Carrot Ginger Pork Buns, Two Ways (Bao Zi, 胡萝卜肉包子)

carrot ginger buns

Before we start, I’d like to give you a glimpse into the future.

In the future, you’re lifting the cover off of a pan and seeing the plump, happy, soft Chinese buns that you’ve just made with your own two hands. You did it, and it wasn’t that difficult at all. It was, in fact, easy. A feeling of complete amazement and a huge sense of personal accomplishment overwhelms you. You go about the rest of your day patting yourself on the back for your brilliance. For you can now make baozi.

Now that you’ve seen the future, you must give this recipe a try. From making the dough, to the filling, to the buns themselves, you can really achieve a big batch of perfect steamed or pan-fried baozi, or buns, in a matter of two hours. These buns can be easily frozen and cooked later, whenever the mood for baozi strikes.

This particular recipe for Carrot Ginger Pork Buns, is…I have to say…one of the best fillings we’ve ever tried. The sweetness of the carrot, combined with the pork and the ginger is just heavenly. Making the dough is no more difficult than assembling a pizza dough. But here’s a tip: we knew someone—a lady from China, no less—who used to make baozi using store bought Pillsbury biscuit dough. This lends your baozi a rich, buttery flavor that isn’t traditional, but actually isn’t half bad. We really prefer to make our own dough, but you can try the Pillsbury method if you’re feeling lazy.

In other news, today is the 1-year anniversary of our blog! Twelve months ago today, we joined the food blogging community and began this entire family adventure. These carrot ginger pork buns are truly worthy of a celebratory anniversary post. If you have a spare couple of hours, make them!

Carrot Ginger Pork Buns, Two Ways by thewoksoflife.com

Step 1: Make the Dough: Makes about 15 large or 30 small

  • 5 grams instant yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 ½ cups lukewarm water
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling

In a large mixing bowl or mixer with a dough hook attachment, completely dissolve yeast and sugar in the lukewarm water. Add the flour and knead for about 15 minutes. The dough should be pretty soft and not too firm. If it seems dry, add a little more water. Cover the mixing bowl with a damp kitchen towel and let it proof one hour.

Carrot Ginger Pork Buns, Two Ways by thewoksoflife.com

While it’s proofing, make the filling:

Step 2: Make the filling

Combine the following and mix for a few minutes, until the meat mixture resembles a fine paste, then set aside:

  • 1 cup ground pork
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons cooking oil
  • ¼ teaspoon white pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Carrot Ginger Pork Buns, Two Ways by thewoksoflife.com

Heat a couple tablespoons of oil in a pan over medium heat and cook the grated carrots for a few minutes until they turn color (they shouldn’t be mushy. Cook just until they’re not raw anymore). Let cool completely.

  • 3 large carrots, finely grated (about 4 cups)
  • 3 tablespoons oil

Grated Carrot | thewoksoflife.com

Carrot Ginger Pork Buns, Two Ways by thewoksoflife.com

Combine the pork mixture, the cooked carrots, and the following ingredients. Mix for a couple minutes, until the entire mixture resembles a paste.

  • 1 cup finely chopped scallion
  • 2 teaspoons finely minced or grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon shaoxing wine

Carrot Ginger Pork Buns, Two Ways by thewoksoflife.com

Carrot Ginger Pork Buns, Two Ways by thewoksoflife.com

Carrot Ginger Pork Buns, Two Ways by thewoksoflife.com

Carrot Ginger Pork Buns, Two Ways by thewoksoflife.com

Step 3: Assemble the baozi

After the dough has finished proofing, turn it out on a clean surface dusted with flour. Knead for 2 minutes to get ride of any air pockets. Roll the dough into a long tube and rip off chunks of dough to make individual dough balls. They should be about the size of a golf ball for larger buns, and about half that size for smaller buns.

Take each dough ball, and with a rolling pin, roll from the edge towards the center, without actually rolling the center of the dough too much. The goal is to flatten the dough into a round circle with a thinner edge and thicker center. The difference in thickness should be about 1:2.

