Recipe: Vietnamese Steamed Pork Buns – Bánh bao (Life’s Simple Ingredient)

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I’ve been seeing jokes about everyone baking more since we’re all at home these days and frankly, all jokes aside, I think it’s awesome! Make that sourdough bread or cookies. Bake that cake.

Have fun in the kitchen if you’ve got more time to do so!

I haven’t gotten into baking my own bread (yet?) but I’ve definitely been making and consuming more pandemic buns and dumplings.

So it was perfect timing for this partnership with Life’s Simple Ingredient. They asked if I wanted to share a recipe involving “Life’s Simple Ingredient” (wheat!) and promote their contest, and I am happy to oblige!

Enter to win a stand mixer and Canadian wheat flour:
  • Follow @lifessimpleingredient on Instagram or @lifesingredient on Twitter
  • Post a photo of you baking or of what you baked on Instagram or Twitter
  • Include the hashtag #LifesSimpleIngredient in your post
  • Post as many baked creations as you want, there is no limit on entries!
  • Just make sure your post(s) are made between May 8-21, 2020.

That’s it!

Now for my recipe!!

Recipe: Vietnamese Steamed Pork Buns (Bánh Bao)uuu

Life's Simple Ingredient - Vietnamese Steamed Pork Buns - Banh bao Recipe - Edmonton - Wheat
Share my post: How to make Vietnamese Steamed Pork Buns (Banh Bao)

I wanted to share my recipe (/with guidance from my mom) for savoury Vietnamese Steamed Pork Buns (Bánh bao)! These are delicious and very filling buns that make for a great little treat to start, power through or end your day.

The translation of Bánh bao is literally like a “treat bag” or a “wrapped treat”. In Vietnamese, bánh can be used to refer to any sort of treat (usually a dessert, but in this case a savoury treat) while “bao” is like a bag or wrapping, like a wrapped treat.

The typical filling is ground pork and vegetables, though there are “banh bao chay” (vegetarian) versions and I’ve always wanted to try it with other ground meats to see the difference.

You can make bánh bao one of two ways—by using a bánh bao flour package (readily available at an Asian grocery store of your choice. I get it from Lucky 97 in Edmonton’s Chinatown), or by making the dough from scratch.

Both versions use Life’s Simple Ingredient (wheat flour).

And I’ve made delicious baos using both methods (same filling either way).

Below is my recipe so you can make these too! cPlease excuse some of my imprecise filling ingredient amounts! I tend to be “a little of this, a little of that” cook, which doesn’t always work for baking, but I find as long as your dough measurements are precise, the filling can be more of a mishmash.

Also caveat: I am NOT a professional baker. I just like to make and eat food and I’m sharing a thing I like to make and eat, lol. I hope you enjoy these buns as much as I do!!

Vietnamese Steamed Pork Buns (Bánh Bao)

Life's Simple Ingredient - Vietnamese Steamed Pork Buns - Banh bao Recipe - Edmonton - Wheat
Got my ingredients for Banh Bao ready!
Filling Ingredients
  • Half a carrot
  • A handful of woodear mushrooms
  • Half a white onion
  • A stalk of green onion
  • About 1 lb of ground pork
  • A few squirts of oyster sauce
  • A bit of sugar (like a sprinkle)
  • Minced garlic or garlic powder (I am not noting the amount of garlic because for garlic lovers one clove is never enough lol.)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 Chinese sausages (my favourite brand is Kem Yen Jan)
  • 12 quail eggs hard boiled and peeled, or you can get it pre-hard boiled/peeled in a can
Life's Simple Ingredient - Vietnamese Steamed Pork Buns - Banh bao Recipe - Edmonton - Wheat
Pre-cook your filling balls!
It's a sizeable meatball filling lol
Filling Instructions
  • Soak mushrooms for a bit in warm water. This will let them expand.
  • Dice onions, carrot, mushrooms, sausage and quail eggs. Some people leave the quail eggs whole and form the filling mix around the egg so it’s in the centre of the filling ball but I prefer it just mixed in with all the filling. Also I tend to not cut small enough (lazy cook lol) but the smaller your filling pieces the easier it is to form the filling shape later.
  • Mix all filling ingredients together.
  • Form into meatball-like balls. These are fairly large-sized balls (see photos)
  • Place into a steamer on parchment paper. (I have bamboo steamers I place on a pan that I fill with a few cups of water).
  • Pre-cook the filling balls for about 5 mins so it doesn’t make your buns moist later, and so you know your filling is cooked!
  • Set aside to be added to the buns.
Life's Simple Ingredient - Vietnamese Steamed Pork Buns - Banh bao Recipe - Edmonton - Wheat
Some folds are better, some folds are worse, than others lol.
Bun Ingredients

If you make it with bánh bao mix, you just need the bag, then follow the additional instructions for ingredients on the package. Mine in particular (and likely yours) will call for an additional 1 cup milk, ½ cup sugar, and 1 tablespoon of oil (I used canola), and a splash of white vinegar for the steaming water.

