Red Bean Bao

These lightly sweetened steamed buns can be eaten as snacks as well as dessert at the end of dim sum.

Serves: 10Hands-on: 1 hourTotal: 11 hoursDifficulty: Medium

Serves: 10


  • ½ cup dried red beans
  • 1½ cups water
  • 2 tsp. active dry yeast
  • 6 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. sugar, divided
  • ¾ cup lukewarm water
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1¼ Tbsp. vegetable oil


  • Rinse the beans and soak overnight in water to cover. Drain beans. In a medium saucepan bring 1½ cups water to a boil. Add the beans and simmer for at least 2 hours or until they are tender. Drain.
  • Proof the yeast in water with 1 teaspoon sugar.
  • In a large bowl, combine 2 tablespoons sugar, baking powder, and flour. Make a well in the center, and pour in the yeast mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon to combine the wet and dry ingredients. Once the dough begins to form into a ball, add the oil. Using your fingers, gather up the dough and knead in the oil. Transfer the dough to a work surface and continue kneading about 5 minutes, until it is smooth and slightly elastic.
  • Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, turning to coat completely. Cover with plastic wrap or a clean towel and place in a warm, draft-free place to rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.
  • Place the beans and the remaining sugar in a blender and process until smooth. Heat the oil in a preheated wok or saucepan. Add the bean paste and stir-fry until it is dry.
  • Punch down the dough. Knead again gently until it is in one smooth ball again. Divide the dough into 10 equal pieces. Flatten a piece of dough between your hands to form a circle about 5" or 6" in diameter.
  • Place 2 tablespoons of the bean paste in the center of the circle. Bring up the edges of the dough and twist together to form a pouch around the filling. Place each bun on a 3" square of parchment paper.
  • Once you have finished forming all the buns, cover them with a clean towel and place in a warm, draft-free place to rise for 30 minutes.
  • Heat water to simmer in a wok and set a rack on top. Place the buns inside a bamboo steamer or on a plate, about 1" apart, and steam with the lid on for 15 minutes. Do not lift the lid to check. Let cool to room temperature and serve.