Carrot Ginger Pork Buns, Two Ways by thewoksoflife.com

Add some filling to the center of each disk (about 1 ½ tablespoons for the larger buns and 2 teaspoons for the smaller ones).

You can start with a smaller amount of filling until you get the hang of the folding. As illustrated in the video below, the buns are folded with one hand holding the skin and filling, and the other hand pleating the edges of the dough disk like an accordion. As you fold, the goal is to make it all the way around the circle, until you’ve sealed it at the top. You’ll be making about 10-15 folds. That’s it!

Folding Baozi – The Woks of Life from The Woks of Life on Vimeo.

Once the top is closed, a bun is born. Lay the buns on a floured surface while you finish assembling them.

Carrot Ginger Pork Buns, Two Ways by thewoksoflife.com

Carrot Ginger Pork Buns, Two Ways by thewoksoflife.com

Once assembled, let the buns proof under a clean kitchen towel for another 15 minutes before cooking or freezing.

To freeze, lay the buns on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and put the baking sheet in the freezer. Once the buns are frozen, transfer them to a Ziploc bag, press out as much air as you can from the bag, and freeze for up to two months. To cook, just follow the directions below as if you were cooking them fresh. The cooking times will just be a little longer!

Step 4: Cook!

There are 2 ways to cook your baozi: steaming and pan-frying, or “sheng jian.” Both are delicious.

To steam:

I used a double-leveled bamboo steamer. You can use whatever steaming apparatus you normally use (we also have one of these metal multi-level steamers at home), but there are a few things to remember:

  1. Boiling water should not directly touch the buns during steaming.
  2. Avoid sticking by brushing oil onto the surface the bun sits on or by laying down some kind of natural nonstick surface. In our case, we used corn husks, cut into little squares. Thin napa cabbage leaves will work too. If using a bamboo steamer, brush the sides of the steamer with oil, as the buns expand and might stick to the sides.
  3. The surface that the buns sit on should not be solid, like a plate for example. This will trap moisture and make the buns soggy. There should be some cross-ventilation.
  4. Make sure the lid is tight so you don’t lose any steam.

Start with cold water, and put your pork buns on the steamer. Turn on the heat to medium. Set the timer for 12-15 minutes for smaller buns and 15-20 minutes for the larger ones. To see if the buns are cooked, press the buns lightly with your finger. If the dough immediately bounces back, they’re done. Keep a close eye on them. Over-steaming will cause the buns to collapse, so cooking time is important.

Carrot Ginger Pork Buns, Two Ways by thewoksoflife.com

Once they’re done, turn off the heat, keep the lid on, and let the buns “rest” for about 2 minutes before taking them out. Then eat!

Carrot Ginger Pork Buns, Two Ways by thewoksoflife.com

Carrot Ginger Pork Buns, Two Ways by thewoksoflife.com

Carrot Ginger Pork Buns, Two Ways by thewoksoflife.com

To pan-fry:

You’ll need:

  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • ¼ cup water
  • a small handful of finely chopped scallion (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons of toasted sesame seeds (optional)

Pre-heat a flat-bottomed cast-iron or other seasoned pan over medium heat. Add the oil and swirl it around the pan to coat it evenly. Add the buns to the pan.

Carrot Ginger Pork Buns, Two Ways by thewoksoflife.com

Let them cook for a few minutes until the bottoms turn golden brown.

Carrot Ginger Pork Buns, Two Ways by thewoksoflife.com

Once golden, add the water to the pan and immediately cover with a lid. Turn the heat down to medium low and let the buns steam for 7-10 minutes until all the water is evaporated.

Uncover the lid, and toss the buns around with scallion and sesame seeds. Done!

