Dim Sum



Ok so this isn’t strictly baking, it’s steaming but I feel a break from all that sweetness was needed and what better way than with a plate full of soft, fresh dim sum to plant your face into.

Today there are not one, not two, but three recipes for dim sum. The first is my take on char siu bao. Traditionally, these steamed, yeasted buns are filled with pork in a sweet sticky marinade but roast chicken is what I had left over and it works beautifully.

You could also bake these buns. After stage 24, egg wash the rolls and place in a preheated oven at 200C for 15 minutes but you don’t quite get the same chewy, succulent texture.

BBQ Chicken Bao (Makes 16)

For the dough:

  • 1 ½ teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 cup lukewarm water (just warm to the touch)
  • 2 Tablespoons peanut oil
  • 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 ½ cups plain flour
  • For the filling:
  • 1 Tablespoon peanut oil
  • 1 spring onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 cups cooked shredded chicken (approx ½ of a whole pre-roasted chicken)
  • 1 ½ Tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon oyster sauce
  • ¼ teaspoon sesame oil
  • ½ teaspoon garlic chilli paste (sambal olek)
  • 1 Tablespoon cornflour
  • 2 Tablespoons room temperature water


  1. The dough: Put the yeast in a small bowl, add the water and set aside for 1 minute to proof.
  2. Whisk in the oil to blend and dissolve the yeast. Set aside.
  3. Make the dough: Combine the sugar, baking powder and flour in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and pour in the yeast mixture. Slowly stir with a wooden spoon, moving from the centre toward the rim, to work in all the flour. (Add lukewarm water by the teaspoon if this doesn’t happen with relative ease.)  Keep stirring as a ragged, soft mass forms. Then use your fingers to gather and pat the dough together into a ball. Transfer to a work surface and knead for about 5 minutes, until smooth, fingertip-soft and slightly elastic. (You shouldn’t need any additional flour on the work surface if the dough was properly made. Keep kneading, and after the first minute or two, the dough shouldn’t stick to your fingers. If it does, work in a sprinkling of flour.) Press your finger into the dough; the dough should spring back, with a faint indentation remaining.
  4. Let rise: Lightly oil a clean bowl and add the dough.
  5. Cover with plastic wrap and put in a warm, draft-free place to rise until nearly doubled, 30-45 minutes (timing will vary depending on the temperature of the room). The dough is now ready to use.
  6. If not using immediately, cover and refrigerate the dough until needed.
  7. The filling: heat 1 Tablespoon of oil in a wok or skillet over high heat until smoking hot.
  8. Dissolve the cornstarch in the 2 Tablespoons of water and set aside until needed.
  9. Stir-fry the scallion and the garlic for 30 seconds.
  10. Add the shredded chicken and stir-fry for 1 minute.
  11. Add hoisin sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil and chilli paste.  Mix until thoroughly combined.
  12. Add the cornstarch mixture and stir-fry quickly until the chicken is glazed.
  13. Turn the filling out into a bowl and allow to cool. Note: filling can be made up to 1 day ahead, keep refrigerated.
  14. Assemble: Transfer the dough to a very lightly floured work surface, gather it into a ball and then pat it to flatten it into a thick disk.
  15. Cut the disk in half and keep the second half covered to prevent it from drying out.
  16. Roll the first half into a 12” log and then cut it crosswise into 8 even pieces.
  17. Flatten one piece of dough into a ¼” thick disk, moistening your hands with a little water if the dough becomes too dry.
  18. Use an Asian dumpling pin (or regular rolling pin) roll the pieces into circles about 3 ¼” in diameter, rolling the outer edges thinner than the centre.
  19. To assemble the buns:  hold a dough circle in a slightly cupped hand.
  20. Use a spoon or fork to centre about 4 teaspoons of filling on the dough circle, pressing down very gently and keeping about ½”- ¾” of the dough clear on all sides; your hand will automatically close slightly.
  21. Use the thumb of the hand cradling the bun to push down the filling; using the fingers of the other hand, pull up the dough edge and pleat and pinch the rim together to form a closed bun.
  22. Completely enclose the filling by pinching and twisting the dough closed.
  23. Place the finished bun on a piece of parchment, pleated side up. (The parchment is important otherwise the buns will stick to the steamer.)
  24. Repeat with the remaining dough and loosely cover the assembled buns with a kitchen towel until puffed and nearly doubled in size, 10-30 minutes, depending on the temperature in the room.
  25. Steaming: When the buns are almost ready, bring water to boil in a wok and placing a steamer basket on top.
  26. Place buns in the steamer basket, spacing them 1” apart and 1” away from the basket wall.
  27. Cover the buns and steam until puffed and the dough is cooked through, about 15 minutes.
  28. Transfer the buns, still on their parchment paper squares, to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes. Repeat steaming until all the buns are cooked.
  29. Serve warm or room temperature with a sauce made from soy sauce and a bit of garlic chilli paste (sambal olek).
  30. Make ahead: Can be made up to 6 hours in advance – shape and fill the buns then keep refrigerated to slow the rising process.  Steam directly from the refrigerator.
  31. To freeze: May be frozen up to 2 months. Prepare the buns fully and after steaming allow to come to room temperature then place on a parchment lined sheet pan and freeze until solid.  Place frozen buns in a Ziploc for longer storage.  Allow to thaw at room temperature for 15 minutes then re-steam 12-15 minutes to warm through.

