Thin bread, filled with good meat!
Mom has been recently regularly eating siopao for merienda (snack) for the past few times we’ve been out together. Though it’s not expensive, around P40 ($0.90) each, I figured that freshly made is always better. I have nothing against those food companies that make them either, but if I can make it, it’s bound to be cheaper for sure.
Siopao is of Chinese origin. It’s a soft bun filled with various things like meat, chicken, fish, vegetables. There are others like it, but of the open sandwich variety, which are then called cuapao. Then the puto pao are totally different things, more of the Filipino puto made out of rice flour, but still filled with the same goodness. Then of course, for the siopao, you have the asado (in sauce?), bola bola (meat balls), then the special which usually is asado with a slice of salted duck egg inside.
Water and yeast
I remember already making this when I was younger, with my cousin, ate Cleng, who now resides in the Niles, Illinois. I have no idea how we started with the recipe, because at that time, I didn’t even eat siopao. I had no clue as to what it was supposed to taste like, that you can prepare a sauce for it, etc. I just remember watching the dough rise, and having to prepare paper to go underneat the siopao.
Wet slush
I looked up mom’s cookbooks for a recipe and discovered it was even simpler than I thought it was. The dough consisted of flour, sugar, water, yeast and a bit of shortening or lard. That’s it. Though the instructions called for were different (mixing in a bit of the flour, all of the sugar, yeast and water), I decided to go my usual route of mixing the water, sugar and yeast first (without the flour). For so many times I have used “dead” yeast, I was keen on ensuring that my yeast will come up frothy before mixing in the flour. Fortunately, it did. So I mixed in a bit of the flour soon after. This became the wet slush above, which was allowed to rise for almost an hour.
Grown wet slushy
Then after rising, some shortening and the rest of the flour was added to the mix. This became the dough. More of the shortening was added while kneading the dough, which was very easy because it was still considered a somewhat soft dough.
Moving over to the filling, I cooked ground pork with a bit of sugar, soy sauce, and water. It was boiled thoroughly until cooked. The cookbook suggested that the meat be removed from the sauce, and the sauce served seperately. But I want my siopao juicy. So I temporarily removed the meat, adjusted the sauce with honey, more water and soy sauce, a bit of the pepper, and added cornstarch to thicken it. It was cooled while I prepared the dough.
The filling
I did only half of the recipe (a way of averting disasters) and will be coming up with only a dozen of the regular sized siopao. I divided the dough into 12 small pieces, and began to make tiny pizza crusts by pulling on it gently. I kinda destroyed the first two I made having pulled it too much, making a too thin dough that broke with the addition of the meat. The sauce from the meat made it impossible to stick the dough together, so I stole more dough from the other pieces to cover up the holes.  A piece of (clean bond) paper cut up into squares served as the paper for the siopao.
Prepping the dough
The dough was made to rise again for 30 minutes after it was filled up and then steamed for 30 minutes afterwards. The result? Brilliant, if i say so myself. There were some pieces of dough that were incredibly thin (see first picture above) but it was alright. Should have used a thicken part of the bun on top. 🙂
Going to fill up the buns
Siopao Recipe
1/2 kilo of pork, 1/8 cup soy sauce, 1/4 cup water, 1 tbsp sugar, 2 tbsp cornstarch, 1 onion diced, 1/4 cup honey
Mix the soy sauce, water and sugar. Taste and adjust to seasoning. Add the onion and the meat and cook over medium fire. Once the meat is cooked, remove the meat from the sauce. I added the same amount of  soy sauce, sugar, water plus the honey to make sauce and cooked it down. The cornstarch came in last to thicken the sauce almost to a thick custard consistency. Mix in meat again to make a saucy filling. Cool.
2 1/4 cups of flour, 3/4 cups of lukewarm water, 1 1/2 tsp of yeast, 1 tbsp sugar, 1/8 cup shortening/lard
Mix the water, yeast and sugar and check if it becomes frothy after a couple of minutes. Add half of the flour and mix to make the wet slush. Let rise for 40 minutes. Add the most of the leftover flour, slowly, also gradually adding in half of the shortening. While kneading, add the rest of the flour alternating with the rest of the shortening. Divide the dough into 12 pieces and roll them into balls.
One at a time, flatten the dough into mini pizza disks and put in about a tablespoon of the filling. Grab the edges and wquish them all together in one point to seal the bread. Place a piece of paper on the sealed end. Do all of the dough pieces. Set aside for 30 minutes to rise, before steaming for another 30 minutes to cook. Good served hot. You may keep this in the freezer to make it last longer. Steam again before serving.
Filled buns

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