Bánh Bao

Bánh bao is a Vietnamese steamed bun made with yeasted dough and a savory ground pork filling.

Lastest Updated January 6, 2024
Verified by A-Z Cuisines Team
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Fact: In Vietnam culture, bánh bao represents eternity and affluence, which explains why families in the country also serve it as an offering to their ancestor shrine.

Flag of Vietnam#41 in Vietnam

Basic Information

Bánh Bao: Basic Information

Pronunciation

/ˈbaɪŋ ˈbaw/

Alternative Name(s)

No

Dish Type

Dumplings

Course

Main Course

Mealtime

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Origin and Region

Bánh Bao: Origin and Region

Origin

Vietnam

Continent’s Region

Southeast Asia

Country’s Region

Nationwide Origin

Associated Region

Unspecified
Vietnam Map
A Deep Dive

Popular Bánh Bao Variations

Ingredients and Preparation

Bánh Bao: Ingredients and Preparation

Main Ingredients

All-purpose flour (for dough), pork, eggs, mushrooms, onions

Main Cooking Method

Steaming

Preparation Process

Dough is made and allowed to rise, fillings are prepared and wrapped in the dough, and the buns are then steamed or fried until cooked through.
A Deep Dive

Bánh Bao: A Deep Dive

Cultural Significance

Bánh bao is integrated into Vietnamese festivities and daily cuisine.

Taste

Savory

Texture

Soft and fluffy, slightly crunchy (fried)

Aroma

Savory

Color

White, golden brown

Serving Style

As a handheld item

Serving Temperature

Hot or warm

Accompaniment

No accompaniment

Occasions

On any occasions

Seasons

Year-round

Special Diets

Non diet-specific

Calories

192 calories, according to data of MyFitnessPal for 1 bun of Banh Bao

Popularity

Vietnam, China

Popular Similar Dishes

  1. Baozi
  2. Jjinppang
  3. Nikuman

Popular Dining Area

Street vendors, eateries, and restaurants in Vietnam

Bánh bao is a Vietnamese version of a steamed bun originating from China. Commonly, traditional Vietnamese bánh bao comes with a savory filling of ground pork, Chinese sausage, hard-boiled eggs (chicken or quail), mushrooms, and onions.

Banh Bao Overview

Usually, these steamed buns of Vietnam have a larger size than baozi, the original Chinese bun. Aside from the regular meat bun, bánh bao in Vietnam even has char siu or vegetarian fillings, providing various tastes as a street-side item.

In Vietnam, bánh bao is a favorite treat, often available in a steamed variety, to the locals appearing at many street food stalls and shops. Interestingly, locals often enjoy this steamed bun as a breakfast item or as a snack when it’s fried and has a smaller size.

Don’t stop at only knowing about the basic features of bánh bao, as looking into the components of this Vietnamese savory steamed bun and a few different versions is also an interesting experience.

Plus, I’ll also provide you with the methods that bánh bao is made along with the good and bad features of eating it. Afterward, take your time to figure out all the differences between Vietnamese bánh bao and Chinese bao.

Also, let’s learn about the common inquiries that people have for bánh bao and expand your knowledge on dishes that are like thie Vietnamese steamed bun.

Key Points

  • Bánh bao is a Vietnamese steamed bun.
  • It has a savory filling of ground pork, Chinese sausage, hard-boiled eggs, mushrooms, and onions.
  • It is a popular snack or breakfast item in Vietnam, often sold at street food stalls and shops.
  • In Vietnam, there are a few variations like bánh bao chiên, bánh bao chay, and bánh bao xá xíu.

Bánh Bao Images

What Are Vietnamese Steamed Buns Made of?

In Vietnam, bánh bao combines various ingredients to produce the dough and fillings differently. However, a standard steamed pork bun in Vietnam usually consists of 2 main components of the dough and filling:

Dough:

  • Flour: The primary ingredient for the dough’s structure.
  • Sugar: To add a touch of sweetness and to feed the yeast.
  • Baking powder: For additional leavening and fluffiness.
  • Yeast: The leavening agent that causes the dough to rise.
  • Vegetable oil: Added to the dough to give it a tender texture.
  • Salt: A pinch of salt is added for flavor.

Filing:

  • Ground pork: The most common protein used for the filling.
  • Wood ear mushrooms: Rehydrated and chopped, they add an earthy flavor and texture.
  • Onions: Finely diced for flavor.
  • Seasonings: Such as soy sauce, oyster sauce, pepper, and fish sauce, which are commonly used to marinate the filling.
  • Hard-boiled egg: Often included in each bun, either as a half or a quarter.
  • Chinese sausage (Lạp Xưởng): An optional element for additional flavor.

