Manapua or Chinese Bao

Manapua or Chinese Bao

What is a Manapua?  Simply put it’s the Hawaiian name for the yummy Chinese Bao, that slightly sweet dough stuffed with barbecued pork then steamed to form a shiny outer skin surrounding the fluffy bread and sweet savory filling.

In the 19th. century Cantonese Chinese immigrants came to the Hawaiian islands to work in the sugarcane plantations.  They brought with them their heritage and cuisine.  One of the delectable foods they brought to the islands was the Cha Sui Bao, that barbecued pork filled steamed bun.  It soon became a favorite with the locals who called them Mea’ono’pua’a (Mea’ono means bread and pua’a means pork).  Over time that name morphed into Manapua, which is what we call it today.

Along with the name change the traditional Manapua also evolved into different flavors.  These days one can easily find Shoyu Chicken, Lap Cheung (Chinese Sausage), Pizza and Curry Manapuas at the 7/11 and other Manapua Shops and trucks.  Actually you can stuff the dough with just about anything you want; I make adobo manapuas!

Manapuas are found everywhere in Hawaii, but homemade ones are still the best!  They’re great for snacks, picnics, and even as a light lunch.  They are one of my family’s favorite foods!

When I make manapua I usually use store bought Char Siu pork or chicken.  Both are readily available at our local supermarkets.  But sometimes I make my own, it’s not that hard.  So today I’ll share the recipe for makng manapua and the barbecue meat filling we call Char Siu.

Char Siu – It can be used to fill steamed buns or sliced mix with noodles or rice.

  • 1 lb. skinless pork belly or boneless skinless chicken thighs (trim off excess fat from the meat)
  • 2 Tbs. Shaoxing Cooking wine
  • 2 Tbs. Soy Sauce
  • 2 Tbs. Sugar
  • 3 Cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbs. Hoisin Sauce
  • 1 Tsp. Five Spice Powder
  • 1/8 Cup Honey except honey together and pour in to a ziplock bag.

Marinate in the fridge for 2-3 hours.

Place meat in a roasting pan and brush top with honey.

Bake in a 325° oven for 40 – 45 minutes or until meat is cooked.  The meat is done when it starts to turn crisp on the outside and the center is firm.

Remove from oven and cool for about 10 minutes.

Slice into thin strips or if using for manapua filling dice into 1/4″ cubes.


  • 3/4 Cup diced char siu meat (pork or chicken)
  • 1 Tbs. Sesame Oil
  • 1 Stalk Green Onions chopped
  • 1/3 Cup Fresh Cilantro chopped
  • 2 1/2 Tbs. sugar
  • 1/4 cup Soy Sauce
  • 1/8 Tsp. Salt
  • 2 Tsp. Flour
  • 2 Tsp. Corn Starch
  • 1/4 Cup water
  • 2 – 3 drops red food coloring

Heat oil in a pan.  Fry diced char siu for about 30 seconds.  Add green onions, cilantro, sugar, soy sauce, and salt.  Stir so it doesn’t burn.

Dissolve Flour and cornstarch in the water.

Stir into char sui mixture to thicken.

Remove from heat and cool.

  • 2 Cups Cake Flour
  • 1 1/2 Cup Flour
  • 1 Tbs. Vegetable Shortening
  • 1/4 Cup Baker’s Sugar
  • 1 Tbs. Dry Yeast
  • 1 Cup warm water

Combine 2 flours and put 3 cups of the mixture in the bowl of your standing mixer.  (or in a bowl if you’re mixing with your hands)

Using a dough hook cut in shortening.

Stir in about 2 tbs. sugar.

In a separate bowl combine remaining sugar with the yeast and add 1/3 Cup warm water.

Stir until yeast is dissolved.

Add the rest of the flour mixture to the yeast and mix well.

Add the yeast mixture and the remaining water to the flour mixture in the bowl.

Knead with the dough hook until smooth and elastic.

Turn dough in to a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel.

Let it sit at room temperature until dough doubles in size, about 1 hour.  If it’s too cold proof in the oven until it doubles in size.

Divide dough into about 18 balls.

Flatten each ball with a rolling pin into a circle about 1/4″ thick.

Place 1 Tbs. filling in the center.

Pull sides of dough around filling and pinch to seal the seams.