Carrot Ginger Pork Buns, Two Ways by thewoksoflife.com

Carrot Ginger Pork Buns, Two Ways by thewoksoflife.com Carrot Ginger Pork Buns, Two Ways by thewoksoflife.com

A final note: the best dipping concoction ever: 

We didn’t serve these buns with Chinese vinegar or soy sauce. We served them with our own toasted chili and garlic oil. Raw garlic may not be your thing, but it is here in Beijing, and for good reason. It’s so good with dumplings and baozi!

Chili Garlic Oil by thewoksoflife.com

Carrot Ginger Pork Buns, Two Ways by thewoksoflife.com

Carrot Ginger Pork Buns, Two Ways by thewoksoflife.com

Carrot Ginger Pork Buns, Two Ways by thewoksoflife.com


CARROT GINGER PORK BUNS, TWO WAYS

Prep Time: 1 hour, 40 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours

Yield: 15 large buns or 30 small buns

CARROT GINGER PORK BUNS, TWO WAYS

Ingredients

For the dough:
5 grams instant yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 ½ cups lukewarm water
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
For the filling (the pork):
1 cup ground pork
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
3 tablespoons oil
¼ teaspoon white pepper
¼ teaspoon salt
For the rest of the filling:
3 large carrots, finely grated (about 4)
3 tablespoons oil
1 cup finely chopped scallion
2 teaspoons grated ginger
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon shaoxing wine
If pan-frying the buns, you'll also need:
2 tablespoons oil
¼ cup water
a small handful of finely chopped scallion (optional)
2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds (optional)

Step 1: Make the Dough: Makes about 15 large or 30 small

For this step, you need: 5 grams instant yeast, 1 teaspoon sugar, 1 ½ cups lukewarm water, and 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling.

In a large mixing bowl or mixer with a dough hook attachment, completely dissolve yeast and sugar in the lukewarm water. Add the flour and knead for about 15 minutes. The dough should be pretty soft and not too firm. If it seems dry, add a little more water. Cover the mixing bowl with a damp kitchen towel and let it proof one hour. While it’s proofing, make the filling:

Step 2: Make the filling

Combine the following and mix for a few minutes, until the meat mixture resembles a fine paste, then set aside: 1 cup ground pork, 1 teaspoon sesame oil, 1 tablespoon light soy sauce, 3 tablespoons oil, ¼ teaspoon ground white pepper, ¼ teaspoon salt.

Then heat a couple tablespoons of oil in a pan over medium heat and cook the grated carrots (4 cups) for a few minutes until they turn color (they shouldn’t be mushy. Cook until they’re just not raw anymore). Let cool completely.

Combine the pork mixture, the cooked carrots, and the following ingredients: 1 cup chopped scallion, 2 teaspoons grated ginger, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon sesame oil, and 1 teaspoon shaoxing wine. Mix for a couple minutes, until the entire mixture resembles a paste.

Step 3: Assemble the baozi

After the dough has finished proofing, turn it out on a clean surface dusted with flour. Knead for 2 minutes to get ride of any air pockets. Roll the dough into a long tube and rip off chunks of dough to make individual dough balls. They should be about the size of a golf ball for larger buns, and about half that size for smaller buns.

Take each dough ball, and with a rolling pin, roll from the edge towards the center, without actually rolling the center of the dough. The goal is to flatten the dough into a round circle with a thinner edge and thicker center. The difference in thickness should be about 1:2. Add some filling to the center of each disk (about 1 ½ tablespoons for the larger buns and 2 teaspoons for the smaller ones).

You can start with a smaller amount of filling until you get the hang of the folding. The buns are folded with one hand holding the skin and filling, and the other hand pleating the edges of the dough disk like an accordion. As you fold, the goal is to make it all the way around the circle, until you’ve sealed it at the top. You’ll be making about 10-15 folds. Lay the buns on a floured surface while you finish assembling them. Once assembled, let the buns proof under a clean kitchen towel for another 15 minutes before cooking or freezing.

