Steamy Pork Buns

steamy pork buns

If you’re wondering if steamy pork buns are the same thing as steamed pork buns, they are. Steamy pork buns got their name when my boyfriend, Nathan, misread an email from me. He kept calling them this for a good 6 months before I corrected him, but the name stuck. Whatever you want to call them, there are fewer meals that are more fun for me to make or more frequently requested by Nathan (he captured the beautiful picture of the steamy buns above in return for two buns). It’s like creating a giant dumpling, involves making dough (which I love), and uses hoisin sauce (my asian kryptonite). Better yet, they freeze beautifully-just steam them straight from the freezer for a few extra minutes and you have dinner ready to go.

The Bite: When I smell hoisin sauce, I automatically start to salivate. Normally, an adult produces about 1-2 liters of saliva per day (I’m definitely on the high end of this scale whenever I eat these buns). Saliva is made up of 99.5% water. The remaining fraction contains enzymes, electrolytes, minerals, mucus, and antimicrobial agents to help you to digest your food and heighten your sense of taste. From an oral health stand point, saliva is essential for maintaining healthy teeth. Calcium and phosphate, both of which are found in your saliva, help to remineralize your teeth and protect against decay. In addition, saliva helps to neutralize acidic foods, fight off microbial pathogens, and clear away food particles that stick to your tooth surfaces. So, for the sake of your oral health, make these steamy pork buns and reap the benefits.

Steamy Pork Buns

Yield: 10 buns (enough for 10 servings as an appetizer or 5 servings for a main dish)


1 cup warm water, room temperature
3 tablespoons sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
3 tablespoons canola oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder


1 teaspoon five-spice powder
1 pound pork tenderloin, trimmed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large shallot, sliced thinly
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon minced peeled fresh ginger
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon salt


Combine the water, yeast, and sugar in a bowl. Wait about 5 minutes or until the yeast is foamy. Add the rest of the ingredients to the bowl, and mix with a wooden spoon (or your hands) until the dough is shaggy. Dump the bowl’s contents onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes. The dough should be smooth and elastic (if the dough is too sticky, add a tablespoon of extra flour at a time until the desired consistency is reached). Cover the bowl and let rise in a warm place for about an hour or until the dough has doubled in size. Punch down the dough and divide into 10 equally portioned balls. Let rest for 5 minutes.

Cover the pork in five-spice powder and heat a pan over medium high heat. Spray the pan with cooking spray and cook for about 18 minutes or until a thermometer registers at 155˚F. Let cool slightly, shred, and place in a bowl. Fry the shallot in 1 tablespoon of olive oil for 3 minutes so that it is slightly browned. Place the shallots in the pork bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients for the filling and stir to thoroughly combine

Note: if you have already cooked meat in your fridge that needs to be up, feel free to sub 3/4 pound cooked meat for the pork and add the 5-spice directly to the filling mixture. I often have left over chicken on hand so sub this for pork.

Role out the 10 balls of dough into individual circles (about 5-inches in diameter). Distribute the filling evenly between the circles (about a 1/4 cup for each). Gather the edges of the circle and pull them towards the center until you have made a steamy bun “purse.” Firmly press the edges together and twist to seal. Place a vegetable steamer in a large sauce pot that has a lid. Fill the pot with 1 inch of water or enough water so that it’s just below your steamer. You don’t want the water so high that it will splash your buns once it’s boiling. Bring the water to a boil, spray the steamer with cooking spray, and place the buns 1-inch apart in the steamer. Put the lid on the pot and steam for about 15 minutes or until the buns are puffy and smooth to the touch. Repeat with the remaining buns.

Source: adapted from Cooking Light


3 thoughts on “Steamy Pork Buns

  1. Hey Katie! I read your post this morning and absolutely had to go buy the ingredients and make these Steamy Pork Buns! Now, I have only ever worked w/ yeast twice, I’m a huge whimp where that is concerned. But this recipe was really quite easy and the flavors are terrific! Now, my buns came out a tad on the doughy side, like there was too much bun and not enough pork filling (even though my tenderloin was a little over a pound.) Any suggestions? I am definitely making these again, when you said they freeze easy, I was sold! Also, when you are serving these as a main dish, what do you like to accompany them with?
    I’m a big fan of your posts! Keep ’em coming!

    • First of all, I’m so glad you like the blog! Secondly, if you aren’t happy with the dough to filling ratio, I would suggest using less dough or more filling when you assemble the buns. To maximize your filling to dough ratio, I would put as much filling as you can into each dough disk so that you can just pinch the seams to seal the buns. In general steam buns are more doughy than dumplings as the dough contains yeast and baking powder so the “skins” will expand when heated. When I serve this as a main dish, I usually pair them with Brussels sprouts in a hoisin/honey glaze, steamed asparagus, or a spinach salad dressed in olive oil, soy sauce, fresh squeezed orange juice, and sesame oil. If I want a more substantial meal, I steam up a side of coconut rice as well. I hope this helps!

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