Siopao is a Hokkien term for baozi which means steamed buns. In Thailand it is called salapao and in Philippines it’s called siopao. It is a very popular street food in Philippines which was definitely influenced by the Chinese. There are a lot of variants of these wonderful steamed buns and the most common one is the char siu bao (barbecued pork). In the Philippines the most common one is the Asado Siopao (Sweet Pork), Chicken Pao (Minced Chicken), Bola Bola (Minced Meat) and the special Siopao (mixed meats with duck eggs), for vegetable lovers there are also options like cuapao (Meat with Vegetables). But Pao’s are not limited to savoury types there are also the sweet types like the mung bean paste steamed buns and lotus seed steamed buns.
I love siopao and I can eat this every day, I remember when I was a child I always ask my mom to buy me some siopao before she goes home after work. I guess it’s not just me but most of the kids in the Philippines do like this, I am saying that because it’s common to moms in the Philippines to tell their children that the meat in this delicious treat is made out of stray cats meat so they would avoid asking for it. This was the equivalent of hamburger during my time, when McDonald’s haven’t dominated the streets of Manila yet.
I miss siopao specially the Kowloon House Jumbo pao which consists of mixed meats (Chicken, Barbecue Pork and Beef), Chinese sausage and salted duck egg. I can say this was the best siopao I had ever tried and to prove it to my taste buds when I used to stay in Hong Kong I tried a lot of different type of steamed buns almost every day and nothing made it even closer. I know they have great steamed buns there but still I crave for the Kowloon House Jumbo pao. Well this recipe is not for that type of steamed bun, as I had tried doing it before and I failed so I will opt in for a simpler version which is called Asado Siopao. The filling is nearly similar to the pulled pork but the sauce is Asian inspired. A bit time consuming to make but it is definitely worth the effort and wait.
3 cups dumpling flour + 1/2 cup for dusting
200ml warm water
1/2 cup + 2 tsp white sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp shortening or vegetable oil (use shortening to make it whiter in colour)
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tbsp active dry yeast
1/4 cup lukewarm water
400g pork loin, cubed
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp hoisin sauce
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch, dissolved in 1/3 cup water
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp Chinese five spice powder
1 cup water
Ingredients (Water for Steaming)
water, for steaming
1 tbsp of vinegar per litre of water, for steaming
1. On a pan add oil and sauté garlic then add pork, stir fry pork for 3 minutes.
2. Add water, soy sauce, brown sugar and 5 spice powder. Bring to a boil and simmer in low heat for 2 hours or until the meat breaks apart, mixing occasionally to prevent burning, add additional water if needed.
3. Once meat has broken down add hoisin sauce then thicken it with cornstarch mixture, simmer further until sauce thickens.
4. Season with salt. Turn heat off then set aside.
Method (Steamed Buns)
1. Mix together yeast, 2 tsp sugar, and 1/4 cup lukewarm water. Set aside in a warm location for 30 minutes.
2. Mix remaining ingredients except for the baking powder then knead dough until dough surface smooth and texture is elastic; occasionally dust the board with dumpling flour. Place in a greased bowl then place in a warm location, set aside for 2 hours. After two hours the size would be doubled.
3. Deflate dough then spread on floured board. Add the baking powder evenly then knead for 5 minutes.
4. Divide into 8 – 10 pieces then roll them thin, place a good amount of the meat mixture in the middle then seal them on top, place buns in a greased paper. Do with the remaining dough and filling. Set aside in a warm location for 30 minutes.
5. Prepare your steamer by pouring water and vinegar. Vinegar will make sure your buns are white.
6. Place buns into steamer container then steam siopao for 20-25 minutes.