Vietnamese Bahn Bao (Steamed Pork Buns)

Today I am giving you quarantine realness. Kim and I decided to make Bahn Bao now that our area is in phase 2 – so I frantically took some pictures. They are not very artful and I am not dressed up but it was so much fun I still had to share with you all.

Leiha and Kim used to make these when Leiha was my roomie back in the day, but since Leiha is now in England, I either have to pay $5.00 each at the Vietnamese shop or make them myself. I figured with Kim’s experience and Leiha on speed dial we could make this work. Turns out they are not hard to make, they just have a lot of steps and are time consuming. This makes them perfect for those long quarantine days we have been experiencing. 

Step one: is to make sure you have a few necessary items that you might not have in your kitchen to start.

And wax or parchment paper. 

You can find both the dough mix and steaming baskets at your local Vietnamese store, or if you don’t have one close to you most any asian store should do. I just showed the shopkeeper a photo of the dough and they took me right to the area. Each package makes 12 buns – we made three packages and wish we had more (but we always wish we had more because they are so tasty). 

We use a wok to put the steamer baskets in, so if you don’t have a wok make sure you have something the steamers will fit in for cooking. 

You don’t need to use this type of fish sauce, any brand will do, this is just what we had in the kitchen.

Step two: get the fillings ready. This is listed on the back of the dough mix if you forget.

We planned ahead so Kim brought the boiled and quartered eggs and the chinese sausages. The sausages are prepared by slicing into rounds and then traditionally used raw. We find the texture is better if fried, so that is what we do. 

I mixed up one pound of ground pork, again this is listed on the back of the dough package, with a clove of garlic, 2 Tbsp of Nuoc Mam – fish sauce (the recipe calls for clam juice but why go buy clam juice when we have fish sauce), a pinch of sugar, a bit of black pepper and a medium onion diced. Once mixed, I used an ice cream scoop to make 12 equal balls of pork. Also it calls for Accent (MSG) but we leave this out. 

I can not stress this enough. Having all of the fillings ready and pre-measured makes this process so much simpler. If you don’t measure out the sausage early you can end up with uneven amounts of meat in each bun. 

Step 3: Prepare the dough. Honestly it doesn’t matter if you do step three first and let the dough sit while you prepare the fillings. Because we were making multiple batches it worked best for us to have the filling items done first. That way I could make additional dough batches while while Kim assembled the Bahn Bao. There are directions on mixing the dough on the back of the package. I took out 2 Tbsp of dough and sat it aside then mixed in the milk, vegetable oil and sugar by hand for 10 minutes  The package does not say what to do with the reserved dough mix so when the dough got so gloopy it was sticking to my hands I added half the mix, and then added the other half a bit later. Worked well for me so that is what I recommend for you.

After hand mixing for 10 min let it sit for 15 minutes, then put some regular flower on the counter and knead for 5 more minutes. When the time is up you roll the dough into a 14 inch long tube and cut into 12 even pieces. Roll these pieces into balls.  

FINALLY you are ready to assemble the buns. Roll out a ball of dough into a circle that is approximately 4.5 inches across, add a ball of pork, a quarter of hard boiled egg, and a few pieces of Chinese sausage. Pull the edges towards the top of the bun and squish (that is a technical term) together until the bun is completely sealed and put on a 3” x 3” (ish) square of wax paper. Once complete, place in the steaming baskets, I put 6 per basket and regretted it because they puff up when they cook. I say 5 would be the best number for my size of steamer.

Once the steamers are full, fill up the bottom of the wok with water and bring to a boil. Place the steamers on top of the boiling water for 20 minutes. If you are using two or more steam baskets rotate them half way through, I found changing up the order of the baskets also helps me make sure the wok does not boil dry. 

Now your only job is to enjoy these delicious buns! I didn’t take any glorious pictures of the finished product so instead you get pictures of us enjoying the finished product. This is a fun project to do with friends and family and despite all the steps is a fairly foolproof recipe. 

The after photo – Thank you to our photographer Brayden. Left to right Me (Nancy), Larry, Kimberly, and Lily.

4 thoughts on “Vietnamese Bahn Bao (Steamed Pork Buns)

  • July 14, 2020 at 1:05 pm

    That looks so delicious! Thank you for sharing this. And I can’t wait to try it!

    • July 14, 2020 at 1:19 pm

      I am here if you have questions Brenda. They are so yummy – You wont be sorry if you try.

  • July 14, 2020 at 9:13 pm

    You guys did an awesome job. I noticed that you didn’t point out it was my idea to pre-portion everything. It makes a world of difference.

    Banh Bao is one of those things that never taste as good in a restaurant or store (unless you’re in Vietnam) as it does homemade. I highly recommend trying homemade, it’s worth it. The last time I made it, the Brit ate 5 in one day.

    Nancy’s dad and brother also love banh bao so when Kim and I made it, we had to make sure we made enough for all of our families. The tradition continues. <3

  • July 14, 2020 at 9:47 pm

    Damn you, Woman! I am trying to get rid of my quarantine weight! These look soooooo good, so I have to make them. Well, done!!


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