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Char Siu with Crackling Spinach

Char Siu Bao

After my first Daring Baker’s challenge, came my first Daring cooks challenge. Char Siu and Char Siu Bao.

Blog-checking lines: Our Daring Cooks’ December 2011 hostess is Sara from Belly Rumbles! Sara chose awesome Char Sui Bao as our challenge, where we made the buns, Char Sui, and filling from scratch – delicious!

Char Siu is nothing but Chinese(Cantonese) bbq pork (I used chicken instead) and char Siu bao is buns (bao) stuffed with a filling made with chopped char Siu.

I eat a lot of Chinese food, but most of it is Indo-Chinese. But the few times that I have eaten the authentic Chinese food, I have really liked it. Even while cooking, I have cooked only a few Chinese dishes before like Kung Pao.

Chinese food is all about the balance. Sweet yet slightly sour.

I used chicken in place of traditionally used pork, as it’s difficult to find good pork where I live. I couldn’t even find Hoisin sauce so I made my own substitute version, after a lot of research on Google. Here’s the recipe.

I don’t have a bbq grill so I cooked the chicken breasts on a pan but got a nice caramelization as a result of the sugar in the marinade and the chicken breasts were nice and moist.

I was thinking of serving the Char Siu with some rice or noodles to make it into a complete meal, but then thought of keeping it light and so served it with crackling spinach. The crunchy texture of the spinach went very well with the chicken.

The bao was nice and soft with the moist filling in the middle and didn’t need a dip or anything else.

I’ll definitely use the bao dough recipe with different fillings in the future. This is my new Go to recipe for stuffed buns from now on.

Overall, my first daring cooks challenge was fun and I am super excited for the next one!!!

Char Siu Recipe


  • 1 teaspoon (6 gm) salt
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon (3 gm) ground white pepper
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons (30 gm/1 oz) sugar
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon shaoxing cooking wine ( I used a simple red wine, nothing special)
  • 1 teaspoon (3 gm) five spice
  • 3-4 drops of red food colour
  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp ginger, crushed
  • Chicken breasts (the marinade is enough for about 6 chicken breasts)
  • (1 tablespoon=15 ml, 1 teaspoon=5 m


  1. Combine all the other ingredients in a bowl and mix well to combine.
  2. Cover chicken well with ⅔ of the marinade mixture. Marinate overnight. Place the reserved ⅓ portion of the marinade covered in the fridge which will be used as a baste when cooking the chicken.
  3. Cook the chicken breasts over a bbq grill or on a gas stove in a heavy pan or in the oven.

Char Siu Bao Recipe

Filling (for 12 buns)


  • 350 gm (12 oz) char siu (finely diced)
  • 2 green onions/spring onions (finely sliced)
  • 1 tablespoon hoisin
  • 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) chicken stock ( I added about 30 ml more to make the filling moist)
  • 1 teaspoon (2 gm) cornflour
  • ½ tablespoon vegetable oil
  • (1 tablespoon=15 ml, 1 teaspoon=5 ml)


  1. Heat the vegetable oil in a wok or pan.
  2. Add diced char siu to the wok/pan and stir then add spring onions, cook for 1 minute.
  3. Add hoisin, dark soy sauce and sesame oil to the chicken char siu mixture, stir fry for one minute.
  4. Mix cornflour and stock together and then add to the mixture.
  5. Stir well and keep cooking until the mixture thickens, 1 or 2 minutes.
  6. Remove mixture from wok/pan and place in a bowl to cool. Set aside until ready to use.

Bao Dough (12 buns)

I used half the recipe to make 6 baos


  • 2½ teaspoons (8 gm/1 satchel) of dried yeast
  • ¼ cup (55 gm/2 oz) sugar
  • ½ cup warm water
  • 2 cups (280 gm/10 oz) plain flour
  • 1 egg (medium size – slightly beaten)
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • ½ teaspoon (3 gm) salt
  • Egg wash: 1 egg beaten with a dash of water
  • (1 cup=240 ml, 1 tablespoon=15 ml, 1 teaspoon=5 ml)


  1. Place the sugar and warm water in a bowl, mix until the sugar has dissolved. Add yeast and leave it for 10 – 15 minutes until it becomes all frothy.
  2. Sift flour in to a large bowl.
  3. Add yeast mixture, egg, oil and salt and stir. Bring the flour mixture together with your hands.
  4. Place dough on a lightly floured surface and knead for approximately 10 minutes. The dough should be smooth and slightly elastic.
  5. Place in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a damp cloth. Leave to rise until it is double in size. This will take from 1 – 2 hours depending on weather conditions.
  6. Once dough has doubled in size knock back and divide in to 12 portions and shape in to round balls.
  7. Use a rolling pin to roll out to approximately 5cm (2 inches) in diameter. Then pick the piece of dough up and gently pull the edges to enlarge to about 8cm (3 inches) in diameter.
  8. Place a good sized tablespoon of filling on the dough circle. Then gather the edges and seal your bun.
  9. Place the bun seal side down on your baking tray. Continue with rest of dough
  10. Once all buns are complete brush surface with egg wash.
  11. Place in a preheated oven of 200º C/392º F for 15 minutes or until golden brown.