Pan-fried Pork Buns is known as Sheng Jian Bao in Chinese, meaning pan-fried directly without steaming. This is a very popular Chinese street snack across the whole county. However Shanghai style might be the most famous version. If you love Chinese dumplings, check Xiao Long Bao too. There are actually several versions popular in China and the differences mainly in the wrapper. Traditional version has a more fluffy texture and thicker wrapper. A new popular version with thinner, chewier wrapper is achieved by the hot boiling water dough (烫面).
The wrapper dough for shengjian is semi-fermentation dough, similar to the bread of Roujiamo (肉夹馍). So it is quite quick to make comparing with traditional steamed buns.
- Knead the dough for a long time until very smooth, so the smooth of the buns can be smooth too.
- Let the assembled dough rest in room temperature for at least 15 minutes before pan-frying.
- Use slow fire when frying the buns in the initial time, then slightly turn up the fire after adding the water. After 3-4 minutes of simmering, slow the fire again. The bottom can be overcooked very easily, so be carefully and move the pan for a more even fire.
- Watch out when eating as the filling can be extremely hot.
To make the filling
Add hot water to ginger, scallion and Sichuan peppercorn to make the ginger scallion water.
Add the pork, salt, ground pepper, sugar, soy sauce, cooking wine and oyster sauce in. Blend for 2-3 minutes with stopping. Then add ginger and scallion water by 2 batches. Blend until the water is completely absorbed.
Transfer the filling out, mix with 1 tablespoon of sesame oil. Then chop the pork jelly and mix well.
To make the wrapper:
Melt sugar and yeast in water. Stir to flour and combine well. Add pinch of salt and vegetable cooking oil. Use one hand to push the dough and then pull back, change another hand to repeat the process. Use the two hands alternately. You should use the strength of the whole body and knead the dough forcefully. After 5-8 minutes of kneading, the dough should be quite smooth and shinning in appearance.
Cover the dough and rest for 15 minutes until slightly softened. Cut the dough into halves. Wrap and transfer the other half in fridge. And re-knead one half for 2-3 minutes. Shape the dough into a long log and then cut into 12 equal portions. Roll each of the portion to large wrappers and then assemble well. Make sure the buns is completely sealed. After assembling, let the buns rest for another 15 minutes.
Add around 2 tablespoon of oil in a non-sticky pan, and place the buns in. Start frying with very slow fire (the bottom can be burnt very quickly) and move your pan from time to time. After 1 or 2 minutes, the bottom will be hardened and brown. Commonly, the pleated is downside to get the crispy bottom, but I recommend trying with pleated side upside since the juice may come out during the pan-frying process is the bun is not well wrapped.
Pour in hot water (around ½ cup) and cover the lid and simmer for 6 minutes with slow fire. Sprinkle black sesame and green onion in the last minute.
Transfer out and enjoy, be carefully with the running filling. It can be extremely hot. Look at the juicy filling. Watch your tongue.
Pan-Fried Pork Buns-Sheng Jian Bao Recipe
For the dough
- 300 g all-purpose flour
- 155 ml water room temperature
- 2 tsp. instant yeast
- 1 tbsp. sugar
- ¼ tsp. salt
- 250 g pork with 20% fat
- 200 g pork jelly or beef jelly or chicken jelly
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. sugar
- ½ tsp. ground pepper
- 1 tbsp. Chinese cooking wine
- 1.5 tbsp. light soy sauce
- 1 tsp. dark soy sauce , optional
- 1.5 tbsp. oyster sauce
- 1 tbsp. sesame oil
Scallion and ginger water
- 1 tbsp. chopped ginger
- 1 tbsp. chopped scallion
- 1 tsp. Sichuan peppercorn seeds
- ½ cup hot boiling water
- 1 tbsp. oil
- Roasted black sesame seeds for garnish
- Green onion for garnish
For the dough
- In a large mixing bowl, mix yeast with flour. Stir in warm water. Combine all the ingredients and then knead into smooth dough. Cover and rest for 15 minutes.
- Cover the dough and rest for 15 minutes until slightly softened. Cut the dough into halves. Wrap and transfer the other half in fridge. And re-knead one half for 2-3 minutes. Shape the dough into a long log and then cut into 12 equal portions. Roll each of the portion to large wrappers and then assemble well. After assembling, let the buns rest for another 15 minutes.
For the filling
- Add hot water to ginger, scallion and Sichuan peppercorn to make the ginger scallion water.
- Add the pork, salt, ground pepper, sugar, soy sauce, cooking wine and oyster sauce in. Blend for 2-3 minutes with stopping. Then add ginger and scallion water by 2 batches. Blend until the water is completely absorbed. Transfer the filling out, mix with 1 tablespoon of sesame oil. Then chop the pork jelly and mix well.
Assemble and Frying
- Assemble the buns according to this direction one by one. Brush some oil on your pan firstly and transfer the assembled buns to the pan. Do leave some space between each one. Cover with lid or a wet cloth and rest the buns for around 15 minutes.
- Fry for around 2 minutes until the bottom is crispy; pour starch water and cover the lid to cook for around 5-6 minutes until the water are completely evaporated so that the buns will be cooked thoroughly. Sprinkle roasted black sesame seeds and green onions.
- Use a thin slicer to remove the buns from pan to serving bowl. Serve directly or with dip sauce if you prefer.
If you add some starch in the hot water, it gives a lovely flour shape at the bottom.
These look delicious, Elaine! Pinned. Love your photography! 🙂
Thanks Julia. Happy cooking ahead.
Lokness @ The Missing Lokness
WOW! These look just like the ones in restaurants! So perfect! I bet they are crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. Can't wait to make these one day!
Thanks Lokness. Homemade version is my favorite because of the customized taste. Try it yourself.
This is one of my favorite Chinese dishes, and your sheng jian bao look so crispy I can just imagine the crunch in my mouth on eating the bottoms. There is a restaurant about 30 minutes from my apartment that specializes in these, and sometimes I'll drive all the way there just to have some! Thanks for sharing this recipe. I'll be trying these out for sure - Pinned!
Go ahead and try it Sarah. I hope it turns out perfect on your side too.
I'm also addicted to dough but I always fail steaming buns... Yet to try your recipe.. Still recovering from my continuous steam buns failure...
I failed many times too when starting playing with dough because I am living in western China where people do not like flour but rice. That's Ok. You can make perfect steamed buns at home.
Thank you:) will update you once I gather my courage and steam one again...
Great Mae and good luck!
Hai Elaine,if I don't want to fried this,can I steam?
Sure Sari. If you plan to steam them, set them aside for a second proof around 10-15 minutes before steaming.
So excited! Most bao doughs call for milk and I've not tried them as I'm allergic. Eventually would have gotten around to making with soy milk sub, but now I don't have to!
Milk is not must for Chinese steamed bun down. Traditionally we use only flour,water and yeast and salt.
These look delicious! Can ground turkey or beef be used instead of pork?
Sure, Robin. You can adjust your own filling for sure.
I have some family coming over in three days. Could I freeze the uncooked bao and pan-fry them later? How much different is the cooking time between fresh and frozen bao?
You can pre-assemble the buns and freeze. But you need to set the buns aside for 20 minutes in summer before freezing so the second proof can be finished. Rest in room temperature until slightly soften back before frying.
This is such a great recipe! Can I assemble the baos and then refrigerate them overnight and cook them the next day?
Thanks for all the great recipes!
I hope I can refrigerate them too, but no. It is not a good choice. After long time refrigerating, the buns get quite large and over-fermented.
Wonderful filling!! So juicy and delicious, thank you for this recipe!
Thanks so much for the feedback.