There’s something about me unknown to most.  I have a sickly obsession for Chinese steamed pork buns.  Sickly, I said.  I think it was a childhood trauma that I developed in my earliest memory, over one afternoon by a hungry swimming pool when it was given to me as a snack, but I never suspect it would follow me ghostly into adulthood like an unsociable kink.  Ask my husband who never understood any of it, that whether it is placed on the table of a proper restaurant or abandoned in the metal cage of an electric warmer inside any 7-11’s in Asia, or even just a carcass of it laying on the asphalt being picked by a mob of pigeons… you put a steamed pork bun within my perimeter of sight?  And you’re likely to achieve a deer-in-headlights reaction from me.  Yeah.  Throw a steamed pork bun in front of me while I’m crossing the street?  And you can watch the progression of a human-roadkill unfold with captions, NatGeo-style.  I wish I could say that this is where the embarrassment stops, but no.  Thing is, size matters, too.  Even though we all know that size does not imply superiority or function, but as far as steamed bun goes, it is fair to say that I like’em as unapologetically as how men like their boobs.  Maximumly enormous for no good reasons.  I know, it’s completely shallow, illogical, utterly fantasy-based.  In fact, overly large steamed buns usually mean overly thick doughs and little fillings, and for the past 35-some years in the ever-pursuit for “the one”, big or small, I hardly found a steamed pork bun that I actually like.  I just believe that it’s out there.  It is an obsession supported only by faith, that as long as I bite into every single steamed pork bun that comes across my path, that if I just do that, then someday somewhere, I would find the one.  And that day came.



That day, on a busy Beijing street where I’ve overlooked all these years, I found the bun of my dreams.  Huge… colossal… almost comically sized, it was the steamed pork bun I’ve always wanted, with soft but chewy dough in the optimal thickness, filled with flavourful, savoury and non-soggy filling that was a complete meal on its own.  It almost made me forget about the “but”… well…  But, the only thing was… there was practically no pork.  Fuck.  Perhaps it’s the traditional way, perhaps it’s even the healthy way, but there was about a whole damn cup of diced cabbage, even though nicely seasoned if I might add, with only about one tbsp, one lousy tbsp of diced pork!  Now that, that really pissed me off.  It might as well be called, the almost vegetarian pork bun.  What was I to do?  Could I right this wrong?

Three days later, I think the question is, did I or did I not overdo it?

Behold… of this thing that I created…  What should I call this fine specimen of human greed, I asked myself…?  It’s gotta be something absurd, something inherently wrong… immoral almost.  Because, if that “dream bun” I found on the street was NY-style pizza, this is deep dish.  Each bun is packed with a wallop of scallion and ground pork filling, one piece of braised skin-on pork belly, one while braised shiitake mushroom, one salted duck yolk, and as much The Mean Santa chili confit to my heart’s content, and measures 5 1/2 ” in diameter and almost 1 lb in weight.  Stuffed within its baby-bottom-like, supple but chewy and slightly sweet dough, is its ambitious true self that deals in rampant pork fat, the richness in salted yolk, the spiciness of stewed chilis, and an overall ruthlessness for insatiable flavours.  If this isn’t criminal, I don’t know what is.  So my friends, as much as our pop-culture demands as it is fitting, between this and “El Chapo”, I’ve chosen…

The Walter White, the kingpin of meat buns.  And I hope, it meets its gloriously tragic death, in your tummy.





Yield: 4 mega buns

You can make the filling of the buns as elaborate or as simple as you like, with the pork-scallion filling as the basic foundation, and consider the braised pork belly, salted duck yolk and chilis confit, or any combination of them, as "optional".


  • 4 whole dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 16.4 oz (465 grams) skin-on pork belly, cut into 1" (2.5 cm) cubes
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 5 large slices of ginger
  • 2 whole star anise
  • 1/4 cup (60 grams) shaoxing wine
  • 3 tbsp (45 grams) soy sauce
  • 2 tsp (14 grams) molasses
  • 1/4 cup (60 grams) water
  • 2 tsp (8 grams) light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp (5 grams) smooth peanut butter
  • 3 1/4 cup (400 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 4 1/2 tbsp (56 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp (5 grams) instant dry yeast
  • 1/3 tsp (2 grams) salt
  • 1 cup minus 1/2 tbsp (230 grams) water
  • 21 oz (600 grams) ground pork
  • 2 cups (120 grams) finely diced scallion
  • 4 tbsp (59 grams) soy sauce, preferably dark
  • 1 1/2 tbsp (19 grams) toasted sesame oil
  • 2 tsp (6 grams) cornstarch
  • 1 tsp ground white pepper
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp cold water
  • 4 Chinese salted duck egg yolks
  • The Mean Santa chilis sauce/chili confit


