Vietnamese Bánh Bao Recipe

Prep time: 1 hour
Cook time: 80 minutes
Servings: Makes 28 banh bao

Ingredients:

For the banh bao filling: 

  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 2 small shallots
  • 1/2 cup diced yellow onion
  • 1/2 cup steamed sweet peas
  • 1/2 cup black fungus
  • 1/2 cup minced carrots
  • 4 dried shitake mushrooms
  • 28 pieces of Chinese sausages (Mai Que Lo brand)
  • 28 quail eggs or 7 regular eggs
  • 2 Tbsp oyster sauce
  • 2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

For the banh bao dough:

  • 2 bags of Four Elephant brand or the Red Rooster brand
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cup (lowfat) room temperature milk
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil

Notes to remember whenever I make this: 

  • I tested several Vietnamese banh bao flour mix and my family loves the Red Rooster brand the best and then the Four Elephant brand next. The Red Rooster brand is made in Australia and hard to find. I hoarded two dozen bags from a market in Carollton, Texas when I visited my family. Must use milk at room temperature or warm milk for this dough to rise during steaming.
  • With the Kitchen Aid standing mixer with the dough mixer attachment (the hook shape); knead dough at Speed 2 until flour, sugar, and milk are blended.  Then add oil and knead for 8 minutes. Last, knead by hand for two minutes.
  • For my double layer steam pot, steam only one tray or layer at a time. Do NOT steam banh bao with both trays at the same time.  The tray fits 7 banh bao at a time.
  • Remember to wipe the condensed water under the lid after 10 minutes and steam banh bao for 20 minutes.
  • Use Mai Que Lo’s premium Chinese sausages because it’s made in the USA and the best.  The imported cheap brands taste rubbery and hard like a rock.
  • After several tries, I find ground pork butt is the best option to make a moist meaty filling. The lean ground pork makes the meat filling dry and just not easy to chew for the kids.

Direction:

1. Prep the filling: Image below is breakdown of measurements for the meat filling per bag of banh bao flour used.  Soak the shittake mushrooms in warm water until it expands fully and then chop it into fine pieces.  Peel and shop carrots.  Thaw the cooked frozen sweet peas.  Boil the quail eggs for 5 minutes and soak it in cold water while peeling the shell. If using regular eggs instead, cut each egg into 4 pieces. Minced the shallots and diced the yellow onion.  I forgot the black fungus this time. My mom said she doesn’t put carrots, but I like the color orange.

2.  Season the ground pork with the minced shallots, black pepper, 2 tsp sugar, and 2 Tbsp oyster sauce.

3.  Mix the seasoned ground meat with the diced onions, shitake mushrooms, black fungus, carrots, and sweet peas.

4. Divide the pork fillings into 14 balls.  Store in fridge until ready to use.

Note: I put too much peas and carrots the first time. This picture shows how the meatballs look like the second time I made it making sure to use steamed sweet peas.

5.  Prep the dough:  Empty the bag of banh bao flour into a large mixing bowl.  Reserve about 1.5 tablespoon of the flour to use for rolling out the dough later.

6.  Kneading the dough by hand / standing mixer
First time, I kneaded the dough by hand.  Add the sugar and milk into the flour.  Knead the dough for 15 minutes. Then add 1 Tbsp of oil and continue kneading for another 10 minutes.
Second time making banh bao, I tried the KitchenAid Artisan 5 quart standing mixer with the dough hook.  I find the easiest way is to mix the flour, sugar, milk, and oil by hand until the ingredients are blended, then use the standing mixer to knead the dough for about 5 to 8 minutes.  Then knead the dough again for about 2 more minutes so my daughter can have some fun with it.

7. Place a towel over the bowl to cover the dough. I placed the covered dough in the oven for 30 minutes. Plate is not needed. My mom said this Four Elephant flour mix will not rise much.

8.  Use mini cupcake liners or cut out round pieces of paper from coffee filters.  This will be used to place the banh bao on.

9.  After thirty minutes, take the dough out and divide it into 14 balls.  Mom said to knead a minute and roll each dough ball until it is smooth and round. At this time, I fill the steamer with water and started to heat up the water. (Add 1 tablespoon of vinegar into the water to make the banh bao white.  I didn’t do this because my mom said it gives the banh bao a funny smell.)

10.  Forming the banh bao: Then roll it out about five inches wide.  Put the meat filling, a piece of Chinese sausage, and a quail egg in the center.  Gather the dough up to the center top, pinch, and twist to seal the dough.  Place the banh bao on the coffee paper cut outs and in the steamer tray.

11.  Steaming: My steamer has two trays or layers.  Steam only one layer or tray at a time for 15 minutes. Then wipe the condensed water from the lid.  Cover and continue steaming for another 5 to 7 minutes.

12.  Transfer banh bao onto cooling rack.  Enjoy!
Storage: When banh bao are cooled, wrap it with saran wrap and put it in ziplock bags.  Store in fridge within for up to a week or two OR store in the freezer.  Reheat for 30 seconds in the microwave.  If frozen, thaw and reheat.

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