Steam-fried pork buns 水煎包

posted in: Recipes | 12

In Taiwan, you can find a wide range of delightful snacks at night markets, which is, also known as street food. One of my favourites is the steam-fried bun. The direct translation for 水煎包, is “water fried bun”. The bun is semi-fried and semi-steamed, but very little oil is used in the process. These delightful buns are delicious and pretty much one of the easiest things to make in Taiwanese cuisine.

The dough of steam-fried pork buns is light and fluffy, housing a succulent filling of mainly cabbage and pork mince. Unlike western dishes, Majority of Asian cuisine uses pork mince instead of beef. The reason is that in Taiwanese and Chinese history, cattle farming didn’t exist because, even though they were a food source, they were needed for agricultural purposes. Pigs, on the other hand were bred for consumption purposes alone. This meant that pork was more affordable than beef.

It’s usually quite difficult to raise the buns off the pan without breakage, so my mama found a way to lift the buns off the pan easily by adding corn starch to the water used to steam the buns. Another bonus from her method is that the corn starch makes the buns even crispier.

Taiwanese steam fried buns

Makes 12 buns


Dough: You can also use your own dough recipe.

  • 250g bread/cake flour, sifted
  • 10g sugar
  • 3g instant yeast
  • 135g water
  • 10g sugar
  • 10g canola oil
  • extra flour for dusting

Filling :

  • 500g minced pork
  • 200g chopped cabbage
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 1 tsp chopped garlic
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • 2 tbsp of soya sauce
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp 5 spices seasoning

Mix till the filling becomes sticky.


  • Make the dough
  • Divide the filling into 12 portions. (see step 1)
  • Create a floured surface and divide the dough into 12 pieces.
  • Roll out a piece with a rolling pin so that it becomes a flat disc. What often helps is rolling out the edges thinner than the centre to prevent the bun from breaking when being cooked. (see step 2)
  • Scoop one of your 12 portions of filling into the centre of the dough, creating a round ball of filling. (see step 4)
  • Gather the edges to the middle, making sure that you pinch them together hard enough so that there are no gaping holes. (see step 5)
  • Flatten the pinched section and dust it with flour. – Set aside to rest for 10 minutes, allowing the buns to rise. (see step 6)
  • Repeat

To steam-fry

  • Heat the pan on a medium temperature.
  • While waiting for the pan to heat up, mix a teaspoon of corn starch (Maizena) in a cup of water.
  • Place the buns, with the smooth (bottom side) facing up, onto the hot pan together.
  • Pour the oil in and allow the bottom of the buns to become golden-brown. (As the buns are dusted with flour, they won’t stick to the pan without oil. Putting the oil in after prevents splatter).
  • Pour the water and corn starch mix in, wait 1 minute then cover the pan with a lid.
  • Approximately 10-15 minutes later, scrape the sides with a spatula to lift the bottom layer.
  • Flip the buns over to brown their tops.
  • After browned, place the steam-fried pork buns onto a large plate/surface.
  • Serve with chilli bean sauce and thick soya sauce.

Taiwanese steam-fried buns 水煎包

12 Responses

  1. oded
    | Reply

    😛 very good. Sounds delicious and interesting writing ❗

  2. Ishay
    | Reply

    Best wishes on 100 years of independence and what a lovely treat! Lucky you for being able to cook these up with the folks.

  3. Jasmine
    | Reply

    It’s delicious!

  4. Kitchenboy
    | Reply

    Nice one Ming! I can’t wait to try this!

    • Ming-Cheau
      | Reply

      It’s too easy Wynand, let me know when you do try it out 🙂

  5. Jasmine
    | Reply

    Yum! I am missing Taiwan and the night market food!

  6. Janice Tripepi
    | Reply

    Oh Wow Ming – I am so going to make these for my son when he visits in December … asolutely fantastic recipe and that tip of using corn starch in the steaming water! Brilliant xxx have a great day xxx jan

  7. Werner Els
    | Reply

    Thanks for the recipe Ming! I’m going to try this tonight!

    • Ming-Cheau
      | Reply

      Rad! If you need to ask anything, tweet at me, I’ll gladly help out where I can! You have to let me know how they turned out!

  8. Jamie
    | Reply

    This is something my family – and especially my hard-to-please son would love! Great recipe and I would love to try these. Thanks for your mom’s tips, too. They do look so tempting with the crispy outside.

    • Ming-Cheau
      | Reply

      Thanks Jamie 🙂 In China, the top part of the bun is usually left unfried, so it’s still soft, but in Taiwan, from my papa’s side, they fry both sides. I like the sides fried, because it gives it that extra crispiness.

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