Siopao (sho-pow) is another popular Filipino snack. They are fluffy steamed buns that are filled with a sweet and savory meat-like filling, called Asado. It’s one of the best Filipino savory snacks! And this dish is very nostalgic to me, it takes me back to the Philippines and also Guam, my home. This is pretty close to the real thing, and if you don’t believe me, it looks like you gotta just try it for yourself. You won’t regret it, just trust me! It’s the perfect all-day snack because I personally ate these for breakfast, lunch, snack, and even dinner. And if you’re like me, you would probably do the same!
- ⅔ cups (156g) – warm water, 100° F
- 1 teaspoon – sugar (to activate the yeast)
- 1 ¼ teaspoon – active dry yeast
- 2 ½ cups (320g) – all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon – baking powder
- ½ teaspoon – salt
- ¼ cup (50g) – granulated white sugar
- 1 ½ tablespoon – vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon – soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon – vegan oyster sauce https://amzn.to/31rXauO
- 2 teaspoon – hoisin sauce
- 2 tablespoon – granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon – cornstarch
- 3 tablespoon – water
- 1 ½ cups (100g) – soy curls, see notes https://amzn.to/3kPlmik
- 2 teaspoons, Better Than Bouillon vegetable paste https://amzn.to/3jbq3kW
- 2 cups hot water, or as needed
- ¼ yellow onion, diced
- Stand-mixer, optional https://amzn.to/3aBRYaA
- Measuring cups or food scale https://amzn.to/2YglTjC
- Measuring spoons
- Mixing bowls
- Fine mesh strainer
- Medium saucepan
- 2 Large pan or pot, to cook the filling and to fit the steamer basket
- Wooden spoon
- Rolling pin
- Bench scraper or knife
- Parchment paper
- Baking sheet
- Damp cloth
- Steamer basket, see notes https://amzn.to/2Q8ABEM
- Cooling rack
Start making the dough:
- In a small bowl, add in warm water and 1 teaspoon of sugar, and mix until the sugar has been dissolved. Then mix in the yeast, and set aside to activate for 10 minutes. It should get foamy and frothy.
- In the bowl of a stand-mixer, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and granulated sugar.
- When the yeast is done activating, add it to the large bowl with the dry ingredients, along with the oil. With the dough hook attachment, on the lowest speed, allow it to mix the ingredients together until it starts forming a shaggy dough. Increase speed to 2 and continue to knead for 10-12 minutes. You should get a smooth and supple dough. Not too sticky and bounces back when you press it.
- Transfer it to a work surface (you do not need to add flour to the work surface, the dough is not that sticky), and shape it into a round taut ball. Gather the ends of the dough to the middle, and pinch them together. Flip it over with the seam side down and use your hands to move it around in a circle. Tucking the dough underneath itself, pull their tops taut.
- Place the shaped dough into a large lightly oiled bowl (or just use the same stand mixer bowl). Cover with a damp cloth or plastic and set it in a warm spot. Allow it to rise for 1-2 hours, or until doubled in size.
- In a small bowl, mix together the soy sauce, vegan oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, and sugar. Then in another small bowl, mix together 3 tablespoons of water and cornstarch until dissolved. Set these aside.
- Prepare the soy curls. Break up the dried soy curls into smaller pieces. (This will help when you start filling it in the buns.) In a medium saucepan mix in the vegetable bouillon paste with 2 cups of water, bring it up to a boil and remove from heat. Add in the dried soy curls to the saucepan and with a spoon, make sure that every piece is covered with water. Set aside and allow the soy curls to rehydrate for 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes, strain the soy curls through a fine-mesh strainer and use a spoon to gently push on the soy curls to squeeze out the excess broth. Save the broth for something else! Set the soy curls aside.
- Heat up some oil in a large pot or pan over medium heat. Add in the onions and garlic, and continue cooking until the garlic is fragrant the onions are translucent, about 3 minutes.
- Then add in the soy curls, along with the sauce, to the pan. Mix it all together and make sure that all soy curls are covered. Next, add in the cornstarch and water mixture, you might have to stir it up again before adding it in. Mix everything together and continue to cook until the sauce starts to thicken, about 3 minutes.
- Transfer the filling in a large bowl and set it aside to cool.
- When the dough has doubled in size, punch down the dough to release the gases. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface. With a rolling pin, flatten the dough and into a rough 20×16-inch rectangle. Then, gently fold the dough in half on the short side (16-inch side), and roll it out again into a 20×16-inch rectangle. Repeat this for the 3rd time.
- Then roll it up into a cylinder (like rolling up a cinnamon roll), and cut the dough into 12 pieces (the sides will have a spiral pattern due to the folding).
- Then with the rolling pin, roll the dough into 4-inches in diameter, then flattening the edges so that they are thinner than the center of the dough. Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough.
- Take a piece of dough, place a heaping tablespoon of filling in the center. Wrap the filling by bringing the dough up around to the top. Then slightly twisting the dough to close it and pinching it firmly to join the edges. Make sure that the sauce does not touch the edges, otherwise, it will not seal properly. Repeat for the remaining dough. You can also challenge yourself to pleat it the traditional way, I just found that this was easier to do.
- Place the buns on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and cover with a damp tea towel and rest for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, line the steamer basket with parchment paper. Prep a large pan with 1-inch of water, and bring it to a simmer. Working in batches, place the dough in the bamboo steamer, make sure not to overcrowd. Leave enough space in between as it will puff up in size. Set the steamer over the pan, and steam for 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes, turn off the heat and let the buns rest inside the steamer for 5 minutes. Do NOT Remove the cover/lid. This is very important because if you remove the cover too early, the buns will collapse and lose their fluffy shape!
- Carefully remove the bao from the steamer and set it onto a wire cooling rack. Continue cooking the rest. Serve and enjoy!
- You can sub the soy curls for any other mock meat you prefer. Though the results may vary.
- If you do not have a bamboo steamer basket, you can use a steamer pot. But make sure to wrap the pot cover with a towel and tie it up. The condensation that comes from the pot cover can drip onto the buns and it can ruin them.
Keywords: vegan, filipino, entree, snack, recipe, siopao, asado, filipino recipe, vegan recipe, steamed bun