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Luxurious Black Pepper Glazed Short Rib Bao + Giveaway

by Kristina Gill

I’m fascinated by Hong Kong, and not just for its layers of intriguing history (depicted beautifully in Louise Hawson’s book, 52 Suburbs around the world), but also for its world-famous culinary offerings that I can only dream of tasting. I’ve found a great new cookbook that can stand in as a substitute for a plane ticket in the meantime, though! Jeremy Pang and Adrienne Katz Kennedy, both of London’s School of Wok cooking school, have written Hong Kong Diner, which provides recipes for some of Hong Kong’s most iconic dishes. These Black Pepper Glazed Short Rib Bao are just one of those recipes. We have included Jeremy and Adrienne’s recipe for making the bao (or buns) as well, so you can use them for this recipe and also create your own bao fillings. (Great idea for serving something special at a party!) —Kristina

To win a copy of Hong Kong Diner (US readers only), leave an answer in the comment section below. The two-part question is: “What’s your ideal destination for food, and what dish would you eat first?”

Why Jeremy and Adrienne love this recipe: “We first tried these baos at a restaurant called Sohofama, which sits inside PMQ in Hong Kong; a government supported organization devoted to the creative practices of Hong Kong residents. The minute we tried this dish we knew it had to go into the book, and we consequently went back to Sohofama twice more during the trip for “research” purposes. Not only is their menu a beautiful mix of modern day trends alongside Chinese comforts, but Sohofama itself is an inspiring business that supports urban organic farming, chemical-free ingredients and a healthy, balanced living. Definitely worth a visit if you happen to be in Hong Kong!”

Find Jeremy on Instagram here, and Adrienne here.

{Photography by Kris Kirkham}

Image above: Serving cart at a dim sum house.

Image above: Cha Chaan Teng (‘Tea House Lounge’)

Image above: Black Pepper Glazed Short Rib Bao

Clockwise from upper left: Burger Bao: the Slider, Traditional Bao: the Bao Master, Filled Bao: the Snowball, Hirata Bao: the Sandwich

Black Pepper Glazed Short Rib Bao

Baos, burgers and sliders have been setting food trends around the world for years now. We tried a version of this slider in a new organic restaurant called Sohofama in Hong Kong, which seems to be leading the way in urban farming and healthier cooking styles, while still managing to maintain the best part of traditional Chinese cooking techniques to create delicious dishes like this. When cooking this short rib bao, feel free to try out the different folds – the hirata bun fold or burger bao fold will both work well with the slow-cooked short rib. Make sure you leave yourself plenty of time to make your bao dough and preferred bao shapes, steaming them just before you finish off the tender meat to make your luxurious buns.

Serves 4


  • 4 beef short ribs, separated
  • 1/2 a portion of bao dough, ready to make 8–10 steamed hirata buns or burger baos
  • The Poaching Liquid:
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 small cinnamon stick
  • 2 cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 liter (1 3/4 pints / 4 cups) water
  • The Glaze:
  • 3 tablespoons jarred Chinese black pepper sauce (available in Chinese supermarkets)
  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 4 teaspoons sugar
  • Bao Dough (MAKES 10 LARGE OR 16–20 MINI BAO)
  • The Dry Mix:
  • 530g (1lb 3oz / 4 cups) middle-gluten wheat flour (swapsies: plain flour / all-purpose flour), plus extra for dusting
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 7g (just under 1/4 oz or 1 envelope) fast-action dried yeast
  • 40g (1 1/2 oz) caster sugar (superfine sugar)
  • 15g (1/2 oz) baking powder
  • The Liquid:
  • 50ml (2fl oz) milk
  • 200–250ml (7–8fl oz / about 1 cup) warm water (depending on how humid your room feels – if the air feels very dry you’ll want to add a little more water, but if it is very humid, less is required)
  • 25ml (1fl oz) vegetable or sunflower oil



Place the short ribs in a large saucepan and add all the poaching liquid ingredients. Bring to the boil on a high heat, then lower to a gentle simmer. Poach the beef ribs on a low heat for 3 hours, until the meat starts to fall off the bone but still keeps its shape.

While the meat is cooking, make your bao buns if you haven’t made them beforehand.


Mix the glaze ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Once the ribs have been poached, remove them from the poaching liquid and carefully remove the bones, leaving the meat itself whole and intact as much as possible.


Cut each long piece of meat in half vertically, in order to make more reasonably sized portions that will fit well into the steamed buns. Put the pieces of meat into the bowl of glaze and gently coat the pieces of meat, using a spoon to baste on all surfaces and sides.


Just before you finish glazing the meat, start steaming your bao buns. Char each side of the meat under a hot grill (minimum 230°C / 450°F) on a lined baking tray or unlined rack, or finish directly on the barbecue. Serve one piece of short rib to one steamed bun for ease of eating (with only moderate gluttony), along with some pickles or salad and condiments on the side.


To make the bao dough:

Fluffy, pillowy white baos hit China, Hong Kong and Japan many years ago, but it wasn’t until recently that they became a mainstream street snack in the West. With our clear love of burgers and all things bread, it’s no wonder these softer, slightly sweeter breads are so moreish, no matter where in the world we are. The airy texture is great for mopping up sauces, while their firmness makes them the perfect bun to keep a sandwich together. This simple bao dough recipe will get you going, but be warned, trying out new shapes is addictive!

