Showing posts with label Bapao (Steamed Meat Buns). Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bapao (Steamed Meat Buns). Show all posts


Bapao, or ba pao, is a steamed bun with a savory or sweet filling. Originally from China, it made its way into the Dutch kitchen via the cuisine of Indonesia, a former colony of the Netherlands. The savory filling is traditionally made with ground beef and is flavored with Chinese five spice powder (fennel, anise, ginger, cinnamon and cloves) and sweet soy sauce.

The bun is best enjoyed warm, with a sweet chili dipping sauce. You can buy these Indonesian gems in snackbars, at the grocery store or at the city markets. Look for a small white trailer that sells Vietnamese loempias, i.e. egg rolls, and you're bound to find they also sell ba pao. The fillings can be beef, chicken or vegetarian (usually some sort of tofu mixture).

It's an easy snack to make and once steamed, cooled and properly wrapped, it will hold for several weeks in the freezer. All you need to do is pop it in the microwave for a couple of minutes (wrapped ofcourse!) and your snack is ready! Because of the sweet dough and the savory filling, it is a favorite with both kids and adults.

1 lb of ground beef
1 green onion
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon of five spice powder*
2 tablespoons of sweet soy sauce**
1 teaspoon of salt

For the dough
4 cups of self-rising flour
1 1/2 cup of milk
1/2 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon of salt

Parchment paper
Tea towel

Cut the parchment paper into 3x3 inch squares. Brown the beef in a skillet and pour off some of the fat, if there is a lot. Mince the white part and 2/3s of the green of the green onion and stir, together with the minced garlic, into the meat. Sauté until the garlic is translucent, then stir in the spices and the soy sauce. Taste and adjust salt if needed.

Put the steamer on the stove and bring the water to a boil. Tie a tea towel around the lid to avoid any water dripping from the lid onto the dough.

Knead a dough with the flour, the milk, the sugar and the salt, and cut into 2.5oz pieces. Flatten each ball into a circle, not too thin, and add a heaping tablespoon of the meat mixture in the middle. Wrap the dough around it, pinch it shut and place the bapao, seam side down, onto a square of parchment paper.

When they are all done, lift the lid on the steamer, place the bapao on the perforated pan. Leave plenty of space between buns as they will rise and expand considerably. Replace the lid and steam the bapao for about fifteen minutes. Carefully lift the lid and keep it straight as tilting it may cause condensation to drip on the buns. This will ruin the fluffy dough, so be careful!

Remove the buns carefully, let them cool a little and enjoy them with a sweet chili sauce dipping. Makes approximately 10-12 bapao.

I was rather conservative with the filling,
but you may want to fill this puppy up,
the dough will hold it!

* Five Spice Powder is easily found in regular grocery stores, in the Asian food section. If you cannot find it, try this recipe.

** The Indonesian sweet soy sauce is called Ketjap Manis. Not easy to come by in the United States but if you replace it with regular soy sauce, add a 2 teaspoons of sugar to the meat and carefully adjust the salt, as regular soy sauce is rather salty.