The steamed or baked asian bun. What exactly is it. Well Filipinos call it “Siopao”, in China it’s called a “Bao”, and in Hawaii we call it “Manapua”. These names all refer to the same thing. That soft spongy ball of dough filled with a variety of fillings like sweet char siu pork, chicken curry, Chinese sausage, or sweet black bean paste; then steamed or baked to perfection.
Siopao, Bao, Manapua, or whatever you want to call it is a family favorite. It can be an appetizer, a snack, lunch, dinner, or dessert. It all depends on what it’s filled with. It’s the perfect picnic food. Easy to pack and very easy to eat. Don’t forget it’s delicious too!
In Hawaii and all over Asia these steamed or baked buns are sold out of food trucks, in restaurants, and even at neighborhood convenience stores like 7Eleven. Everyone has their own favorite place where they’ll swear make the best buns. In Hawaii my all time favorite is the Aiea Manapua & Snack Shop, this little hole in the wall joint that has been serving the most amazing char sui and shoyu chicken manapuas for years.
But in some places siopao or baos are not so easily found and there fore you may have to make it at home whenever you’ve got a yen for some. Or sometimes you just want a unique filling that they don’t sell in the stores. That’s why we have this tried and true Siopao recipe that we use to make homemade steamed buns. In this recipe I will fill it with another Filipino favorite, chicken adobo.
You can use the my Chicken Adobo recipe just substitute boneless chicken thighs instead of bone in chicken parts. Or you can fill it with Pork Adobo, it’s the same recipe as the chicken but uses pork butt instead of chicken. Or you can fill it with your favorite meat or veggies. Really the recipe for the bun is the same regardless of the filling you choose to use. Click here for chicken adobo recipe.
So today I’m sharing the recipe for the steamed bun dough. You can fill it with anything you want.
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1/4 cup warm water
1 packet active dry yeast
2 tbs. sugar
1 1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup sugar
4 1/2 – 5 cups flour
3 tbs. oil
1 1/2 tsp. salt
Place the 1/4 cup warm water in a small bowl or measuring cup
Add dry yeast packet and 2 tbs. sugar
Do not stir just swish it around so the yeast is wet and the sugar disolves
Set aside for about 10 minutes or until it is frothy
Place the remaining ingredients in a mixing bowl, but do not add all the flour. Start with about 4 cups, you can add the remaining flour as you knead to get the correct dough consistency. You may not need all the flour.
Add the activated yeast mix and mix well to form a medium soft dough. Add remaining flour in small increments until you achieve the correct consistency.
Knead the dough by hand or with an electric mixer using the dough hook attachment. Knead until the dough is very smooth and elastic.
Turn into and oiled mixing bowl. Roll the dough in the bowl to cover with oil.
Cover with plastic film and leave to rise in a warm place until it doubles in size.
Punch out excess air and divide into about 24 balls.
Flatten each ball into a flat circle on a lightly floured surface. Flatten dough to about 1/4″ thick.
Place a heaping tablespoonful of filling in the center of the flat dough then draw edges towards the center and crimp or twist closed.
Place each ball on a small square of parchment paper, crimped side down and let rest until it doubles in size.
Be patient because properly risen dough will turn into light and fluffy buns!
When dough is properly risen steam each bun on high heat for 15 – 20 minutes.
Serve warm or cold. Store left over buns in the fridge in zip lock bags. To reheat either re-steam or cover with a damp paper towel and heat in the