Homemade Siopao Asado recipe is easy and fun to make. With a sweet and savory meat filling and soft and fluffy bread, the steamed buns are just as good or even better than store-bought. Plus learn the tips on how to make the buns pearly white!
If you've been following me on Instagram, you probably saw the photo I posted of my sorry attempt on siopao making. A #majorfail!
They were so hard and dense; they would have put down Goliath to sleep.
I usually use refrigerated biscuits to cheat my way to a delicious siopao treat, but I wanted to up my game and learn how to make the dough from scratch. It was easy enough to tweak the Asado filling to get the right balance of sweet and salty I wanted, but the bun itself proved more difficult.
I tried the many different variations I found online, but I just couldn't find the texture I was looking for. I was ready to throw in my white towel when I saw a tutorial for Vietnamese steamed buns on Youtube and it looked promising enough to get me back on my siopao quest.
And the recipe was indeed spot on! The buns came out soft, fluffy, and pearly white; just the way I like it.
Siopao can be made with various fillings and the two most popular in Filipino cuisine are bola-bola and pork Asado which we'll be using in this recipe.
- To prepare the shredded meat, pork shoulder is braised in a mixture of soy sauce, oyster sauce, sugar, and star anise until fork-tender and redolent of sweet and savory taste. The resulting liquid is then thickened with a cornstarch slurry to use as a sauce for the steamed buns.
- Cool the filling before using as the escaping steam might tear the dough.
- To simplify the process, it can be prepped in advance. Allow to cool completely, transfer in an airtight container, and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
- For variety, you can substitute boneless chicken thighs for the pork.
- Please note that the amounts for the flour and sugar in the dough recipe are in weight and not volume (grams vs cups). I suggest using a kitchen scale to ensure accurate measurements and a more consistent product.
- In a small bowl, combine the warm milk, yeast, sugar, and salt. Mix well and let stand for about 5 to 10 minutes or until foamy. This step is to “prove” the yeast is alive and active.
- Check the temperature of the milk to ensure it's at 105 to 115 F . If the milk is not warm enough, it might not activate the yeast. Too hot and it might kill the yeast.
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, the rest of the sugar, and baking powder. Stir until well-incorporated.
- Add the oil and squeeze a few drops of lime juice into the flour mixture to help whiten the buns. Add the yeast mixture and stir until combined.
- In the bowl, knead the dough for about 10 to 12 minutes or until smooth, elastic, and no longer sticky. Adequately kneading the dough will result in a smooth steamed bun without wrinkling.
- Form the dough into a ball, cover with plastic film or a clean kitchen towel, and let rest until doubled in size. Depending on the ambient temperature, this will take about 2 to 2 ½ hours.
- Turn the dough out on a flat working surface. Form into a long log and cut into ten pieces. You can also use a weighing scale to ensure even size.
- Form each dough into a ball and arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise for another 30 minutes or until puffy.
- Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough balls into a 4 to 5-inch flat disk. Make sure the edges are thinner than the center to keep the filling from leaking.
- Place a tablespoon or so of the shredded pork in the center. Try to keep the filling away from the edges to make pleating easier.
- Gather the edges and pleat around the filling. Pinch and twist to seal completely. Place the prepared buns on a square parchment paper and let rest for another ten minutes.
- Add a couple of tablespoons of vinegar to the steaming water which is again for whiter siopao.
- Arrange the dough in a single layer, about 1-inch apart on a steamer and steam for about 15 to 20 minutes. Steam on LOW heat to keep the buns from collapsing or deflating.
- After steaming, turn off the heat and keep the lid on for about 3 to 5 minutes to prevent the siopao from collapsing.
- Remove the buns from the steamer and serve with the sauce. Careful! The filling may be too hot!
- mixing bowls
- thermometer to check the liquid temperature, optional
- food scale to weigh flour and sugar
- rolling pin
- wax or parchment paper, cut into 4 x 4-inch squares
How to serve and store steamed pork buns
- Serve as a filling midday snack or a part of the main meal. Siopao and mami noodle soup combo is one of the most iconic food pairings in the Philippines.
- Store leftovers in a container with a tight-fitting lid and keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- To freeze, arrange in a single layer with space in between on a baking sheet and freeze until firm. When frozen, transfer to resealable bags or airtight containers and keep in the freezer for up to 2 months.
- To reheat, thaw in the refrigerator and steam for 3 to 5 minutes.
For the Asado Filling
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 1 small onion, peeled and chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 1 pound pork butt or shoulder, cut into large chunks
- 2 cups water
- ⅓ cup soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 2 star anise
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
For the Siopao Dough
- 260 ml warm milk (105 to 115 F)
- 2 teaspoons dry instant yeast
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 500 grams all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 100 grams sugar
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
For the Siopao Filling
- In a pot over medium heat, heat oil. Add onions and garlic and cook until softened.
- Add pork and cook, turning as needed, until lightly browned.
- Add 2 cups of the water, soy sauce, oyster sauce, sugar, and star anise. Stir until well-dispersed. Bring to a boil, skimming scum that may float on top.
- Lower heat, cover, and continue to cook for about 1 hour or until meat is fork-tender. Add more water in half cup increments as needed to maintain 1 1 /2 cups liquid.
- With a slotted spoon, remove pork from the pot and let cool to touch. Using two forks, shred meat.
- Remove about 1 cup of the braising liquid and set aside. Return shredded meat to pot and bring to a boil.
- In a bowl, combine cornstarch and bout ¼ cup water. Stir until smooth and cornstarch is dissolved. Add half of the cornstarch slurry to the pot of meat and stir to distribute. Continue to cook for about 1 to 2 minutes or until thickened. Remove from pan and allow to cool.
- In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the reserved 1 cup braising liquid and the remaining half of the cornstarch slurry. Bring to a boil, stirring regularly, for about 2 to 3 minutes or until thickened. This well be the siopao sauce.
For the Siopao Dough
- In a bowl, combine milk, yeast, the 2 tablespoons sugar, and salt. Stir well until dissolved. Let stand for about 5 to 10 minutes or until the mixture is foamy.
- In a large bowl, combine flour, the 100 grams sugar, baking powder, and vegetable oil. Mix well. Add a few drops of lime juice into the flour mixture.
- Add yeast mixture to the flour mixture. Mix together until it forms a dough. Continue to mix and knead until the dough is smooth and no longer sticky.
- Cover with a clean kitchen towel and allow to rise in a warm place for about 2 hours or until double in size.
- Remove the dough from the bowl, place on a clean work surface, and form into a long log.
- With a knife, cut the dough into 10 equal size pieces and then form each piece into smaller balls. Cover the dough with a clean kitchen towel and allow to rise for about 30 minutes.
To assemble Siopao Buns
- On a clean working surface, place one piece of dough, and with a rolling pin, roll out into about 4 to 5-inch diameter, making sure to get edges thinner than the center.
- Place about a tablespoon of the meat filling in the center.
- Gather the edges of the dough, pleat around the filling, and twist to fully secure. Place bun on a piece of parchment or wax paper. Repeat with remaining dough and filling.
- Arrange prepared buns in a single layer on a flat baking sheet, cover with a kitchen towel, and allow to rise again for another 10 minutes.
- In a steamer, place buns in a single layer, an inch-apart. Add about 2 tablespoons of vinegar to the steaming water (for whiter buns).
- Steam buns on low heat for about 15 to 20 minutes. Keep the lid on for about 3 to 5 minutes to prevent the buns from deflating.
- Remove from steamer and serve with the asado sauce.