Siopao Asado is a Filipino steamed pork bun made with soft, fluffy white dough filled with braised tender pork in sweet and savory sauce and a slice of hard boiled egg. Siopao can be consumed on its own or served with siopao sauce.
This Pork Siopao Asado recipe was adapted from the Chinese hot bun called cha siu bao. Dough is similar but the filling is different in flavor. They are both delicious though.
The Filipino siopao dough is soft, tender and fluffy instead of crumbly and dry.
Siopao Asado and other variants like bola bola (meatballs) and chicken siopao are commonly sold in bakeries, street stalls or restaurants and it is a popular snack among Filipinos. Depending on size, one is enough to fill you up.
Our recent trip to the Philippines in 2019, my brother surprised us with Ma Mon Luk siopao to take with us on a long drive. It brought back memories when we were younger.
When I moved to the USA, my mom had send me 4 different siopao recipes over the years. She loves to experiment with friends and siopao is one of the most ordered from her catering business. One of the recipe was marked “this is very easy” but I opted to use her other recipe without milk.
Steps to make siopao
- Cook the pork asado filling
- Make the siopao sauce
- Make hard boiled eggs
- Prepare and proof dough
- Assemble siopao
How to make it and some tips
(1) Pork asado filling - Make the pork filling a day in advance and refrigerate otherwise make it on the same day and let it cool down. I like to refrigerate while making dough. Pork filling will stick to each other and it would be easier to divide and enclose in the dough.
I prefer to make the filling in advance so I am not cooking all day. It is your call whichever is easier for you.
Pork is diced uniformly for even cooking. Depending on your preference, it can be diced or shredded. I prefer the texture of diced pork.
If you like it shredded, you can cut the pork in bigger cubes.
Diced pork is braised and stewed in low heat. Slow cooking renders a tasty, fork tender pork asado filling. Reserved some braising liquid to make the siopao sauce. Strain and return back the solids in the pan.
For shredded meat, when tender remove pork with a slotted spoon and shred with 2 forks. Return back to pan then add cornstarch slurry to slightly thicken the mixture.
Note: Slowly add the cornstarch slurry while stirring constantly. Also, don’t add it all at once. Add half and see if mixture has thicken, if not add the rest of slurry.
(2) Siopao sauce – When making the pork asado filling, I make it with more sauce so I can take some of the tasty liquid or broth and use it as base for the siopao sauce.
The siopao sauce is absolutely delicious using the braising liquid.
You can strain the pork broth or braising liquid before making the sauce. Sometimes I do other times I don’t. Again, it is a matter of preference. If you like a smooth sauce, strain the pork broth.
Add a little bit of water and seasoning when making the sauce and after a few minutes of cooking cornstarch slurry is added to slightly thicken the sauce. Stir constantly while adding cornstarch slurry.
You can make this in advance or make it last so it is warm when served with siopao.
(3) Hard boiled eggs – You can also make the eggs a day in advance. Refrigerate once cool. Peel and slice the following day.
(4) Make the siopao dough – If you made the pork asado filling and hard boiled eggs a day in advance, all you have to do the following day is making the siopao dough, assembling and steaming the siopao.
Again, whatever works for you. You can make it all in 1 day if that’s easier.
How to measure the flour – Don’t dunk your measuring cup and scoop the flour. You will end up with a dense dough. Use the SPOON and LEVEL technique.
Take a spoon and fill your measuring cup then level off the top with a knife or a metal cake spatula. The flour feels lighter and airy instead of dense.
Note: Don’t pack the flour by pressing it down with the spoon or tapping the measuring cup before leveling.
In my early days of cooking, this is one of my mistake. I ignored my mom’s notes and took the shortcut. My dough was heavy instead of soft and fluffy.
Sift the flour – I take this extra step then I measure again using the spoon and level technique. You’ll be surprise with the excess flour left after measuring. I use a fine mesh strainer when sifting the flour.
COMBINING ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR AND CORNSTARCH
I don’t want to confuse you, the following step is optional but it makes a difference. I’ve been experimenting with the dough for quite a while.
My aunt from Canada orders siopao that is snow white in color with soft and fluffy dough. No, I don’t have that recipe and my dough is not as white either.
In the hopes of achieving similar siopao from Canada, I discovered in my experiments that I like the texture of combining all-purpose flour and cornstarch. It micmics the texture of cake flour.
Cake flour has less gluten than all-purpose flour, thus yields a lighter and softer dough. By combining all-purpose flour and cornstarch, you have the best of both worlds. By micmicking the properties of cake flour, it creates an airy and softer texture.
It is not cakey but dough is soft even after a few days. Also, it was easy to make the siopao with pleated top.
For now, make it with all-purpose flour. If you like the taste of this siopao recipe and decide to make it again, try the combination of all-purpose flour and cornstarch.
After sifting the flour, remove 2 tablespoons of flour per cup and add 2 tablespoons of sifted cornstarch. Cornstarch is dense so you want it sifted before adding to the flour.
Note: You can also prepare the flour the night before and cover it with saran wrap.