Place buns on little squares of wax paper to keep them closed.

Place in a rack or a bamboo steamer and steam for 15 minutes.

Serve hot or freeze for later use.






Manapua or Chinese Bao
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Pork Adobo

Pork Adobo

    1. This is a recipe post for Filipino Pork Adobo. It is a dish composed of pork slices cooked in soy sauce, vinegar, and garlic. There are version wherein onions are also added. Adobo is a popular dish in the Philippines, along with Sinigang.

Adobo, in general, can be cooked using different kinds of protein. Chicken is the commonly used ingredient. Have you tried cooking Filipino Chicken Adobo yet? Our tried and tested recipe should be able to help you.

Filipino Pork Adobo vs. Mexican Adobo

The word Adobo was derived from the Spanish word “adobar”. It means to marinate. This can be in the form of a liquid marinade or to rub using a combination of powdered ingredient.

This version of Filipino Adobo suggests marinating the pork in soy sauce and crushed garlic. By preference, vinegar can also be added as a marinade ingredient.

Mexican adobo, on the other hand, makes use of chillies, garlic, cinnamon, and oregano as marinade.

Both dishes look and taste different. It will be unfair to compare which among the two dishes are best because each of us has our own preference when it comes to flavor.

Filipino Pork Adobo Versions

The Philippines is composed of composed of many islands. It was initially estimated to be around 7,107. At present, the count rose to 7,641. Each of these islands belong to a cluster, which are divided into regions.

Pork Adobo

Almost every region in the Philippines have their own pork adobo version. Sometimes, there can be more than one version in a location.

The Basic Pork Adobo version is what you see in the recipe below. There are also similar versions with additional ingredients.

Pork and Chicken Adobo is perhaps one of the favorite when it comes to family picnics. This is a dish wherein pork and chicken slices are combined and cooked inadobo style. It can be done the same way as this recipe, with or without onions. This is our clans signature summer dish in the Philippines. I remember my tito’s and tita’s prepare a large portion every summer outing. We would go to Pansol in Laguna to rent a swimming pool for the clan and they would bring with them two large cauldrons (kaldero). One has the adobo in it, while the other is for the rice.

Pork Adobo with Potato is another version that I tried. This is a saucier pork adobo version with cubes of potatoes in it. I’m not sure where this dish originated. It might have been initially created as a filler to feed more people. Nevertheless, I liked the taste. I think that it can be improved by pan-frying the potato first. Most of the flavors gets absorbed by the potato. It can be a carbohydrate overload when you eat the potato with rice. This is a good dish to have when before going to the gym or before starting a marathon.

I cook Pork Adobo with Eggs all the time. This is my favorite. There are two ways to make it. Both ways require boiling the eggs beforehand.  The first version is cooked by adding boiled eggs once the pork gets tender. The eggs absorb the soy sauce, thus becomes darker in color. Be cautious about the time when cooking this way. We don’t want to overcook the eggs.

How can we tell if an egg is overcooked? It is simple. Egg yolk contain iron. When eggs are cooked longer than the usual, the iron turns greenish. This color formation happens between the yolk and egg white. We often refer to this as rings. Slice the boiled egg in half and try to examine the color of the outer yolk. When you see a dark ring around it, that means the egg is overcooked.

The other version of the adobo with egg is easier and does not put the eggs at risk of overcooking (unless it was overcooked during the boiling process). Simply add boiled eggs on the serving plate before serving. The eggs also retains its white color.

Pork Adobo with Tofu is a protein-rich adobo version. This is perfect for people who like their adobo mild in flavor. This version requires fried tofu. Always use extra firm tofu when making this. You can purchase raw tofu and fry it, or you can get packaged fried tofu from the supermarket.

The tofu absorbs most of the sauce in the process which tones down the flavor a bit. This is a good dish to prepare when you are into body building or into a protein-rich diet. Make sure to use lean cuts of pork though.

A favorite among our group of friends who like to drink beer is Spicy Pork Adobo. This is the perfect pulutan as far as I am concerned. The spicier it gets, the better it becomes. I tried making this dish using the former spiciest chili pepper in the world, Bhut Jolokia (It lost its crown to the Carolina Reaper, which is way spicier).  The result was a very delicious and extremely spicy adobo. The spice lingers in the mouth for a while. Be forewarned.

