Pan Fried Pork and Cabbage Bao Tze (Shen jian bao)

I've been following David Chang on Instagram and the food photos are making me wish I could print them out and eat them.  February was dumpling month at Lucky Peach and the photos have inspired me to get back to making some boa tze.  When it comes to dumplings, buns, boa tze, I believe my fillings are excellent, it's the wrapping where I need some help.  Having had xiao long bao excellence at Din Tai Fung, I marvel at how beautifully each one is hand wrapped.  It's a combination of the perfect dough and the skilled hands.  Practice is the only way to improve.  Here's another session in a line of many that have passed and the many that are still to come.

For the wrapper dough:

1 cup warm water
3 tablespoons sugar
1 ½ teaspoons active dry yeast
3 ¼ cup medium gluten flour (all purpose flour)
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons pork or duck fat, melted

Dissolve the sugar in the water, then add yeast.  Stir to combine and let sit a few minutes until it becomes frothy.

Combine flour, baking powder and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer.  Whisk together to combine.  

Use the hook attachment set on low speed, add the water and fat to the flour and knead the dough until it comes together.  Turn the speed up one notch and continue to knead the dough for another 5 minutes.  If the dough is too sticky to the touch, add some more flour.  You want the dough soft, but not so it sticks to your hand when you touch it.
Turn the dough out and form into a ball.  Place it back into the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise for about 3 hours.

For the filling:
1 ½  lb ground pork
5 oz cabbage, finely chopped
1 cup chicken stock (I used chicken and pork stock that I had made and frozen previously)
3 tablespoons light soy sauce
3 tablespoons rice wine
2 tablespoons pork fat or duck fat, melted (I used duck fat as that's what I had on hand, but pork fat is preferred)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
2 green onions, finely sliced

Plus a small bowl of water and a small bowl of sesame seeds for finishing the buns.

Combine all the ingredients beginning with the stock on down.  Mix well.
Slice the cabbage into thick pieces and blanche in boiling water for about 1 minute.  Drain and use a food processor to finely chop, or chop by hand.
Add the ground pork and cabbage to the mixture, stirring well to fully incorporate.  Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator until ready to use.  I like to let it sit for a few hours before using.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface.  Knead the dough with your hands for a minute and then divide into 3 equal parts.  Start with one piece and cover the other two with a clean towel so they won't dry out.  
Roll the dough out into a long tube and cut into small pieces about the size of a large gum ball, about 1" in diameter.  
Press each ball with the palm of your hand into a flat round disc.  
Use a small rolling pin to roll each out into a thin shell, about 3-4" in diameter.
Put a small round of the pork filling in the center.  With the dough in your left hand, and your left thumb on the edge of the dough, work it in a circular motion pinching together the edges of the dough until you've closed it into a sealed bun. There are several Youtube videos on this.  Just search how to wrap bao tze.
Dip each quickly in a little bowl of water and then sesame seeds.

To cook the bao tze, heat a well seasoned cast iron skillet or non stick pan over medium heat.  Add a little oil and and place the bao tze on top.  Add enough water to cover the bao tze about ½ to ⅔ of the way up.  Cover with a lid and let cook until all the water is evaporated and the bottoms of the bao tze are browned.  As the pan gets louder, and starts sizzling, you'll know the baos are almost ready.  You can either flip them over to brown the other side or serve them up.

I browned both sides and served them with some spicy soy and vinegar sauce.  2 parts soy to 1 part black vinegar, a bit of chili oil and some sugar.
The bao tze were juicy and delicious.  I always make a large batch, freeze them and cook them when desired.  Yum!


  1. Hi Mary! I stumbled upon your blog when I was searching for some recipe, and I was so happy to discover this treasure! Your food looks amazing and they are a motivation for me to keep trying and experimenting in my little kitchen. I am still an inexperienced cooker, but I am really enjoying it - though sometimes it's frustrating when I failed something, which happens quite often. Are you also living in Seattle?


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