siopao bola bola recipe

Sweet steamed buns with minced pork filling. This Siopao Bola-Bola is the Filipino version of Steamed Pork Buns. Made extra special with the addition of salted eggs and Chinese sausage.

It has been a while since I made my Siopao with Chicken Asado post and I thought it is about time to make the other version, Siopao Bola-Bola.

Bola-Bola is how we call meatballs in Filipino which serves as filling for these steamed buns. Special Siopao Bola-Bola, however, has added salted egg and sometimes, Chinese sausage.

I got a lot of questions and some tips from our readers on making siopao. I also tried several other recipes for making the steamed buns to achieve my perfect Siopao.

My goal was to have white steamed buns with a shiny, smooth skin and soft and fluffy inside that does not collapse or shrink or dimple after steaming. It should also have a slightly chewy bite and not cakey or crumbly.

WHAT FLOUR TO USE FOR STEAMED BUNS/SIOPAO?

I read in several recipes that they use cake flour to have soft and fluffy steamed buns. I tried it and the first thing I noticed is how soft the dough is. The problem with that is that it was rather difficult to form into a siopao as it does not keep the folds well.

I think it would be perfect if you want a simple Mantou. It is also fine to use if you plan to make a simple round filled buns. However, the resulting texture would be a bit crumbly.

In this recipe, I used regular all-purpose flour which normally has a medium gluten level. It keeps its form better and tastes better too with a bit chewy texture.

HOW TO GET SIOPAO/ STEAMED BUNS WHITE?

I got several people saying that adding some vinegar to the water for steaming would result in whiter buns. I tried it and well I am not so convinced that it makes any difference. Maybe I need to conduct a thorough comparison test.

Those super white steamed buns are produced using specialty flours that are (super) bleached with low gluten level.

I also replaced some of the water with milk and I think that contributed more to my bao buns looking brighter.

HOW TO MAKE SOFT, FLUFFY SIOPAO / STEAMED BUNS?

I use instant yeast to make these bao buns. I prefer it to active dry yeast to shorten the rising time and to save the time of proofing it. Active dry yeast can be used, of course.

I use lesser yeast (4 grams for 390grams flour) to avoid the yeasty aftertaste. To make up for the reduced leavening agent, we add baking powder. I use double-acting baking powder that works in two phases; once when cold, and once when hot. This ensures that our steamed buns will have a good rise while being steamed.

HOW TO STORE SIOPAO/STEAMED BUNS?

If to be consumed within 3-4 days, you can just place the cooked siopao / steamed buns in an airtight container and put in the fridge. You may also freeze them up to 5-6 weeks.

To reheat siopao, just bring them out and thaw if frozen until they (almost) reach room temperature. Steam for 5 minutes or longer for bigger buns.

Prep TimeCook TimeRising TimeTotal TimeReady
30 minutes15 minutes30 minutes1 hour 15 minutesReady

INGREDIENTS FOR SIOPAO BOLA-BOLA

Dough:

  1. 3 cups (390g) all-purpose flour
  2. 1/3 cup sugar
  3. 1/2 tablespoon (4g) instant yeast
  4. 1/2 tablespoon baking powder (double-acting)
  5. 2/3 cup (158g) lukewarm milk
  6. 1/3 cup (81g)lukewarm water
  7. 3 tablespoon shortening

Filling:

  1. 250 grams ground pork
  2. 1 medium onion, chopped finely
  3. 1/4 cup shrimp, chopped
  4. 1 egg
  5. 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  6. 2 tablespoon oyster sauce
  7. 1 teaspoon garlic powder or 1-2 cloves garlic minced
  8. 1 tablespoon flour
  9. 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  10. salt if needed
  11. 2 salted eggs
  12. 1 piece of Chinese sausage

HOW TO MAKE THE SIOPAO DOUGH?

  • Combine flour, sugar, yeast, and baking powder in a large bowl.
  • Pour in milk and water and mix several times just to moisten the dry ingredients.
  • Cut in the shortening and mix until a dough forms.
  • Tip the dough into a flat surface and knead until smooth and elastic.
  • Rest the dough for 20-30 minutes until it has risen to just almost double the original size. (Meanwhile, prepare the filling)
  • Turn it to a lightly floured surface and roll into a log. Divide into two. Return half back to the bowl and place in the fridge. This will slow down the rising.
  • Divide the other half into 5 equal parts. Fold each piece to its center several times until no longer puffy and sooth before forming it into a ball.

HOW TO MAKE THE BOLA-BOLA FILLING?

  • Add all the ingredients for the bola-bola (meatball) in a bowl, except for the salted eggs and Chinese sausage. Mix until well combined.
  • Cover with plastic wrap and let it rest for a few minutes or until the dough is ready.
  • Cut a piece of salted egg into half and then each half into quarters giving you 8 in total each egg. You can also just cut a piece into 4 if desired. Set aside.
  • Cut the Chinese sausage into pieces about half-inch thick. Set aside.

To assemble:

1- Take a piece of a dough ball and flatten it, using your palm and a rolling pin, into about 4-5 inch circle leaving a small bulge in the middle.
2- Scoop a tablespoon of filling and place it in the middle. Gather the ends towards the middle from one side until you reach the other end closing the filling in. Pinch and twist to seal the ends together o top. Repeat with the remaining dough balls. Let them rest for 5-10 minutes.
3- Before steaming, put a piece of parchment or wax paper at the bottom of each bun. Place the buns in the steamer leaving at least an each apart as they will rise and spread while steaming. Steam for 15 minutes at low heat.

NOTES IN MAKING THE PERFECT SIOPAO / STEAMED BUNS

Adding milk in the dough made the buns soft longer than just using water. Just like when you bake bread.

Kneading the dough properly contributes to having a nice, smooth and even skin that will not wrinkle or dimple once steamed. So make sure you knead it enough until it becomes smooth (10-12 minutes by hand or 8-10 with a mixer).

I also learned that steaming at low heat helps to prevent the buns from collapsing.

EASY SIOPAO SAUCE:

  • 2 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 tablespoon hoisin sauce
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and simmer over medium heat while stirring constantly until sauce thickens.

 

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