Better than takeout, crispy bottom Shanghai pan-fried pork buns are crispy and golden on the outside, yet fluffy, airy and chewy on the inside with a savoury and juicy pork and spring onion filling inside. Serve this popular Chinese dim sum snack at home with a homemade vinegar dipping sauce or spicy chili oil.
What are Shanghai Pan-Fried Pork Buns?
Crispy bottom Shanghai pan-fried pork buns, also known as shengjian bao or baozi 生煎包 , is a popular Chinese breakfast or snack food (dim sum). It is a specialty of the city of Shanghai. These buns are first fried to give them their iconic golden and crispy bottoms, and then steamed to cook the filling inside, giving them their soft and super fluffy texture inside. They are made with a yeast dough and are typically filled with pork and spring onions inside.
Ingredients in Shanghai Pan-Fried Pork Buns
Here is what you will need to make these Shanghai pork buns:
- bun dough - made with all-purpose flour, instant yeast, sugar, baking powder, and water.
- ground pork
- spring onions
- fresh ginger
- soy sauce
- sesame oil
- Shaoxing cooking wine
- white pepper
- black pepper - optional.
- vegetable oil and water - for pan frying the buns.
- garnish toppings - black sesame seeds and spring onions.
- vinegar dipping sauce - made with black vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil and green onions.
How to Make the Best Crispy Bottom Shanghai Pan-Fried Pork Buns
First, prepare the filling by combining all the filling ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Use a spatula to mix well and evenly, blending the ingredients together. Cover the bowl with cling wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour until the dough is ready for assembling.
Then, prepare the bun dough. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, yeast, sugar, baking powder, salt and water. Mix well to combine with a spatula, until the mixture forms into a dough. Make sure to scrape off any remaining dry flour on the sides of the bowl.
Knead the dough with your hands (or stand mixer) until the dough becomes smooth and soft, about 10 minutes. This is a 60% hydration dough (water to flour ratio) and it should be fairly easy to handle. Form the dough into a ball and place it back into the bowl. Cover the bowl with a chopping board or cling wrap. Let the dough sit at room temperature for one hour, or until it rises and doubles in size. Once risen, knead the dough for a few minutes to get rid of any air bubbles.
Transfer dough onto a floured surface and roll into a log. Divide the log into 15 even pieces and roll into balls by cupping them into your palm and making circular motions. Flatten and roll each dough ball out into a 3-inch circle with a small rolling pin. Note that the centre should be slightly thicker than the edges.
How to Fold Crispy Bottom Buns
Add a tablespoon filling into the centre of the rolled out dough. Bring the edges of the dough up, enclosing the filling inside. Seal the filling inside by pleating the edges together with your finger.
Turn the buns over with the pleated side down (the top side should be smooth) and place on a parchment-lined tray or plate. Cover with a tea towel and let them rest for another 20 minutes to allow the dough to rise a bit more (not double in size).
How to Pan Fry Crispy Bottom Buns
- In a large skillet, heat oil over medium high heat for 2 minutes. Place buns with the pleated side facing down. Make sure to place buns approximately ½ inch apart to prevent them from sticking together. (You may have to cook in 2 batches if your skillet is not large enough). Cook for 2 minutes until the bottom turns golden brown and crispy. Make sure to place buns approximately ½ inch apart to prevent them from sticking together.
- Add a cup of cold water into the pan. The water should start sizzling and bubbling immediately. Make sure the water is about ½-inch deep and covers about half of the buns’ height. Cover with the lid and continue to cook for 8-10 minutes until almost all the water is evaporated.
- Remove the lid and lower the heat to medium. Cook for another 2 minutes until all water has been absorbed and the bottom is crispy brown. Sprinkle sesame seeds and green onions on top.
How to Serve Crispy Bottom Pork Buns
Serve these crispy bottom pan-fried Shanghai pork buns hot with a side of vinegar dipping sauce or spicy chili oil. To make the dipping sauce, combine black vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, and green onions in a small bowl and stir to combine.
FAQ and Tips on Making Shanghai Pork Buns
- Can you customize the filling? Absolutely. There are endless ways that you can customize the filling. You can use different protein such as ground beef or chicken, and other types of vegetables such as beans sprouts or chives.
- Can I use dry active yeast instead of instant yeast? Yes, you will just need to adjust the first step slightly. Rather than mixing together all the dough ingredients, first combine the active yeast with the water. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes to activate it (it should get bubbly and frothy). Then, combine the rest of the dough ingredients in a large bowl and pour in the yeast mixture to combine. Continue on with the recipe as instructed.
- How long do crispy bottom buns last? You can store them in an airtight container for up to 3 days in the refrigerator. You can reheat in the oven or in the air fryer.
- Can you freeze crispy bottom buns? Yes, these Shanghai buns freeze beautifully. Place uncooked buns in a single later on a parchment-lined baking tray and place in the freezer for one hour. Once they are relatively frozen, transfer to an airtight container or freezer bag. This method prevents them from sticking together initially.
More Dim Sum Recipes
- Crispy Bottom Pan-Fried Vegetable Buns
- Shanghai Style Vegan Steamed Buns
- Crispy Fried Vegetarian Spring Rolls
- Spicy Chili Oil Wontons
- Egg and Chive Vegetarian Dumplings
- Savoury Chive Pancakes with Sourdough Starter
- Chicken and Cilantro Wontons
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