(5) Mix the ingredients – For a while I was hesitant to use instant yeast. I felt more confident using the active dry yeast. When it rises and bubbles, I can tell it is active and alive.
Anyway, my mom was able to convince me to start using instant yeast as long as it is new and not expired.
Tip: Store yeast in the freezer to retain its freshness.
Combine and mix all the dry ingredients with the flour. Then add water, yeast, flour mixture and shortening in the stand mixer.
(5) Knead the dough – Kneading by hand takes quite a while until dough is smooth. After kneading for a while, dough will be less sticky, elastic and easy to form into a ball.
It is easier if you have a high powered stand mixer. Mix all the ingredients in the mixer using a dough hook. After a few minutes of mixing, you will feel your mixer is working hard.
You can continue using your mixer but it is a sign for me to knead by hand. I don’t want to overwork my mixer and burn it’s motor.
Continue kneading by hand for 5 to 8 minutes or until dough is smooth, not very sticky and easy to form into a ball. It takes about 10 to 12 minutes If kneading manually from start to finish.
Place dough in a greased bowl with room to expand and rise. Cover with saran wrap and place on your kitchen counter or in the oven with lid close. After 50-60 minutes check if dough has doubled in size then remove from oven.
Punch dough to release the air and form into a log. Divide and roll each dough into a ball.
Note: Dough likes warm area to rise. For high altitude or if cool inside the house, I like to fire up the oven at the lowest setting for 5 minutes then keeping a container of boiling water in the oven.
I do this right before I knead the dough. So by the time I’m done, it is already warm. With siopao, I noticed it makes the bun yellowish.
(6) Assemble – Take a dough and flatten with a rolling pin to form a circle with a diameter of 4 inches and center thicker than the surrounding dough. Add about 2 ½ – 3 tablespoons pork asado filling and a slice of egg at the center.
Tip: Divide the filling beforehand.
To close dough, you can do it the traditional way or with a pleated top like the Chinese steamed buns. Place parchment paper at the bottom of bun.
To seal dough the traditional way (round siopao), gather and secure the edges of dough so filling doesn’t spill, then place parchment paper. Tip: Don’t let sauce spill on the edge of dough, it will be hard to seal.
To seal with pleated top, grab dough with your thumb and index finger, pressing it together, then use middle finger to make another fold, then lift your index finger and press the last fold, use again your middle finger to make another fold and so on until dough is pleated then twist to seal. Place parchment paper at the bottom.
It is quite hard to explain this process, watch my video (coming soon) to visually see how I do it.
The finished siopao has time to rise while making the others. The 1st batch goes in the steamer first.
Note: Don’t overfill with pork asado. It will be hard to close or it can collapse.
(7) Steam – Before or halfway making the rest of the siopao, fill the bottom of steamer with 6 to 8 cups water. Bring to a simmer. Once it simmer, lower heat to medium-low. Place your first batch of siopao in the steamer basket with lid wrapped in cloth to absorb droplets of water that might drip onto the siopao.
Place siopao about 2 inches apart from each other to have room to expand otherwise they will stick to each other.
Steam for 15 minutes. Do not open lid while steaming.
Note: If you have 2 steamer basket, it is hard to prevent some water droplets dripping onto the middle steamer even though lid is wrapped in cloth. If you like all siopao skin to be smooth and silky, use only one steamer basket.
Where to store
If consumed within 4 days, store in a sealed container and refrigerate otherwise place in a food saver or an airtight container and freeze up to a month and half.
Warm siopao in the steamer until heated through or in the microwave covered with a damp cloth for a minute.
Frequently Asked Questions
Dough will not close, why?
(1) Too much filling.
(2) If sealing dough the traditional way (round siopao), the pork asado sauce spilled at the edge of dough making it hard to seal.
Why is my dough hard?
(1) You had too much flour. Use the spoon and level technique to measure flour.
(2) Your yeast was expired. Don’t use yeast that is close to expiration.
(3) Dough did not double in size – need more proofing time.
Why dough did not rise?
(1) Yeast is bad or expired. Don’t use expired baking powder either.
(2) While proofing, dough prefers a warm area to rise.
Why is my siopao sauce not smooth?
Strain the braising liquid or sauce in a fine mesh strainer. Also, you were not stirring constantly while slowly adding the cornstarch slurry.
After steaming, siopao skin is not smooth with blisters?
(1) Droplets of water dripped onto the siopao. Use a cloth or towel and wrap it around the lid to absorb the droplets of water.
(2) You opened lid while steaming.
Siopao is yellowish, why?
(1) Yeast is expired.
(2) Shortening is old or expired.
Filling was not enough…
(1) Divide the filling before rolling out the individual dough.
Try Other Delicious Filipino Snacks
- ¾ cup lukewarm water
- 2 teaspoons instant yeast
- 1 tablespoon white sugar
- 2 ½ cups flour spoon and level
- 1 teaspoon double acting baking powder
- 2 tablespoons granulated white sugar
- pinch of salt
- 2 ½ tablespoons shortening
Pork Asado Filling
- 1 small onion chopped
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 pound pork shoulder or pork butt diced
- 1 ½ tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 ½ tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 ½ tablespoons Hoisin sauce
- 2 teaspoons oyster sauce
- 1 cup water
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch diluted in 2 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons oil
- salt to taste
- ¾ cup reserved pork broth strained (from pork asado filling)
- ½ cup water
- ¼ teaspoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 3 teaspoons cornstarch diluted in 3 teaspoons water
- salt to taste
- 2 hard boiled eggs peeled and quartered
- 8 Parchment paper
Pork Asado Filling
- In a pan, add oil over medium heat.