To freeze, lay the buns on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and put the baking sheet in the freezer. Once the buns are frozen, transfer them to a Ziploc bag, press out as much air as you can from the bag, and freeze for up to two months (to be honest, they'll even last longer than that). To cook, just follow the directions below as if you were cooking them fresh. The cooking times will just be a little longer!

Step 4: Cook!

There are 2 ways to cook your baozi: steaming and pan-frying, or “sheng jian.”

To steam:

I used a double-leveled bamboo steamer. You can use whatever steaming apparatus you normally use, but remember: 1) Boiling water should not directly touch the buns during steaming 2) Avoid sticking by brushing oil on the surface the bun sits on or by laying down some kind of natural nonstick surface. In our case, we used corn husks. Thin napa cabbage leaves will work too. If using a bamboo steamer, brush the sides of the steamer with oil, as the buns expand and might stick to the sides. 3) The surface that the buns sit on should not be solid, like a plate. This will trap moisture and make the buns soggy. There should be some aeration going on. 4) Make sure the lid is tight so you don’t lose any steam.

Start with cold water, and put your buns on the steamer. Turn on the heat to medium. Set the timer for 12-15 minutes for smaller buns and 15-20 minutes for the larger ones. To see if the buns are cooked, press the buns lightly with your finger. If the surface of the dough bounces right back, then they’re done. Keep a close eye on them. Over steaming will cause the buns to collapse, so cooking time is important.

Turn off the heat, keep the lid on, and let the buns “rest” for about 2 minutes before taking them out and eating.

To pan-fry:

Pre-heat a flat-bottomed cast-iron or other seasoned pan over medium heat. Add a couple tablespoons oil and swirl around the pan to coat it evenly. Add the buns to the pan, and let them cook for a few minutes until the bottoms turn golden brown. Once golden, add about 1/4 cup water to the pan and immediately cover with a lid. Turn the heat down to medium low and let the buns steam for 7-10 minutes until all the water is evaporated. Uncover the lid, and toss the buns with scallion and sesame seeds. Done!

http://thewoksoflife.com/2014/06/carrot-ginger-pork-buns/

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Comments

  1. says

    Congratulations on your First Anniversary! (All of you). Your blog is one of the most interesting cooking blogs I have come across! Your instruction, descriptions, and photos are so enjoyable! The recipes are all so appealing to me as well! In particular this one! You should rename it “Bundles Of Joy” lol. I wonder if this same filling could be made into potstickers too? Hmm I wonder…I laughed at the Pillsbury reference haha..I guess, that would be for those who like the easy way out!! I am going to put these babies on my to do list too! You guys make it look so damn easy! Cheers and Congratulations again!
    Your Fan in Southern Ontario, Canada!!

    • says

      Hey Phyllis, thank you thank you for your words of encouragement. We love seeing you here on the blog. These really are bundles of joy, and the filling can absolutely be used to make potstickers/dumplings. In fact, we might just do that. Thanks Phyllis!

  2. Lori says

    With visions of the future you described in my head, I tried making baozi for the first time. Alas, my baozi fell short (Waaaay short) of the plump and happy steam buns I imagined. Guess for me, baozi is better left to the professionals at my local Asian market! I can make a pretty mean jiaozi though!

    • says

      Hi Lori, oh no, where did it go wrong?!?! Was it the dough or filling themselves or trouble with folding/cooking? I find it helpful to read over the entire recipe beforehand and to try and visualize each step. Also check to make sure your yeast is still good. We hope you try again. I know you can do it!

  3. says

    Holy moly this is making me so hungry you guys! That photo of the pan-fried dumplings tossed in their happy little sesame seeds and scallions — gorgeous! And so tempting! That toasted chile and garlic oil is insane! I must try. I only have a tiny steamer (on top of my tiny rice cooker) so the pan-fried-and-steamed version feels like a great fit for my kitchen. Yay I can finally try it!

    Congratulations on one year! Quickly becoming one of my favorite blogs :) Thanks for making everything so simple for us!

