On low speed, slowly add the water and 3 T oil and mix until well incorporated.  Increase speed to medium and knead for about 8-10 minutes until dough forms a smooth elastic ball.   Coat mixing bowl with 1 T oil and turn ball to coat.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for about an hour or until almost doubled.

Line 2 baking sheets with wax paper.  Punch dough down and divide into 4 portions.  Divide each fourth into 4 more (or smaller if you want more buns).  Roll each ball out into a circle and place filling inside and pinch to seal.  You can also shape it like a half moon; it’s easier this way.  Cover with a clean towel and let sit another 40 minutes.

Heat up water in a steamer, pasta pot, or wok.  After it reaches a boil, take steam trays off and spray them with oil spray and arrange buns on them spaced about 1 1/2 to 2 inches apart.  They will grow in the steamer.  Cover and steam for 15 minutes.  Work in batches if you have to, but don’t overcrowd the buns.  Serve warm.


2 1/2 cups water
1 cup hoisin sauce
1/2 cup dry sherry
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 T fresh ginger, minced
1 T brown sugar
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups chopped green onion
4 lb bone in pork shoulder
1 cup water
1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Whisk 1 1/2 cups water with hoisin sauce, sherry, honey, soy sauce, ginger, sugar and  garlic in a large bowl.  Mix in 1 3/4 cup green onion.  Transfer to a 2 gallon ziploc bag with the pork and seal.  Mash marinade around into pork and chill overnight.

Preheat oven to 325 F.  Transfer meat and sauce to a oven-proof pot (like a dutch oven).  Cover and roast for about 4 hours until meat falls apart.  Turn meat occasionally throughout roasting time.  Transfer pork to a surface and cool a little bit.

Spoon off fat from drippings.  Shred meat to your preference and stir in pan drippings with up to 1 cup water.  You may use less if the drippings are runny enough.  Season with salt and pepper.

You can do this a day ahead and chill overnight for use in buns.


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