Once you have known about the basic composition of a bánh bao, don’t shy away from knowing about its many variants in Vietnam.

What Are the Variants of Bánh Bao?

In Vietnam, people often favor the common steamed white bánh bao with a ground pork filling. However, there are still a few variants that come with various fillings and textures:

Banh Bao Chien

Fried until golden brown, offering a crispy texture
Has a smaller size than regular bánh bao

Banh Bao Chay

Vegetarian version with no animal products

Banh Bao Xa Xiu

Features sweet and savory barbecued pork filling

Aside from the versions of bánh bao in Vietnam, the methods of making these steamed buns are a crucial part that makes them tasty.

How to Make Bánh Bao?

Vietnamese bánh bao is relatively straightforward, with all the procedures mainly revolving around making the dough and fillings before combining them for steaming:

Step 1: Prepare the Dough

Mix all-purpose flour with sugar, baking powder, and salt; then add warm water and oil to form a dough, knead until smooth, cover, and let rise until doubled.

Step 2: Prepare the Filling

Mix ground pork with soy sauce, oyster sauce, and sugar, then mix in chopped onions and mushrooms before adding hard-boiled egg pieces (or entire quail eggs).

Step 3: Assemble the Buns

Divide the risen dough into pieces, roll it into flat circles, place the filling in the center, and place each bun on a parchment square.

Step 4: Steam the Buns

Set the buns in a steamer with boiling water, steam on high heat until the dough expands and firm, then allow to rest in the steamer for a few minutes before serving.

Step 5: Serve

Enjoy the bánh bao warm, either on their own or with a side of dipping sauce if preferred.

After uncovering the procedures of materializing a bánh bao bun in Vietnam, you should also know about the positive and negative effects that this steamed specialty has when consumed.

Pros and Cons of Eating Bánh Bao

Here are a few features that you should weigh up carefully before eating bánh bao to avoid any unwanted effects:

Pros

  • Portability: These buns are self-contained and easily transported, making them a convenient on-the-go meal or snack.
  • Satiety: The combination of protein, fat, and carbohydrates makes bánh bao quite filling, which helps control hunger for those looking to manage their eating habits.
  • Versatility: Bánh bao is filled with a wide variety of ingredients, allowing for many different dietary preferences, including vegetarian and vegan options.

Cons

  • High carbohydrates: The dough is primarily made from refined flour, which contributes to a high glycemic load and is not ideal for those with carbohydrate-sensitive conditions such as diabetes.
  • Food safety: When not prepared or stored properly, the moist environment of a steamed bun is a potential breeding ground for bacteria.

To understand more about Vietnamese steamed pork bun, make sure to also find out about all the features that make bánh bao different from Chinese bao.

What Are the Differences Between Vietnamese Bánh Bao and Chinese Bao?

Bánh bao is a different version when compared to the Chinese version of bao. Here are the features that set these two steam buns apart:

Afterward, you should learn about some of the common concerns that people have around bánh bao, helping you have a thorough understanding of this steamed bun.

Bánh Bao FAQs

Traditional bánh bao is not gluten-free as the flour for creating the dough contains gluten.

Leftovers should be refrigerated and reheated by steaming or microwaving with a damp paper towel over them.

When properly stored, they can last for up to 2 months in the freezer.

Yes, you can use a makeshift steamer with a pot, colander, and lid or steam them in a microwave steamer.

Truc Tran (Kris)

Truc Tran (Kris)

Senior Food Editor

Expertise

Home Cooking, Meal Planning, Recipe Development, Baking and Pastry, Food Editor, Cooking-video Maker, Vietnamese Food Evaluation Expert

Education

  • Hospitality (Commercial Cookery) at TasTAFE
  • Culinary Arts at Kendall College (Australia Branch in Sydney)
  • Vietnamese Cuisine Head Chef at HNAAu School (Vietnam, International Joint Training Program)

Truc Tran (Kris), an experienced food writer and editor, is great at exploring and describing global cuisines, from simple street food to fancy dining. In her writing, she skillfully mixes different flavors, cooking methods, and culinary traditions, showing the unique character of various cultures through their food and drinks. On azcuisines.com, Kris highlights her knowledge, especially in Asian cuisine and worldwide traditional dishes.

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