Chinese Curry Beef Buns

There are many kinds of Chinese Bao or baked buns. One of the most well known Chinese buns is the Roast Pork Bun or “Cha Siu Bao” in Cantonese. While I like Cha Siu Bao, my favorite kind of bao is a Curry Beef Bao or “Ga Lay Ngoh Yuuk Bao”. The only thing I don’t like about them is that they usually cost more than other baos and have less filling. So I wanted to create my own haha.

I am not a very good baker so I am using someone else’s recipe for the dough portion of the bun.  All credit is given to Kiteless who posted this recipe on Visual Recipes. I then created an original filling based on experience from eating these baos from Chinese bakeries. It took me a few tries of baking these bao before I figured out how to work the dough properly so don’t give up if your bao don’t come out perfectly the first time. Please leave comments so I know how your baos come out =)

Source: Visual Recipes

What you need for the bread as per Kiteless:

  • 3 tsp dry active yeast
  • 1/2 C + 2 tbs sugar
  • 2/3 C hot tap water – needs to be warm to the touch but not boiling between 110 and 120F.  If water is too hot, it will kill the yeast and if too cold, yeast won’t activate.
  • 2 & 2/3C high gluten flour – flour should say good for bread machines
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 C vegetable oil

What you need to make the beef filling:

  • 2 lbs of ground beef – not too lean because we need some of the fat for the baking process. With this amount of ground beef, there will be a lot extra that you can eat over rice.
  • 1 tbs Siracha, or hot sauce of your choice
  • 1 & 1/2 tbs salt
  • 2 tbs sugar
  • 2 tbs ground black pepper
  • 3 tbs corn starch
  • 3 tbs curry powder – I used Singapore curry so it wasn’t too spicy
  • 1/2 C Mirin (sweetened Japanese cooking wine)
  • 2 large onions, red or white, cut into strips or diced
  • red chilies, optional to taste (minced), I didn’t add any for my tastes

As per Kiteless’ recipe, dissolve the yeast sugar and hot water in a bowl. Make sure the water isn’t too hot or it will kill the yeast. If your water is too cold like mine was, stick your bowl into another bowl that is filled with hot water to give it a jump start.

When the yeast is ready, about 30 to 60 minutes, the top of the bowl should be all foamy like the picture below. 

At this point I added in the remaining ingredients and stirred until all was combined. before I added more dough, the consistency was like this.

Then I added probably about another 1/3 C of flour and kneaded the dough for about 20 minutes until gluten strands started to develop. At this point, the dough didn’t stick to the table and was one cohesive glob.

Let the dough sit out for about 30 minutes to begin expanding. Then place it into the fridge, covered with a wet paper towel until the dough grows to about 3 times the size it was before fridging it. I messed up this step and stuck the dough at the top of my fridge which happens to be the coldest part. Because it was so cold, my dough did not expand at all. Don’t put your dough in the coldest portion >.< . Clearly I am inexperienced at baking haha. Take it out a few hours later after it has expanded and you are ready to use it.

The curry portion can be made the night before or while the dough is rising in the fridge. I made mine during the rising portion. Slice or dice your onions and set them aside. Finely mince up any chiles that you are using. Set them aside.

Start by browning all the beef in a large pan, wok or skillet. Once meat is browned, add in all the seasonings, onions and chilies. You can pour out some of the oil before adding in the seasonings, but make sure that some is left in the pan. If you don’t leave it in the pan, when you bake the bun, the filling will be dry. Mix until everything is combined evenly. Cook the mixture with the lid on using low heat until all onions are soft for about 10 to 15 minutes. Once onions are soft, take mixture out of pan and let cool. Once cool, place in fridge. The reason we place the mixture in the fridge is so that the filling clumps together and will stay moist during the baking process.

Ok now for the fun part. After your filling has been sitting for a few hours and your dough has expanded, cut the dough in half. Take one half and roll it out into a log. Cut the log into 8 equal pieces and keep the rest covered with the paper towel until ready to use. Pre-heat your over to 350. At this point, please reference Kiteless’ pictures here on how to make the bao properly. Scroll down to steps 11 – 14.

Once you have made all your bao, place them on parchment paper on a cookie sheet. make sure to brush egg onto each bao so that it becomes nice and golden after baking.

Place into the oven. Do not use more than 1 layer of the oven. I learned the hard way that if you do, none of the bao will cook evenly. Once the bao are done in the oven, about 15 to 20 minutes, take them out and let them sit to cool. Then eat and enjoy =) Let me know how yours come out!


  1. jon Reply
  2. Kat Black Reply

    I have been craving these for months now (after not having them for probably 9 years) but could not find them in my area so your recipe was a godsend! Thanks so much. I used a vienna roll dough that I bought at my local grocery as I didn’t even want to attempt to make my own dough, and while not 100% authentic, this totally worked for me. Thanks!

    • chengphotography

      Hi Kat,

      Glad that I could help! How did they turn out?

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