  1. TO MAKE THE BRAISED PORK BELLY: Soak the dried mushrooms in hot water for 15 min. In a braising pot over medium-high heat, cook the pork belly until no longer pink. Add the smashed garlic, sliced ginger and star anise, and continue to cook until pork/garlics/gingers are slightly browned. Add the shaoxing wine, soy sauce and molasses, cooking and stirring for a couple min until the liquid is slightly reduced, and the ingredients are evenly coated in caramel color. Drain the mushrooms and add to the pot, along with water, light brown sugar and smooth peanut butter. Mix evenly, then turn the heat down to very low. Put the lid on and gently simmer for 2 to 2.5 hours, turning a couple times in between, until the porks are really soft, and the sauce is shiny and thick (you may add an extra tbsp of water along the way if the liquid is reducing too fast). This can be made the day before.
  2. TO MAKE THE PORK SCALION FILLING: With chopsticks or fork, evenly mix ground pork, diced scallion, soy sauce, toasted sesame oil, cornstarch, white pepper and sugar together. Stir in a single direction for 1 min until the mixture feels stiff and sticky. Add the water, 1 tbsp at a time, and continue to stir for 1 min for each addition. We're creating kind of an "emulsion" here, and at the end the mixture should feel sticky and paste-like. Set aside in the fridge until needed (can be made while the dough is rising).
  3. TO MAKE THE DOUGH AND BUNS: With stand-mixer or hand-held mixer with dough-hooks, mix flour, sugar, instant dry yeast and salt in the bowl. Add water then start mixing on low, scraping the bowl once, until a cohesive dough forms. Turn the speed to medium-high, and knead for another 5~6 min until the dough is very smooth and elastic (you can also knead with your hands vigorously for 10 min). The dough should pull cleanly away from the bowl, and is soft, tacky but not overly sticky. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise for 1.5 to 2 hours until fully doubled.
  4. Transfer to a lightly floured surface and divide into 4 equal portions. You won't need too much flour to work with this dough, so only dust lightly as needed. Roll 1 portion out into a disk about 1/3" (1 cm) thick, then roll the outer rim of the disk (about 1", 2 cm of it) outward to make it even thinner, about 1/3 of the thickness compared to the center. This is where the folds will gather, so it needs to be thinner to begin with. Transfer the dough onto a bowl with the same diameter, so it creates a natural crater/dent that makes everything easier. Fill the "crater" with 1/4 of the pork-scallion filling, 1 piece of braised pork belly, 1 mushroom, 1 salted duck egg yolk, and a couple tsp of The Mean Santa chilis sauce/chili confit (drain away as much excess oil as you can). Now bring the edges of the dough upwards to close the bun, making overlapping folds as you turn the bowl and pinch tightly at the end, until the bun is completely sealed at the top. You may leave a small hole in the centre of the bun for a classic look, but it's not necessary. Invert the bowl to release the bun onto your hand, then place the bun seam-side up on a piece of parchment. Repeat with the rest of the buns.
  5. TO STEAM THE BUNS: Let each bun proof slightly again for 15~20 min. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat, with a steamer on top. Note that the buns will expand at least 50% during steaming, so you may only be able to cook 1 or 2 at a time depending. Place the buns onto the steamer, then turn the heat down to medium to medium-high (extremely high heat will cause the dough to expand too much, and deflate later on). Put the steamer-lid on and steam for 17~20 min until the centre is cooked.
  6. Serve immediately. Or once cooled, wrap with plastic-wrap and keep inside the freezer. Steam for 10 min over medium-high heat to bring it back alive.


I ran out of dark soy sauce for this recipe, but you should use dark for a better color of the pork filling.




  • i love how everyone does pork belly red braising a little differently! I’ve never seen peanut butter used before. and these buns are amazing – next level in so many ways.