- Saute onion until translucent.
- Add garlic. Cook for 1 ½ minutes.
- Add diced pork. Cook until pale.
- Stir-in brown sugar, soy sauce, hoisin sauce and oyster sauce. Cook for a minute.
- Pour water. Bring to a boil then lower heat to medium-low and let pork asado mixture to simmer until fork tender, about 30 minutes or so. Cover pan with lid.
- When tender, reserve ¾ cup braising liquid. Strain and return the solids in the pan. Set aside reserved liquid as base for siopao sauce.
- Season with salt. Note: If you prefer shredded pork, remove meat with a slotted spoon and shred with 2 forks and return to pan.
- Slowly pour the cornstarch mixture while stirring constantly until well blended and slightly thick. Note: Don’t pour cornstarch mixture all at once. Start only with half and see if pork asado filling consistency has thicken. It should not be runny or very thick.
- Turn off heat and transfer in a bowl to cool. Note: It is easier to divide and add filling, if refrigerated. This is optional, though.
- Make the siopao sauce on the same pan (without washing) over medium heat..
- Combine reserved braising liquid, water, soy sauce, hoisin sauce and brown sugar. Bring to a simmer for about 2-3 minutes over medium-low heat.
- Season with salt.
- Slowly pour cornstarch slurry while stirring constantly. Siopao sauce should be slightly thick. Note: Don’t pour cornstarch mixture all at once. Start with half then add the remaining cornstarch slurry if needed.
- Turn off heat and set aside. Transfer to a container. Note: Warm in the microwave when ready to use.
Make Siopao Dough
- Measure all-purpose flour using spoon and level technique (see tips on post). Sift then measure again and remove excess flour. Note: Reserve excess flour to use when kneading.
- Combine all the dry ingredients: Flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. If not not using a stand mixer, after combining the ingredients add water and yeast. Mix and combine with a wooden spoon. Skip to KNEAD.
- If using a stand mixer, add lukewarm water and yeast then add the dry ingredients. Use a dough hook and mix at low speed (Kitchen Aid # 1 to #2).
- Once combined, raise speed to medium until well blended. Once you feel stand mixer is working hard. Turn off mixer.
- Knead – Sprinkle surface with 1 to 2 tablespoons of flour so dough doesn’t stick. Knead dough until smooth. Note: If you did not use a stand mixer initially, knead for about 10 to 12 minutes. If you use a stand mixer, knead for about 5 - 8 minutes or until smooth.
- Proof – Form dough into a ball then transfer in a lightly greased bowl with room to expand. Cover bowl with saran wrap. Place inside oven with lid close or in a warmer area in your kitchen or pantry for an hour until dough double in size.
- Divide Dough – Punch dough with your fist to release air. Form dough into a log and divide into 8 pieces.
- Assemble Siopao – Flatten each dough using a rolling pin with center thicker than surrounding areas. Place dough in one hand then fill the center with 2 ½ to 3 tablespoons pork asado and egg. Seal using the traditional way (round siopao) or with pleated top. With the traditional way, gather the edges to the center and seal the edges tightly to prevent filling from spilling then put the paper lining. With pleated top, I suggest you watch my video. The edges are gathered in a pleated way then it is twisted to seal, then place parchment paper at the bottom.
- The 1st assembled siopaos will be steamed first. It had time to rise while making the others.
- STEAM – Before filling siopao, fill the bottom of steamer with 6 to 8 cups water over medium heat. Bring to a simmer then adjust heat to medium-low. Water should not be boiling. Place 4 siopao in 1st steamer basket and another 4 on the 2nd steamer basket covered with lid wrapped in cloth. Cloth will absorb water droplets that will drip on siopao. Steam for 15 minutes. Don’t open lid while steaming. Turn off heat and wait about 2 minutes before opening lid.
- Note: Siopao skin is smoother if using only 1 basket steamer. Water droplets from the 1st steamer basket can still drop on siopao in the 2nd basket (middle steamer) even with lid wrapped in cloth.
- Serve warm with warm siopao sauce. Enjoy!
- Don't use expired flour, yeast, baking powder and shortening.
- Pork asado filling and siopao sauce can be made a day in advance and refrigerate.
- For a more softer dough, you can replace 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour with 2 tablespoons of sifted cornstarch imitating the texture of cake flour. Cake flour is lighter and softer in texture due low protein content. The images posted are made with both all-purpose flour and cornstarch. More about this in the post.
- Refrigerate leftover in a sealed container for up to 4 days or store in a food saver or airtight container and freeze for 1 ½ months.
- Warm siopao in the steamer until heated through or in the microwave covered with a damp cloth for a minute.