If you make the dough from scratch, you’ll need:

  • 3 cups of flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon of instant yeast
  • 2 tablespoons of oil (canola, vegetable, olive, whichever)
  • 1 cup of milk
  • ½ cup of sugar
  • A splash of white vinegar for the steaming water
Life's Simple Ingredient - Vietnamese Steamed Pork Buns - Banh bao Recipe - Edmonton - Wheat
Not an expert folder but not bad.
Life's Simple Ingredient - Vietnamese Steamed Pork Buns - Banh bao Recipe - Edmonton - Wheat
Vietnamese Steamed Pork Buns turned out great!
Bun Instructions (if making using Bánh bao mix)
  • Follow the package instructions! But it’s pretty similar to doing it from scratch honestly.
Bun Instructions (if making from scratch)

Making the Dough

  • In a bowl, warm up milk in the microwave (should be warm but not hot). Add sugar to milk and mix to dissolve. Add instant yeast and mix a bit then let rest, covered for 10 minutes (yeast should look kind of frothy).
  • In another bowl (if you have a stand mixer, your stand mixer bowl!), mix flour, baking powder, salt, then slowly add the milk/sugar/yeast, followed by the oil. Mix and knead the dough until it doesn’t stick to the sides of the bowl but it isn’t too dry. If you try to pull the dough apart it shouldn’t tear or be crumbly. If it’s crumbly at this point you’ve overworked the dough and should probably start over lol.
  • Cover the dough and let rest for 1 hour or until the dough has visibly doubled in size.
Life's Simple Ingredient - Vietnamese Steamed Pork Buns - Banh bao Recipe - Edmonton - Wheat
A look inside my Banh Bao.
Life's Simple Ingredient - Vietnamese Steamed Pork Buns - Banh bao Recipe - Edmonton - Wheat
A version of the buns with the egg as a whole!

Assembling the Buns

  • On a floured surface, divide the dough into 12 pieces.
  • Roll out the dough into a flat circle and ensure there’s enough room to place the filling ball in the middle of the rolled out dough. There should be enough dough all around the ball so when you lift it up to fold, the dough is taller than the ball.
  • Fold! I am not a folding expert, it’s something I need to work on lol but you’re trying to essentially fold pleats and be able to pinch / twist the top of the dough so the filling is fully covered. If you want to watch different folding techniques, check out YouTube.
  • Place buns on individually cut parchment paper or on cupcake/muffin liners, then place in a steamer. Give them room, so depending on the size of the steamer, you may only have three buns in one.
  • Be sure to add a splash of white vinegar to the steaming water. This helps give the buns a lighter/whiter appearance.
  • Steam for about 15 minutes.

AND ENJOY!! 

Life's Simple Ingredient - Vietnamese Steamed Pork Buns - Banh bao Recipe - Edmonton - Wheat
Dig into your Banh Bao!

Eat immediately, warm. Or you can fridge them for a few days (reheat before eating).

Or you can freeze them too!

If you don’t have some of the filling ingredients, it’s totally fine, for instance some people only use one type of onion, or no onions, or no carrots. I forgot the green onions in the version I did for the photos in this post. The pork, sausage, mushrooms and eggs are perhaps most crucial for the filling. My mom sometimes is lazy and doesn’t bother with the egg lol. I hope you enjoy your bánh bao and if you do make it, let me know!

Whatever you end up baking, don’t forget to enter Life’s Simple Ingredient contest for a chance to win a stand mixer and Canadian wheat flour!

Thanks to Life’s Simple Ingredient for putting on the contest and for this tasty partnership.

Linda

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Disclaimer: This post was written as part of a sponsored partnership with Life’s Simple Ingredient to raise awareness about their baking contest and encourage more baking! This has no impact on opinions stated in this post. I love baking, cooking, AND eating, and also making the food of my people lol.

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