    • says

      Thanks Sophie! I for one, vastly prefer the pan-fried version of these buns, so good call. : ) I’m basically a total sucker for anything remotely crispy. Speaking of which…those chicharrónes rice crispy treats on your blog are calling my name!

    • says

      Hey Chrissy, the filling is SO good. We don’t normally make fillings with carrots either but I have to say that I like these even better than all-meat fillings. Thanks for stopping by Chrissy!

  4. says

    Congratulations on your anniversary! That is such a great milestone, but I am shocked that you haven’t been writing even longer. I am in awe of your gorgeous photos and cooking skills. Um, do you live in the Bay Area by chance? If so, I’m coming over for dinner! ;)

    • says

      Thanks so much Andi. We just got a chance to look at your blog, and seems like you haven’t been blogging much longer than us. Congrats to you, too! We’re not in the Bay area, but if you ever find yourself in Beijing, you’re welcome to come on over!

  5. says

    these look AMAZING! i learned about pan frying steamed buns about a year ago (is it a sign that that was around when you started your blog?!) and i cannot get enough of them. SO MUCH GOODNESS.

    • says

      Hey Molly! We’ve been following your travels and awesome cat-cake-making on your blog for some time now, so it’s so great to see you here! If ever there was a best “best of both worlds” scenario, pan-frying steamed buns would be it. We’re all about crispy. : )

      in other news…I’m vaguely remembering now something about bacon/egg shengjian bao? Best. Idea. Ever.

  6. Martha says

    Just wanted to say that I love your site. I came here after The Kitchn linked to you guys a couple weeks ago. Already I’ve made four or your recipes, and they were delicious (these buns, plus wonton soup, braised pork belly, and cucumber salad). Keep up the good work!

    • says

      Thank you so much for your kind words, Martha! It’s awesome to know what recipes you’ve tried, and even more awesome to know that you enjoyed them. Thanks for the encouragement. : )

  7. says

    Oh my GOSH these are so so incredible!!!! Panfried steamed buns are some of my favorite things ever — and I’m head over heels for that gorgeous, perfect pleating. This is awesome.

  8. Kathryn says

    Decided to take a chance with this recipe, and am delighted to say that everything turned out SO good! The bread was the perfect fluffy texture, and the filling was wonderful. I’ve never successfully made baozi before, and your recipe renewed my faith in making these. I used the pan frying method, which worked spectacularly. Thank you so much for the recipe!

    • says

      Hi, Kathryn, so, so, sooooo happy to hear of your success. You must have been as thrilled as I was; I wanted to dance around the kitchen when I saw these perfect buns. Thank you very much for sharing your experience. Thumbs up to you, Kathryn!

  9. Dan says

    These look fantastic, I’m planning on making them for a brunch this weekend. A couple of questions though: Can I make the filling the day before and store it in the fridge? It seems like it wouldn’t be worth finishing the recipe just to freeze for 12 hours. Are there any secrets to the chili oil, or can I just fry up bits of dried red chilies with minced garlic? Keep up the great work!

    • says

      Hi, Dan, you can definitely make the filling the night before and put it in the refrigerator (not the freezer), but I suggest that you do it the same day as it’s really pretty quick to make while the dough is raising. The secret of the chill oil is using fresh raw (very finely) minced garlic: fry up bits of dried red chilies with oil using low heat for a while, let it cool before combine with minced garlic for that fresh taste__this is how the Beijingners eat their baozi here and we love it. Please let us know how it turn out.

    • says

      Hi, Shamim, yes, I myself want a vegetarian version. I will post one shortly, keep on the look out or sign up for email updates to be alerted of all new posts. Thank you so much for your lovely comment.

  10. Lucas says

    I’d really like to try these, they look so amazing. I was just curious if you think they’d work with gluten free all purpose flour? Thank you so much!

    • says

      Hi Lucas, I’m really not sure if they’d work with gluten-free flour, as I’ve never tried it. But if you do decide to give it a shot, let us know how it turns out!

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