  • Gah! I was hoping to see the recipe of the turmeric chicken… will we have also that? It looked sooooooo good in the instagram pics…

  • Oh wow!! I don’t think my eyes could have gotten any wider! King pin is such a befitting name for this beast! This is an absolute beauty… and until I can get myself to make this… I’ll just keep visiting and drool over it here! :D

  • you are a magical wizard and i think we are kindred spirits in the pork bun realm. as a lady with preference for chicago deep dish pizza over new york style pizza, i am in full support of those deep dish steamed bun. you WIN.

  • .
    Sluggishly, I slinked into work. My feet barley leaving the pavement to take the next step. *sigh*
    Answered the mundane emails, that sat overnight—eagerly awaiting my equally mundane replies. *sigh* *ho hum*
    With glazed over eyes, I checked the voicemail *eye roll* MORE MUNDANE!!!
    *slouched shoulders* w/ simultaneous *head drop*
    In THE CORNER OF MY EYE, I SPOT A TREAT AND SWEETE TREAT BROUGHT IN BY THE sweetest coworker ever! He brings it in every 9 months at the end of his fast. HE celebrates with all of us!. Over then years , I hadn’t realized how much I look forward to celebrating with him! SHEESH I BITE AND CRUCH THE BUTTERY FLAKEY GOODNEED OF THE PHYLLO NOISILY GIVING WAY AS I close my eyes and revel in its perfect-ness. *I’ve got a great idea*
    Why not continue this food party and see what my favorite blogs have been up to.. LAWQD ONLY KNOWS why the one and only blog I went to was Lady and Pups.
    At this point, I ACTUALLY tear up a lil bit—and so, I am left SPEECHLESS. So I will sum it up in your own words: “The Walter White, the kingpin of meat buns. And I hope, it meets its gloriously tragic death, in your tummy.”

    And in regards to this piece of art you have created—I have to try it and sooo I shall end with some words of W.W. “Heisenberg” himself:
    “I’ve still got things left to do.”

    – Walter White ”

    • Crystal, hahaaaaa love your loath for mundane mornings! I hope mr. white will rest peacefully knowing this is part of his legacy. But again, he prolly wants 20 millions instead.

  • Fuck. I’ve decided that you’re a witch, because the things you come up with have an obviously spellbinding effect on me and I start to immediately formulate plans to get these dishes made as soon as possible.

  • All my dreams… have come true this very moment, and have resolved my memories of overly thick, dry pork buns with a small little pebble of meat filling.

  • Wow. You truly think outside the box! This is nothing close to a traditional bun but so much more tempting. I do find beating the meat with sesame oil adds a lot more flavor than water alone.

    Got to try this recipe when the weather cools down a bit.

  • Mandy- Definitely going to try this but want to bake instead of steam. What do you think?

    Also, I’d like to just say ‘Maximumly enormous” is not how all us men like our boobs. I for one prefer fit and perky thank you very much!

    • Dan, I’m not sure how well this dough will bake in the oven. It might be too dry without the additional moisture provided by the steam, I think… And on the note of boobs, if you have to pick, “fit and perky and small”, or “fit and perky and large”? :)

      • Yes I think you are correct- I will stick with steaming. I just wanted to make about 6 at once and was thinking baking would save time. But I definitely don’t want them too dry.
        Regarding our ‘other’ topic of discussion, I would have to say they should ‘fit the hips’ if you know what I mean. Too many fakes here in LA. Voluptuousness is fine but so is slim and trim. I am sure you are perfect!

  • Hmm I noticed you didn’t have recipe for fried filled bun/bread, so rather than steamed, can it be fried?

  • I just made this for the husbands birthday dinner and it was a big success with him and with the in laws, mind you they arent into asian cuisine. He asked for this specifically when i asked him what he wanted for his birthday, somehow he remembered this recipe. Actually i thought i wont be able to do it but luckily i was. Thank you mandy for the awesome recipe.

  • Do you think I can add napa cabbage to the pork filling or will it be too wet? I plan on making a simple version without the egg and pork belly. Thanks Mandy!

      • Made this today and it was so flavorful and super easy! Decided to try first with just the pork/scallion filling without cabbage and the inside still came out pretty juicy. I made one mistake and forgot about them after wrapping so they rested for way too long instead of just 20 min. Each bun expanded like crazy and looked flatter than usual. Still turned out delicious! :) Do you think White Whole Wheat flour would work for the dough?

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