Siopao Asado

Siopao was brought to the Philippines by Cantonese immigrants.  The word “siopao” came from its Chinese cousin, Cha siu bao or char siu bao, which is similar to siopao though the filling in Cha siu bao or char siu bao is usually barbequed pork, while siopao asado is stewed pork.  This is a bit confusing since  ‘asado’ , a Spanish, word really means barbeque.  How asado in Philippine cuisine became stewed pork is a bit of a mystery to me.

Anyhow, siopao has become a part of Philippine cuisine with two popular variations: Asado and Bola-Bola (meatballs).  This recipe is the Asado kind.

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Siopao Asado


  • For the dough:
  • 1 package active or instant yeast, about 2-1/4 teaspoon
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil, more for greasing a large bowl
  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • For the filling (Pork Asado):
  • 3/4 pound pork butt or shoulder, cut into large cubes
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 medium onion, quartered
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 teaspoon all purpose flour dissolved in 1 tablespoon water


  1. Combine onions, water, pork, soy sauce, brown sugar, star anise, oyster sauce in saucepan. Cook over low hear until pork is fork tender (about an hour or more). Drain the sauce (do not discard). Shred the pork using a fork and set aside. Thicken the sauce (that the pork was cooked in) by whisking in flour and water over medium heat (about 1-2 minutes).
  2. Stir yeast into a a bowl with a small amount of water to dissolve the yeast. Add oil and stir. Whisk flour, sugar, and baking powder together in a separate large bowl. Add yeast mixture while slowly stirring until a soft dough forms. Shape the dough together into a ball with your fingers, transfer to a clean work surface and knead until the dough becomes smooth and slightly elastic (approx 5 minutes). Test the dough if it is done by pressing your finger into it. The dough should spring back with a slight indentation remaining.
  3. Grease a large bowl with canola oil and place the dough in the bowl, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, put it in a warm, draft-free place such as an oven and let it sit until the dough has nearly doubled, about 1 to 2 hours. You can make the dough in advance but make sure to cover the bowl well with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Let the dough sit at room temperature before rolling it.
  4. Divide dough in half and roll into a log. Divide log into six pieces, about 2-1/2 ounces each piece. Roll each piece of dough into a ball and flatten gently in between your palms. With your fingers, gently shape the dough into a disc â?? the size of your palm â?? with a small bulge at the center, which the Chinese calls the belly.
  5. Place a generous tablespoon of pork filling in the center of the dough, right on its belly. Gently tug the edges of the dough toward the center to wrap the filling. Gather the edges together and pinch the top to fully wrap the filling. Lay filled bun on a tray and cover with a towel. Continue shaping and filling the rest of the dough. Set aside filled buns to rise for about half an hour before steaming.
  6. Cut 2-inch square pieces of parchment paper and use these to line the bottom of each bun during steaming. Make sure that thereâ??s an inch space between buns inside the steamer. Steam buns until done, about 15 to 20 minutes. Serve with asado sauce.

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