Put the dry mix ingredients into the bowl of a free-standing mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment.


Mix the liquid ingredients in a measuring jug. Then slowly pour the liquid into the mixer while kneading on a low speed for around 2 minutes, until all the water is mixed into the flour. Once combined, turn the speed up to high for a further 2 minutes, until the dough has a smooth yet tacky feel to it.


Once the dough has been well kneaded, dust it with 2 tablespoons of flour. Shape the dough into a rough ball, scraping off any additional dough on the sides of the bowl, then coat it lightly with 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil, put it back into the bowl, cover with a damp cloth and leave aside in a warm, preferably moist, draught-free location (such as inside a room-temperature oven) for 1–1 1/2 hours.


Once the dough has doubled in size, you can make it into whatever shapes you wish before steaming. Steaming time will vary between 8 and 15 minutes, depending on the shape and size of your finished buns (the thinner the bun, the shorter the steaming time).

The same cooking method is used for all of the bao shapes.

Place bao on squares of greaseproof paper and then steam for 8–15 minutes (depending on the size of your bao) in a covered steam basket, inside a wok half-filled with boiling water, without opening the lid, until cooked through and risen well.


Making Bao Shapes

This bao dough is classically a type of steamed bread dough that originated from northern China for making breads such as mantou (a pure steamed bread for mopping up sauces) or baozi (a filled steamed bread). It is a simple yeast dough that rises over time when proved at the right temperature, making it much easier to make than most people think. After the first 1 1/2 hours of proving, the dough can be shaped into burgers, hirata buns, or even more classic dumpling shapes, to hold whatever filling suits you best. Here are some simple shapes to start with.

Hirata Bao: The Sandwich

Roll the proved bao dough out until completely flat and roughly 4mm (1/4 inch) in thickness, then cut into either rectangles or circles. If cutting circles, roll them out again once cut, to make elongated oval shapes. Once all the shapes have been cut, lightly brush the top of each one with a dab of vegetable oil. Place an oiled chopstick across the centre of each piece of dough and fold one side over the top to form a ‘lip’, then remove the chopstick. Once you have made the sandwich shapes, cover with a damp cloth and set aside to rest for 15–20 minutes.

Burger Bao: The Slider

To make a burger-shaped bao, roll the proved bao dough into a long cylinder, roughly 3–4cm (1 1/4 –1 1/2 inch) then cut the cylinder into 3–4cm (1 1/4 –1 1/2 inch) thick pieces. Roll each piece of dough in your hands to form a smooth ball. Take a ball of dough and press down firmly with the palm of your hand to form a flattened circle. Brush with a little dab of vegetable oil, then place another piece of dough on top. Slightly dome or cup your hand and press down once more to form the 2 halves of your burger bun shape, the bottom bun being completely flat and the top being domed. Repeat until all the dough has been used. Once you have made your burger bao shapes, cover with a damp cloth and set aside to rest for 15–20 minutes.





Excerpted with permission from Hong Kong Diner by Jeremy Pang and Adrienne Katz Kennedy, published by Quadrille, October 2017

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  • I’d want to go to JAPAN (any city in Japan, really)! I find Japanese food refreshing and innovative, and would love to gorge on fresh sushi/sashimi and matcha soft serve.

  • My ideal food destination is Vietnam. My first eats (note that’s plural) there would be Ban Cha and a giant bowl of super spicy beef Pho!

  • I’m always on the lookout for Cantonese recipes. It’s easy to find recipes for Americanized dishes, Sichuan dishes, etc. But harder to find recipes for the style of food my husband likes. Having been to HK with him, I have to say that nothing like those bao were served at any of the “Hong Kong diners” we went to. But maybe the book has more classic recipes too?

    Many places I would like to travel to for the food, but it’s hard to not want to go back to Singapore. Roti prata, chicken rice, laksa, fish head curry, chili crab, nasi lemak, mee goreng….yep, I think it’s Singapore…

    • Hi, Erin! The authors tried a version of this slider at a new organic restaurant in HK called Sohofama. They describe a little bit more about Sohofama in the intro to this post/their explanation of why they love this recipe. PMQ sounds like a neat place to explore and I’d love to check it out if I ever make it to HK myself!

  • My answer is probably a little boring, but I’d go to Las Vegas and go to Momofuku Vegas. The menu changes, but I’m hoping that the ramen and pork belly buns are available when I finally get to go. I’ve had the cookbook for years and made many of the recipes, I’m hoping we can make the trip happen in the spring.

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  • A few months ago, opened in Porto a restaurant with rib bao! I really need to go there, because if it looks likes this ones, well.. it looks delicious. Kisses

  • Yum! Discovering new food in new places is so much fun. I would love to go to southern India and eat all that I could!

  • There are so many places! I would love to go to Budapest to eat some paprikash or to Vietnam for pho!

  • Japan has always been my number one, but I was just recently there – and first dish I had was udon, then ramen, then eel, then ALL OF THE SUSHI! So the next topping my list actually has to be Hong Kong, and my first meal would, of course, be dim sum. Can’t choose a first item because it will be the luck of the cart, but fingers crossed for shrimp in rice noodles!

  • This question has too many answers! If forced to pick, I’d either choose dim sum, followed by noodles in Hong Kong, or Japan, where I’d choose high-end tonkatsu and fried oysters or an amazing set meal (teishoku) at a hot springs resort.

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