Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Daring Cooks December 2011 - Char Siu & Char Siu Pau

Char Siu Pau
Char Siu
The final Daring Cook’s Challenge for the year – my how time has flown by. In fairness, I haven’t been the best Daring Cook, failing to complete a number of the challenges due to travelling and other commitments.

By hey, I managed to this challenge cooked and plated before the reveal date! Yay me! To be completely honest, there was no way I was going to let this challenge go by without making an effort. Char Siu has always been close to my heart – my late grandmother introduced me to this dish a long time ago. Every time I came home from university, she’d insist that she buy me Char Siu Rice from the restaurant nearby. It’s the only place I know which sells the perfect Char Siu; perfectly charred meat on the outside yet tender and succulent on the inside.

Seeing what this month’s challenge was brought back many nostalgic memories and when the dish was complete, I wished so hard that my grandmother was still here to savour it as she would have definitely agreed that this Char Siu recipe came pretty damn close to the one from ‘our’ restaurant. 
Our Daring Cooks’ December 2011 hostess is Sara from Belly Rumbles! Sara chose the awesome Char Siu Pau as our challenge, where we made the buns, Char Sui, and filling from scratch – delicious!

Char Siu also known as Cantonese BBQ Pork is widely available in Chinese restaurant and is used in many dishes such as in fried rice, noodles or even on its own. In Malaysia, we often have it with rice, a soy based sauce and some sliced cucumbers.

For the pork, we were given 3 cooking options to choose from; straight into the oven, seared on a hot pan then transferred into the oven or grilled on the BBQ.

For the paus/buns we have the option of either steaming or baking them. I have never taken a fancy to the steamed buns so naturally the baking option was my choice.

Sara also provided us with a vegetarian option – Mushroom Fillings for Baked Buns. The original Char Siu and vegetarian recipe can be found here.

Char Siu


1 pork loin
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1.5 tbsp maltose (or honey)
1 tbsp honey
2 tbsp hoisin suace
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp Chinese cooking wine
½ tsp ground white pepper
Pinch of salt
½ tsp five spice powder
½ tsp sesame oil
½ tsp red food colouring (optional)


  1. Place pork loin in a container that you will be marinating it in. If you prefer, cut the pork into smaller pieces as it allows for a more flavoursome Char Siu.
  2. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Pour the marinade over the pork and ensure that the pork is properly coated. Marinate for a minimum of 4 hours. 
*I left mine in refrigerator to marinate for 48 hours.

  1. Pre heat oven to 180C. Cover a baking tray with foil or baking paper. Place a rack on top of the baking tray on which the pork will cook.
  2. Place the pork in a hot pan and sear it quickly to seal the meat. Once the meat is sealed on every side, place the pork on the rack and baste it with the remaining marinade.
  3. Continue to baste the meat once every 5 minutes.
  4. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, depending on the size of your meat.
  5. Let the meat rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

Char Siu Pau

Filling Ingredients

350g Char Siu, diced

2 spring onions/scallions, thinly sliced

½ tbsp vegetable oil

4-5 tbsp reserved marinade from Char Siu

1 tbsp Chinese cooking wine

Dough Ingredients

2½ tsp dried yeast

55g sugar

½ cup warm water

280g plain flour

1 egg, slightly beaten

3 tbsp oil

½ tsp salt

Egg wash: 1 egg, beaten with a few drops of water.



  1. Heat oil in a wok/ frying pan and add diced Char Siu. Stir and let cook for a minute. Add the spring onions and leave to cook for another minute.
  2. Add the marinade and cooking wine and let it simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and leave to cool until ready to use.


  1. Place the sugar and warm water in a bowl and mix until sugar is dissolved. Add the yeast and leave for 15 minutes.
  2. Add flour into a large bowl and incorporate the egg, oil, salt and yeast mixture. Bring flour mixture together with your hands. Add more flour if the dough remains too sticky.
  3. Place dough on a floured surface and continuously knead for 10 minutes. The dough should be smooth and elastic.
  4. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a damp cloth. Leave to rise until doubled in size. This usually takes about 1-2 hours, depending on the weather condition.
  5. Once the dough has doubled in size, knock it back and divide it into 12 portions. Shape each portion into round balls.
  6. Roll out each ball into discs of about 3-4 inches in diameter. You can use a rolling pin or your hands.
  7. Place a heaped tablespoon of filling in the middle of the disc and gather the edges to the middle and seal your bun.
  8. Place the buns, sealed side down on a baking tray. Continue with the remaining balls of dough.
  9. Brush the surface of the buns with egg wash and bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.


  1. Looks amazing! I don't think I've had the Cantonese version, but I do love buns both Beijing and Sichuan style. Your meat looks wonderfully tender!

  2. Oh wow!!! char sui bau are our most favourite things in the world - but your recipe looks great- must try this - my partner will fall to his knees if I do. Thank-you.

  3. Indeed a delicious recipe!!! Will definitely try this :)

  4. These came out beautifully! I can see why they are such a favorite of so many people.

  5. Your photos are making me hungry for this all over again - your char sui and bao look so delicious!! Wonderful job!!

  6. Beautiful photos - you obviously have an eye for presentation, and I love that wooden tray :)

  7. Beautiful, did you save one for me? LOL

    I always add water to the dish underneath the meat, this keeps beautifully moist See method here

  8. Fantastic detailed photos :o) And delicious looking buns!

  9. Your photos are spectacular and wonderful to hear that they were so close to the steamed buns that you remember. Fabulous result. Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

  10. What beautiful pictures. I hope they tasted as good as they look!

  11. I am so happy you enjoyed my challenge and also that it was a nice memory of your grandmother.

    Your buns look so good, really awesome. I will admit I am a baked bun girl :)

  12. Looks so so delicious , i have been wanting to make a filled bread, this looks so so good.

  13. Great photos! Your char sui looks delicious.

  14. Thank you for visiting my blog. The buns look lovely. It was a great challenge and great fun pleating up the buns...Cheers :-)

  15. Gorgeous Char Siu and Char Siu Bao! Great job for this month's challenge!

  16. I love your pictures and I am really glad they reaminded you of the dish you remember
    Great job on this challenge

  17. Looks amazing! mouth watering already! You are so talented! You shhould open a cafe!!

  18. I did the steamed buns, looking at your photos makes me sad that I didn't also do the baked ones.

  19. Kiri : Thanks hun!:) You should try the Cantonese version, it won't let you down!

    Bananamondaes: My pleasure :) Hope it turns out well!

    Teena: Let know how it turns out :)

    Cher: It tastes delicious as well! :)

    Shelly: Thank you :)

    Six One: Thanks, I knicked if off my mum ;)

    Deb: Thanks for the tip, will make sure to do that the next time. :)

    Ruth: Awh thank you :)

    Audax: That's very kind of you to say!

    Beth: Thank you :) It sure did!

    Sara: Thank you for such a wonderful challenge! Baked buns all the way :)

    Finla: Thank you! You should definitely give this ago!

    The Garlic Press: Thank you :)

    Foodbowl: Its my pleasure. Great job on your end too :)

    Chef d: Thanks hun :)

    Sawsan: Thank you :) That's the beauty of food isn't it - it can hold such good memories!

    Suresh: Little brother, you flatter me :)

    Rhonda: It's never too late ;)