Adobong Baboy sa Gata is a classic. This is notorious for making people on limited-rice-diet crave for more rice. It is very rich, tasty, and delicious. Add a few pieces of Thai chili pepper, and you will not get enough of it.

How to Cook Pork Adobo

Pork Adobo Recipe

This version suggests marinating the pork to make it more flavorful. Pork belly and other fatty cuts of pork are ideal for this recipe.

The first thing to do is marinate the pork belly in soy sauce and crushed garlic. It is best to marinate it overnight. If time is limited, one hour should be enough. Some like to add vinegar during the process. You may do so if preferred.

Drain the marinade. Save it for later. The marinated pork needs to be browned. Heat a cooking pot. Add pork with garlic. You can also add a few tablespoons of cooking oil. Cook the pork until it turns brown.

The pork needs to be cooked until tender. Do this by pouring the remaining marinade, if any. Also add water. Let the liquid boil. This is the part where I put the whole peppercorn and dried bay leaves. These ingredients complete my pork adobo. Boiling for 40 minutes should be enough to tenderize the pork. There are times when you have to cook longer.

If you have not added the vinegar as part of the marinade, pour it into the pot and let it cook for 10 minutes. Salt is an optional ingredient for this recipe. Use it only if you think its needed.

Pork Adobo Alterative and Additional Ingredients

Pork – Use any cut of pork that you prefer. I suggest pork belly for best results. However, use leaner parts if you are trying to avoid fats. Pork tenderloin is a healthier choice. This is very tender and contains way less fat than pork belly. You can also use other proteins such as chicken and goat meat using this recipe.

Onion – This recipe does not suggest the use of onion. I think that onions help improve the taste of adobo. Use red, yellow, or white onion for this recipe. Make sure to chop it into small pieces.

Dried Bay Leaves – this is an ingredient that you can almost always find most of the time in the spice section of your local supermarket. Believe it or not, but this makes a huge difference when cooking adobo.

Whole Peppercorn – this is a traditional ingredient. It will not matter if you use crushed peppercorn or ground black pepper. Sichuan peppercorns are also good alternatives.

Sugar – adding a teaspoon of sugar will move your pork adobo on the sweeter side. I personally love the taste of adobo with a bit of sugar.


Pork Adobo Recipe

Basic Filipino Prok Adobo with Soy Sauce, Vinegar, and Garlic. This delicious dish is perfect when served over newly cooked white rice.
 CourseMain Course
 Prep Time10 minutes
 Cook Time1 hour
 Total Time1 hour 10 minutes
 AuthorVanjo Merano


  • 2 lbs pork belly
  • 2 tablespoons garlic minced or crushed
  • 5 pieces dried bay leaves
  • 4 tablespoons vinegar
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon peppercorn
  • 2 cups water
  • Salt to taste



  • Combine the pork belly, soy sauce, and garlic then marinate for at least 1 hour
  • Heat the pot and put-in the marinated pork belly then cook for a few minutes
  • Pour remaining marinade including garlic.
  • Add water, whole pepper corn, and dried bay leaves then bring to a boil. Simmer for 40 minutes to 1 hour
  • Put-in the vinegar and simmer for 12 to 15 minutes
  • Add salt to taste
  • Serve hot. Share and enjoy!

Watch How to Cook Pork Adobo


Serving: 4g | Calories: 1211kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 120g | Saturated Fat: 43g | Cholesterol: 163mg | Sodium: 1700mg | Potassium: 530mg | Fiber: 1g | Vitamin A: 115IU | Vitamin C: 2.5mg | Calcium: 50mg | Iron: 2.7mg
Pork Adobo
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4 people
4 people
Pork Adobo
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4 people
4 people
Servings: people
  1. Combine the pork belly, soy sauce, and garlic then marinate for at least 1 hour
  2. Heat the pot and put-in the marinated pork belly then cook for a few minutes
  3. Pour remaining marinade including garlic. Add water, whole pepper corn, and dried bay leaves then bring to a boil.
  4. Simmer for 40 minutes to 1 hour
  5. Put-in the vinegar and simmer for 12 to 15 minutes
  6. Add salt to taste Serve hot. Share and enjoy!
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Chilli-and-marmalade-glazed pork belly squares

Chilli-and-marmalade-glazed pork belly squares

 Makes 25



Kick off a festive party with our easy canapés. These sticky-sweet bites can be partly prepared ahead for fuss-free entertaining


Roast the pork belly ahead then chill before cubing, roasting and glazing on the day.