IMG_20140801_215536[1] Siu Mai

As promised, the second recipe; an open topped dumpling with a pork and prawn filling.

As you can tell from the picture, I love broccoli. This is not a traditional accompaniment but it tastes so good.

Siu Mai (Serves 6)


  • Wanton wrappers
  • 4 oz raw prawns, shelled and deveined, chopped
  • 8 oz minced pork
  • 5 oz canned water chestnut, chopped finely (about 10 water chestnuts)
  • 3 tablespoon spring onions, white part, minced
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • 3 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 4 tablespoon Chinese rice wine or pale dry sherry
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoon cornflour
  • ½ teaspoon caster sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1 large thick carrot, cut into thin rounds

Preparing the filling:

  1. Mix all the ingredients together.
  2. Place the wrapper in your palm. Place 1 teaspoon of filling into wrapper.
  3. Gather up the edges of the wrapper.  Hold the dumpling between your thumb and your fingers, lightly squeezing it to form a cup.  Squeeze with your index finger to form a waist.  Use a spatula or your thumb to push the filling down.
  4. Flatten the base by tapping on a floured surface. Smooth the top with a knife dipped with water.
  5. Place in a steamer, setting each dumpling on a slice of carrot rounds.
  6. Steam over simmering water for 15 minutes. Add water if necessary so that wok is not dried out.

Again, these freeze very well. Put them in the freezer on a baking tray lined with grease proof paper. Once frozen, transfer to a freezer bag. To serve, steam from frozen for 15-20 minutes.

IMG_20140802_095828[1]   Lo Mai Gai/ Steamed Glutinous Rice Parcels

And finally, a very filling but exceptionally yummy bundle. Traditionally flavoured with everything from salted egg yolks and dried shrimps to Chinese sausage, my version uses chicken and mushroom and a handful of peanuts for a bit of texture variation.

Ingredients :

  • 150g sliced chestnut mushrooms
  • 8-10 dried shitake mushrooms, soaked in boiling water for 30 minutes then chopped
  • 800g Brown chicken meat cut into small chunks
  • 2 cups glutinous rice, soaked for 3 hours
  • Lotus leaves soaked in hot water for 1 hour
  • Handful of raw redskin peanuts (optional)

Seasoning for chicken:

  • 3 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice wine/shaoxing wine
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger and juice
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp white pepper
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil

Seasoning for glutinous rice:

  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp Chinese five spice
  • 2 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tsp dark soy sauce
  • 2 tsp light soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp white pepper
  • 3 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1 tsp sesame oil


  1. In a medium bowl, stir together the marinade ingredients and add the chicken pieces. Stir well and refrigerate. Soak the sticky rice for 3 hours, drain and steam for 40 minutes until cooked. Stir in the seasoning mixture and set aside.
  2. Over high heat, add 2 tablespoons oil to your wok. When the wok is smoking slightly, add the mushrooms and stir-fry until they’re browned, tender, and most of the moisture has evaporated. Remove from the wok and set aside.
  3. Brown the chicken in the same wok. Stir-fry for a couple minutes to let the flavours meld together.
  4. Mix this chicken mixture with the steamed rice. Add the rice seasoning and incorporate everything well. Now you’re ready to wrap them in the lotus leaves. Brush a small section on one end of each leaf lightly with oil. Put about ¾ cup of the mixture on the oiled area. Wrap each into a rectangle, tie with kitchen string, and steam for about 25-30 minutes.
  5. You can serve immediately or allow them to cool, place into freezer bags, and freeze for later! When you’re ready to eat them, just steam them right out of the freezer for about 20-30 minutes.

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