i have been craving some manapua (barbecue pork puns).  they are all over hawaii.  you can even get them at 7-11.  but since you can’t really get manapua here except at dim dum places, i decided to try to make some myself.  the recipe didn’t make it sound too difficult so this afternoon, i made some char sui chicken and made the dough.  started forming the buns and it seemed to be going well… and then when i left them to rise a second time, they started blowing up.  the char sui started peeping out of the top of the buns.  i should have known then that it was not going to work out.  but i put them in the oven (we don’t have a steamer) and hoped for the best. this is what i was hoping they would come out of the oven looking like:

well as you can see from the pictures above, they looked nothing like this and it was an absolute mess!!!  hahaha.  it’s pretty comical.  oh well, i guess this is a lesson learned: if you want some manapua just go and get some dim sum.

good luck!


from GroupRecipes


bun dough:

  • 1 package dry yeast
  • 3 tablespoons lukewarm water
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons cooking oil or shortening
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 cups sifted flour
  • 1/2 tablespoon sesame oil


  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound char siu, diced
  • Few drops red food coloring, optional


  1. To prepare bun dough:
  2. Sprinkle yeast over 3 tablespoons water and allow to stand until yeast softens.
  3. To remaining water, add oil or shortening, sugar and salt, stirring until melted or dissolved.
  4. Cool. Add yeast mixture.
  5. Place flour in a large mixing bowl or a heavy-duty mixer and add most of the liquid.
  6. Begin kneading.
  7. Add remaining liquid to make a very heavy dough.
  8. Continue kneading or mixing until you have a smooth ball that is beginning to show signs of long strands on the outside, indicating that the gluten has fully developed.
  9. Remove dough from bowl and rinse out bowl.
  10. Pour sesame oil into bowl, return dough and turn it around until covered with a thin layer of the oil.
  11. Cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise until double in bulk — about an hour in a warm room.
  12. Placing the dough in the refrigerator and allowing it to rise there, 3-6 hours, develops the flavor.
  13. Proceed with the filling or gently deflate the dough and allow it to rise for a second time, which will further enhance the flavor.
  14. To prepare filling: In a pot, stir cornstarch, sugar and salt in water until dissolved.
  15. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add char siu and, if desired, red food coloring.
  16. To stuff and steam buns:
  17. Heat a steamer with plenty of water.
  18. Cut 12 (3-inch) squares of waxed paper and coat 1 side with 1/2 second coat of nonstick cooking spray.
  19. Punch down dough and divide into 12 pieces.
  20. Roll each into a ball.
  21. Flatten into a circle about 6 inches in diameter.
  22. Make the dough as thin as you can and try to keep the edges thinner than the center.
  23. Place the circle of dough in the palm of your hand.
  24. Spoon in a couple of tablespoons of filling, cupping the dough around it.
  25. Then, with the thumb and finger of the other hand, pinch the edges of the dough as if you were making a fluted edging on a pie crust. Pinch the folds together, twisting them as you do so.
  26. Place the completed manapua on a square of greased waxed paper.
  27. Allow to plump up into a globe with a taut exterior.
  28. To bake manapua, brush top of buns with a little canola oil and bake 20 to 25 minutes at 350 degrees.
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