Vietnamese Steamed Buns are called Bánh Bao in Vietnamese. It is a Vietnamese appetizer or snack eaten mostly for breakfast. The dough is airy with a slight crunch like sausage skin in texture and slightly sweet in flavor while the filling is slightly salty. The traditional Bánh Bao is filled with marinated ground meat, egg, Chinese dried mushroom (black fungus), clear or glass noodles, Chinese sausage, and spices.
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Below I have Vietnamese Steamed Bun Recipe with two versions. The first version is used with the packaged steamed bun flour and the second version is for making your own steamed bun flour.
Dough Ingredients with packaged Bánh bao flour:
- 1 bag of steamed bun flour (this flour packet has yeast mixed in)
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 cup of milk or water
- 1 tbsp of vegetable oil
- 1 tsp of lime juice or lemon juice
- ¾ lb ground meat (pork, chicken, or turkey)
- 6 tbsps black fungus (soak for 10 to 15 minutes or until soft, rinse and finely chop) (optional)
- ½ cup chopped vermicelli bean threads or clear noodles (Bún Tàu) – soaked in hot water for 10 to 15 minutes to soften the noodles
- 1 ½ tbsp oyster sauce
- 1 tsp fish sauce
- 1 tsp salt
- Sprinkle of pepper
- 2 Chinese Sausages, cut into 16 or 32 thin slices
- 2 boiled eggs, cut each into 8 pieces or 16 quail eggs
- 16 pieces of 2×2 inch paper using parchment paper or wax paper
Put aside 1 tablespoon of flour in a small bowl for later use. Pour the remaining flour into a mixing bowl. Mix sugar and flour. Mix in the first ½ cup of milk or water. Knead and slowly pour in the remaining milk or water until the flour forms dough.
You should use the palm or the heel of your hand to push forward on the dough. Knead for 15 minutes. Add the oil and the lime/lemon juice and knead it for another 10 minutes. The dough should be soft and should not stick to your hands. It is possible to have a little bit of liquid left from the 1 cup of milk or water (1 to 2 tablespoons).
If your dough is sticky and wet after the kneading, add a little more flour to absorb the liquid. Cover the mixing bowl with a cloth or a towel to prevent the dough from drying out. Leave it somewhere warm (like the oven) and let it rise for about ½ an hour to 45 minutes.
Warning: If you place it in the oven, don’t forget to take the dough out before you plan to cook any cookies or cakes. I forgot it once and my dough didn’t turn out so well.
While waiting for the dough to rise, prepare the filling.
Mix the ground meat, fungus, bean threads, oyster sauce, salt, and pepper.
The fungus is optional because my kids do not like any kind of mushrooms. Mix well and divide the meat into 16 balls. Rub your hands with a little oil while making the meatballs so that the meat won’t stick to your hands.
Divide the dough into 16 equal segments. Roll out each dough ball but not too thin. Use the extra flour that we set aside earlier to prevent the dough from sticking. Put a meatball in the center of the dough. Add 1 or 2 pieces of sausages and 1 piece of egg. Bring the edges of the dough together covering the filling. Make sure all parts of the filling is covered. Pinch the flour edges together with a slight twist so that they stick together making sure you can no longer see the filling. Place the bun on a piece of 2×2 parchment paper.
Fill the bottom steamer with 4 to 5 cups of water and bring it to boil. Add 1 tbsp of vinegar to make the buns whiter. Arrange buns on the pan layers of the steamer with holes. Leave space between each bun to allow them to rise. Steam the buns when the water is boiling.
Place a hand towel on top of the top layer steamer and close the lid. Make sure the towel completely covers the opening of the top steamer. The towel absorbs the steam moisture from dripping on the buns and secure the lid for a tight close. Steam for 20 minutes. The buns are ready to serve. Serve 16 buns.
Bánh Bao using regular flour Ingredients for the Dough:
Yields: 12 buns
- 1 cup milk
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 packet active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp)
- 2 cups cake flour
- 1 cup bread flour
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 lb ground pork (or any ground meat of your choice)
- 1/2 cup yellow onions, finely chopped
- 1/3 cup wood ear mushrooms, finely chopped (soaked for 10 to 15 minutes in hot water)
- 1 Tbsp oyster sauce
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 tsp cornstarch
- 3 Chinese sausage links
- 3 large eggs or 12 quail eggs hard-boiled
- 3-inch parchment/wax paper
- 1/4 cup white vinegar
Preheat oven to 150-170 degrees Fahrenheit. When it comes to temperature, turn off the oven.
Warm the milk in the microwave for 30 seconds, 45 seconds if the milk is cold. Add 1/2 tsp sugar and active dry yeast to the warmed milk. Stir together for 1 minute. Let the mixture rest for 10 minutes until foamy.
In a mixing bowl, combine the bread flour and cake flour. Take 1 Tbsp of the flour mixture and combine it with the baking powder. Set aside for now. Add the remaining sugar to the flour mixture and stir together. Stir the milk and yeast mixture and add to the mixing bowl along with the vegetable oil.
Use a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment to combine the ingredients. Mix on low speed for 2 minutes. Increase the speed to Medium-Low and mix for another 2 minutes. Add the flour and baking powder mixture prepared earlier and mix for another minute.
Remove the dough from the stand mixer and gently knead by hand for 2-3 minutes. Place dough into a large bowl. Coat the dough with a thin layer of vegetable oil. Cover the bowl with a large kitchen towel and then place it into the warm oven. Let the dough rest for 1 hour.
Filling and shaping the bánh bao:
In a medium bowl, combine all of the ingredients for the filling (except the sausage and eggs). Roll into 12 balls. Lightly flour the work surface. Gently knead the dough for a few minutes. Divide the dough and then roll into 12 even-sized balls. Cover the dough balls with a damp paper towel and let them rest for 10 minutes.
Cut each hard-boiled egg into 4 pieces. Cut each Chinese sausage link into 12 thin slices at a diagonal. Set aside for now.
Generously flour the work surface again. Take one of the dough balls and flatten to a 5-inch circle using a rolling pin. Flatten the edge of the circle so it’s thinner than the middle. Place the dough on the work surface. On top of the dough add 2 slices of sausage and then the filling ball. Top with one piece of egg and another sausage slice.
Pleat the dough around the bun while pinching it together at the top making sure to cover the filling completely. Twist the top of the bun to secure it. Pat the bun to round out the shape. Place each bun on the 3×3 parchment paper. Continue making the buns until all 12 are made. Place the buns into the steamer trays making sure to leave about 1-inch between each bun.
Prepare the steamer by filling the bottom basin halfway with water. Add 1/4 cup white vinegar to the water and then bring to a rapid boil over high heat. Add the steamer trays. Wipe the moisture from the lid before replacing it. Lower the heat to Medium-High and steam the buns for 10 minutes. Carefully remove the lid and wipe out the moisture again. Cover and continue steaming for another 10 minutes. (Total steaming time is 20 minutes.)
Remove the buns from the steamer. Allow cooling slightly before enjoying it.
These buns can be reheated in a steamer or microwave. To warm in a microwave, wrap a bun in a moistened paper towel and cook on High for 30 seconds. If the inside is still cold, heat again for another 30 seconds.
Store any uneaten buns in the refrigerator. They are best if consumed within the week. Buns can be frozen for up to 2 months.
Enjoy!!! If you bump into questions or comments, please leave them below.