Easy Dim Sum

The term ‘dim sum’ refers to a vast array of bite-sized dishes typically eaten over a long brunch and served with tea. Whether savoury or sweet.

Steamed Chinese BBQ Pork Buns

Makes 10 Dim Sum


For the Chinese BBQ Pork

  • 3 pounds pork shoulder/pork butt (Select a cut with some good fat on it)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon five spice powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 tablespoon sherry
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • ½ teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons hoisin sauce
  • 2 teaspoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons molasses
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 tablespoon hot water

For the dough

  • 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • ¾ cup warm water
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 5 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

For the filling

  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1 each red and green bullet chili, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons dark soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 1/2 cups diced Chinese BBQ pork 


For the Chinese BBQ pork:

  • Cut the pork into long strips about 3 inches thick. Don’t trim any excess fat as it will render off and also give you more good flavor. Combine the rest of the ingredients in a bowl to make the BBQ sauce. Reserve about 2 tablespoons and pour the rest into a large zip top bag along with the pork. Make sure the pork is coated with the sauce, squeeze the air out of the bag, and seal it. Marinate in the refrigerator overnight. Store the reserved sauce for later as well.
  • In my parent’s restaurant, we had a large standing roasting oven the size of a narrow refrigerator, where the pork could hang from these large S-shaped hooks and roast evenly at very high temperatures. To simulate this at home, preheat your oven to the highest setting (at least 475 degrees). Then line a sheet pan with foil and place a metal rack on top.
  • Using the metal rack keeps the pork off of the pan and allows it to roast more evenly, like it does in commercial ovens described above. Place the pork on the racks, leaving as much space as possible between pieces, and put the pan in the upper portion of the oven. Pour the rest of the marinade from the bag into a bowl for basting.
  • After 25 minutes or so, flip the pork and baste with some of the marinating liquid. If needed, add a half cup of water to the bottom of the sheet pan to prevent burning or smoking from the drippings. If you have a leaner cut of meat, you may want to add some water at the beginning of the roasting process, baste more often and/or lower the oven temperature to 425 degrees(updated May 5, 2014 from reader feedback). After another 25-30 minutes, turn on the broiler to crisp the outside and add some color/flavor. Be sure not to walk away during this process, since the sweet BBQ sauce can burn if left unattended. Take out of the oven and use a clean basting brush to brush the roasted pork with those last couple tablespoons of reserved BBQ sauce.

Let the meat rest for 10 minutes.

For the dough

  • In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment (you can also just use a regular mixing bowl and knead by hand), dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Sift together the flour and cornstarch, and add it to the yeast mixture along with the sugar and oil. Turn on the mixer to the lowest setting and let it go until a smooth dough ball is formed. Cover with a damp cloth and let it rest for 2 hours. (I haven’t forgotten about the baking powder. You’ll add that later!)
  • After your dough has rested for 2 hours, add the baking powder to the dough and turn the mixer on to the lowest setting. At this point, if the dough looks dry or you’re having trouble incorporating the baking powder, add 1-2 teaspoons water. Gently knead the dough until it becomes smooth again. Cover with a damp cloth and let it rest for another 15 minutes. In the meantime, get a large piece of parchment paper and cut it into ten 4×4 inch squares. You can also use paper cupcake liners, flattened out. Prepare your steamer by bringing the water to a boil.

For the filling

  • Heat the oil in a wok over medium high heat. Add the onion and stir-fry for a minute. Turn heat down to medium-low, and add the sugar, soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, and dark soy. Stir and cook until the mixture starts to bubble up. Add the chicken stock and flour, cooking for a couple minutes until thickened. Remove from the heat and stir in the roast pork. Set aside to cool. If you make the filling ahead of time, cover and refrigerate to prevent it from drying out.

Assembling the buns

  • Roll the dough into a long tube and divide it into 10 equal pieces. Press each piece of dough into a disc about 4 1/2 inches in diameter (it should be thicker in the center and thinner around the edges).
  • Add some filling and pleat the buns until they’re closed on the top.
  • Place each bun on a parchment paper square, and steam. I steamed the buns in two separate batches using a bamboo steamer (be sure the boiling water does not touch the buns during steaming process).
  • Once the water boils, place the buns in the steamer and steam each batch for 12 minutes over high heat.

Serve hot with dark soy sauce or sweet chili sauce


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