siew bao


Excess char siew filling led to this glorious treat.

I’ve never attempted making flaky pastry skin before. The instructions for making these were fairly simple but the work involved is anything but. I spent almost a day making 24 siew bao.

The reason was, I under-estimated the amount of pastry I would need to use up the char siew filling. So I made this pastry twice in a day. It was really good.

Another problem I met was the oil dough. I visited a few blogs and each one said to knead until it formed a dough. No dough formed for me. I was using Crisco vegetable shortening but I don’t think that is the cause. It is more like a floury sticky paste than a dough. Hence that caused some confusion on my part as I wondered if I had measured the ingredients wrongly. Still, if you do visit some other blogs to see the step-by-step pictures, the oil dough does look like a dough and not a paste. Weird. Maybe I will try using other brand of shortening.

Siew Bao (dough from Nasi Lemak Lover)


  • 200 grams char siew, cubed
  • 1/2 tbsp Lee Kum Kee char siew sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp Lee Kum Kee hoisin sauce
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 1 garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp corn flour
  • 5 tbsp water
  1. In a small bowl, mix char siew sauce, hoisin sauce, corn flour and water together.
  2. In a non-stick saucepan, fry shallots and garlic until fragrant.
  3. Add in sauce and cook over a low flame until sauce thickens and coats the back of the spoon.
  4. Pour sauce over the char siew. Stir well to combine. Leave to cool.

Water Dough

  • 200 grams plain flour
  • 60 grams unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 grams salt
  • 2 tbsp castor sugar
  • 60-70 grams water
  1. Mix flour, salt and sugar in a bowl.
  2. Knead in butter until it resembles breadcrumbs.
  3. Slowly add in water until a dough is formed.
  4. Divide dough evenly into 20 portions.
  5. Place in fridge to chill for 10 minutes.

Oil Dough

  • 160 grams plain flour
  • 100 grams shortening
  1. Rub shortening into the flour lightly, until a rough paste is formed.
  2. Divide evenly into 20 portions.
  3. Place in fridge to chill for 10 minutes.

Egg wash

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1-2 tsp milk/water

1 tbsp lightly toasted white sesame seeds


  1. Flatten water dough. Lightly roll into a circle. Place 1 ball of oil dough in the center of the rolled out water dough. Gather the edges and seal tightly.
  2. Flatten out the dough from step 1. Roll into an oblong shape, about 15 cm long.
  3. Roll the dough inwards, in a swiss roll style.
  4. Turn the dough 90 degrees. Repeat steps 2 to 3.
  5. Flatten the dough and roll out into a circle. Fill with char siew filling, pleat and seal the edges well. Do not over-fill and do not let any sauce touch the edges of the skin.
  6. Place on a parchment lined baking tray. Brush on egg wash and bake at 200 C for 15 minutes.
  7. After 15 minutes, remove from oven. Brush on egg wash again and sprinkle sesame seeds on each siew bao. Bake for another 10-15 minutes until golden brown.
  8. Serve warm.


For step by step pictures of how to roll the dough, please go to the link above.

This is a type of snack that is best eaten warm. When warm the flaky layers and the melt-in-the-mouth texture is fantastic. As the bao cools to normal temperature, some of the flakiness is gone.

No problem there though. Just reheat the baos in the oven toaster for 3 minutes or so and they will be as delicious as before.


Oh, if you should have excess bao skin and not enough filling, just add in your favorite spread as filling. I made some kaya puffs. 🙂



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