BEST Char Siu Pao

Super fluffy pao dough with a savoury char siu (Chinese BBQ Chicken) filling. Easy to make and great for breakfast, lunch or as a snack. Freezer-proof.

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Finally!!!! After countless of tries, I finally have the PERFECT recipe for pau dough for you guys. I’ve made pau before, but there was always something that was wrong. Wet, dry, dense. However, today I made the best batch of char siu paus. Seriously, they’re so.good. Soft and oh-so fluffy. I ate just about all of them straight after steaming. And as I’m typing this, I’m munching on another one. Not kidding. To be honest I was planning on taking this batch to my dad’s (and the rest of the family) this weekend, but I think I’ll have to make another batch. Sorry, dad. I have no self-control when it comes to char siu pau haha.. 

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To make char siu pau, you’ll need a batch of char siu meat. I used my awesome CHICKEN char siu, but feel free to use “real” (pork) char siu if you like. All you have to do is bake the chicken/meat as usual and chop it up into small pieces. Then, mix the meat with some finely chopped onions and a bit of the char siu marinade for extra flavor. That’s it. Easy but delicious. Really, this filling is só good! I could eat this mixture as is, straight from the bowl. (And I secretly did. A few tablespoons teaspoons full.)

As for the pau dough, it’s not really different than other doughs. The only difference is the flour. I like to use pau flour for this recipe, which is bleached wheat flour. It’s available at most Chinese grocery stores. There’s often a pak soi printed on the bag, which -I’ve been told- is symbolic for the whiteness of the flour. By using pau flour the dough will turn out whiter than regular flour. If you don’t have pau flour or don’t like to use chemically processed flour, you can just use plain flour or cake flour. It will have no effect on the flavor. Trust me. The only difference will be the appearance of the paus.

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Once you’ve got the filling and dough, heat a wok with water on high heat. I also like to add a little bit of vinegar to keep the calcium from depositing in your wok. If you don’t mind the calcium, you can omit the vinegar. Then, all there’s left is to shape the paus. I like to shape paus the traditional way. Let the paus rest for a while before placing them in a bamboo steamer. Put the bamboo steamer on top of the wok and steam for 10-15 minutes (depending on the size of paus). Serve immediately with other dim sum dishes like lo mai kai, ji dan gao and dumplings or eat as an amazing snack. Don’t forget to add a cup of tea 😉

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What’s your favorite pau filling? Sweet or savory?

BEST Char Siu Pau (Chicken Style)
Yields 18
Super fluffy pao dough with a savoury char siu (Chinese BBQ Chicken) filling. Easy to make and great for breakfast, lunch or as a snack. Freezer-proof.
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Prep Time
1 hr 20 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
2 hr 30 min
Prep Time
1 hr 20 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
2 hr 30 min
Ingredients for the filling
  1. 2 onions, finely chopped
  2. 600 g prepared char siu chicken meat, cubed
  3. 2 Tbsp char siu marinade
  4. 1 Tbsp oil, for cooking
Ingredients for the starter dough
  1. 90 g pau flour*
  2. 1 tsp instant yeast
  3. 2 tsp sugar, taken from sugar mentioned below
  4. 50-65 mL lukewarm water**
Ingredients for the remaining dough
  1. starter dough (see above)
  2. 75 g sugar (-2 tsp for starter dough)
  3. 225 g pau flour*
  4. ¼ tsp salt
  5. 135-155 mL lukewarm water**
Directions for the filling
  1. In a skillet, heat the oil on medium high heat.
  2. Add the chopped onions and bake until golden brown.
  3. Add the chopped char siu and char siu marinade. Stir until mixed evenly.
  4. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
Directions for the pau dough
  1. In a bowl, mix the pau flour, yeast and sugar.
  2. Knead in the lukewarm water until you have a slightly sticky dough.
  3. Cover the dough and prove 1-2 hours or until doubled in size.
  4. In a small bowl, mix the remaining pau flour and salt. Set aside.
  5. In a large bowl, knead the starter dough and sugar until all sugar has been absorbed by the starter dough.
  6. Add the flour mixture and water. Knead until you have a soft and slightly sticky dough.
  7. Let the dough rise for 1 hour or until double in size.
Directions to make the paus
  1. Heat a large pan with water and 1 tsp white vinegar*** on high heat.
  2. Divide the pau dough in 18 equal portions.
  3. Roll out and shape each piece of dough with about 2 tsp of filling in each piece.
  4. Let the paus rest for 20-30 minutes. Then steam for 10-15 minutes on high heat.
  5. Serve immediately.
Notes
  1. *Pau flour is bleached flour. If you don't have this, use plain flour or cake flour. It will not affect the taste, just the color of the pau dough.
  2. **Amount of water can vary. Start with little and add to dough as you go until you have a slightly sticky dough.
  3. ***White vinegar is optional. It prevents calcium deposits.
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2 thoughts on “BEST Char Siu Pao

  1. OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO you’re making me so hungry right now. I have been craving these for so long ;_; Congratz on finally making the best ones! Also I love the little basket thing to keep/steam? them in!

    1. Hehe thank you, Olivia!! Char siu pao is SO GOOD, right? I can eat a whole batch by myself :’) Do you mean the bamboo steamer or the bamboo plate? I got the bamboo plate at HEMA. Love it.

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