Chicken Bapao

Bapao (“big bun”) is a steamed bun with a meat or sweet filling. It is actually a dim sum, invented by Cantonese immigrants who traveled from China to several parts of Asia, introducing this wonderful big bun to many other Oriental kitchens. The bapao made its way into the Dutch kitchen via Indonesia, when it was a colony of The Netherlands.

These days you can buy bapao as a snack everywhere and heat them in the microwave. We even have a song dedicated to the infamous bapao that hit the top of the charts in The Netherlands a few summers back! But the best bapao are the ones made traditionally in a steamer.

Here’s a recipe from my mother’s cookbook. I usually prepare the meat a day before I prepare the dough. The dough kneading is a fun thing to do with kids. Because I don’t eat pork, I’ll give you the version I make with chicken meat instead. 


Required Tools:

a steamer
  • Mixing bowls
  • Clean hands
  • Steam pan
  • Frying pan
  • Time and patience
  • Cut up Baking paper






Ingredients for meat:

  • 250 gr chicken filet
  • A carrot
  • 2 onions
  • 2 toes of garlic
  • Lemon
  • Oil
  • Some Salt
  • Table spoon Ketjap Manis
  • Table spoon Sambal
  • Teaspoon Laos
  • Teaspoon Coriander
  • Teaspoon Kurkuma
  • Teaspoon Cumin powder


How to:

Clean the chicken filet with a slice of lemon. Chop the meat in very small bits and add a few more drops of the lemon for flavor.  Chop the carrot, the onions and the garlic and add it all to chicken. Heat some oil in a frying pan and fry the chicken in it. While frying, add all the spices and stir and fry the chicken mixture till it’s a nice golden-like color.

Allow the mixture to cool off in a bowl and leave it in the fridge for the night.


The dough needs to be prepared in two stages. 

Ingredients Dough 1

  • 250 gr bapao wheat starch
  • 1 teaspoon yeast
  • 100 ml water

How to:

(Make sure your hands and nails are cleaner than clean!!)

Mix everything in a bowl and knead dough with your bare hands for about 10 minutes until it’s not too sticky nor too dry.

You don’t have to be gentle while kneading this dough; feel free to take all irritation and anger you might have out on it. I promise it’ll make you feel a whole lot bette; best therapy ever. Or you are kneading the dough with kids, pretend it’s a boxing match 😉 Knead until the dough isn’t chunky anymore. It has to be smooth and elastic.

Once the dough is one big round elastic ball; Leave it to rise in the a bowl, covered with a wet towel for about an hour in a cold and dark place (not the fridge). It’s supposed to grow twice it’s size.


Ingredients Dough 2

  • 150 gr bapao wheat starch
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 80 gr sugar
  • 50 ml water
  • 50 gr butter


How to:

Mix ingredients. Add dough 2 to dough 1 and keep kneading for about 5 minutes until it’s not that sticky anymore. Make a long roll of the dough and slice the roll into pieces of about 30 gr each. Leave the pieces of dough alone for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, take the chicken prepared from last night out of the fridge. Take the pieces of dough and make round balls of them. Flatten each ball with a teaspoon and stuff fill it with the chicken. Make sure you close the balls proper enough.


Place the stuffed buns withbapao baking paper in the top of the steamer. Add water in the pan and bring to boil. Wrap lid of the steamer with a dry towel, to prevent condens dripping on the buns.

Place the top steamer with closed lid on the pan once water is boiling.


Steam the buns for 30 to 45 minutes.



Tips & Variations

  • Instead of chicken, you can also try beef, pork or any other kind of meat for the filling.
  • Ketjap Manis is NOT like random Soy Sauce. If you can’t find Ketjap Manis in your oriental store you could use Soy Sauce and add about two teaspoons of sugar instead.
  • Can’t get your hands on bapao wheat meel? Just use normal wheat meel instead.
  • Serve with sweet chilli sauce
  • Instead of steaming the bapao, you could leave the stuffed dough buns in the fridge overnight to then fry them in a deep fryer.

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