  • pork belly 1.25kg, skinless and excess fat trimmed
  • marmalade 150g


  • dried chilli flakes 1 tsp
  • soy sauce 2 tbsp
  • orange 1, juiced


  • STEP 1

    Heat the oven to 170C/fan 150C/gas 3. Put the pork belly into a roasting tin, cover tightly with foil and roast for 2 hours 30 minutes. Cool to room temperature, or chill if making ahead, and cut into bite-sized pieces.


  • STEP 2

    Heat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Put the pork belly squares into a roasting tray and roast, turning regularly, for 30 minutes.


  • STEP 3

    Put the marmalade, chilli flakes, soy sauce and orange juice in a small pan and bubble until reduced and syrupy.


  • STEP 4

    Pour over the pork belly, gently toss and roast for another 5 minutes until the pieces are glazed. Pierce with cocktail sticks to serve.

Chilli-and-marmalade-glazed pork belly squares
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Servings Prep Time
25 Makes 1 1/2 Hour
Servings Prep Time
25 Makes 1 1/2 Hour
Chilli-and-marmalade-glazed pork belly squares
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Servings Prep Time
25 Makes 1 1/2 Hour
Servings Prep Time
25 Makes 1 1/2 Hour
Servings: Makes
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Fall-apart bourbon ribs

Fall-apart bourbon ribs

Serves 4-6


Few things are more satisfying to eat than tender, sticky ribs. This recipe adds a bourbon kick to the sweet glaze, providing a real depth of flavour. It will be a family favourite.



  • baby back ribs 3 racks, cut into portions or 4-5 ribs
  • star anise 2
  • allspice berries 8



  • bourbon whiskey 6 tbsp
  • light brown soft sugar 100g
  • tomato ketchup 100g
  • Dijon mustard 2 tbsp
  • Worcestershire sauce 3 tbsp
  • soy sauce 4 tbsp
  • ground allspice 1½ tsp


  • STEP 1 Heat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Put the rib pieces, flesh side down, in a single layer in a large roasting tin. Pour over enough boiling water to just cover, then add the spices. Tightly cover with foil and cook for 2 hours.


  • STEP 2 Put all the glaze ingredients in a pan with 2 tbsp water and heat until melted together.


  • STEP 3 Take the ribs out the oven and turn it up to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Drain all the liquid from the tin. Turn the ribs flesh side up and baste with the glaze. Roast for 30 minutes, adding more glaze halfway through until the ribs are sticky and shiny. Serve, making sure there are plenty of napkins for everyone.

Kcals 629     Fat41.4g     Saturates14.8g     Carbs23.3g     Fibre0.2g     Protein31.3g      Salt3.8g

Fall-apart bourbon ribs
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Fall-apart bourbon ribs
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Loin of Pork with Fennel and Garlic

Loin of Pork with Fennel and Garlic

Level: Easy

Total: 2 hr

Prep: 10 min

Inactive: 50 min

Cook: 1 hr

Yield: 8 servings



1 (5-pound) loin of pork, bone in,”frenched” and tied

6 garlic cloves

1/3 cup fresh rosemary leaves, chopped

2 tablespoons lemon zest (about 2 lemons)




2 teaspoons fennel seeds

2 tablespoons good olive oil

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Allow the pork to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.

2. Place the pork, fat side up, in a roasting pan just large enough to hold it comfortably. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade process the garlic, rosemary, lemon zest, and fennel seeds until roughly chopped. Add the olive oil, mustard, salt and pepper and process until it forms a smooth paste. Rub the paste on top of the pork and roast for 1 to 1 1/4 hours, or until the internal temperature reaches 140 degrees F. Remove from the oven, transfer to a cutting board, and cover with aluminum foil. Allow to sit for 20 minutes, then remove the strings, slice between the bones and serve warm.

Loin of Pork with Fennel and Garlic
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Loin of Pork with Fennel and Garlic
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