Kuih Pau Kacang Merah | Red Bean Steamed Buns

August 09, 2018

Sweet and soft Red bean steamed buns.
It is also known as bao or kuih pau.

Red Bean Steamed Buns photo

What is Bao?

Chinese steamed buns are known as Bao (to majority of the world) and commonly known as Pau in Malaysia.

Steamed buns can be eaten with fillings or without.

Steamed buns are filled with sweet filling like this Red bean steamed buns, coconut jam (kaya), sweet mung beans or sweet coconut filling.
And there are savoury steamed buns that are filled with chicken curry or char siu (bbq-ed meat)

Steamed buns are eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner in some country as their staple food.

Steamed buns served for lunch and dinner are usually the plain steamed buns, to mop up the delicious gravy. And these are known as mantou (the dough is less sweet than this recipe)

One dish that came to mind is the Chilli Crab (which reminds me .... this is an old recipe needs to be looked into, but crabs are so expensive!!!), uses mantou to mop up the delicious sauce... yums 

Red Bean Steamed Bao photo

Bao | Pau fillings

I love steamed buns, especially Red Bean Steamed Buns, Black bean steamed buns and Chicken curry  steamed buns.

 Among the three mentioned above, I love the black bean steamed buns the most. I have not had any black beans steamed buns for many years , and I believed that they no longer made the black beans steamed buns any more!
Black beans steamed buns has phased out... 'sigh'

My late dad used to buy us some steamed buns whenever he went out of town for work, and whenever he passed by Tanjong Malim, a small town in Perak, Malaysia (famous...not too sure whether its still is) for its steamed buns.

 My dad would get few chicken curry steamed buns, red bean steamed buns and black bean steamed buns. They were still soft and fluffy after few hours of travelling on road.

My least favourite would be the Sweet coconut steamed buns.

Resipi kuih pau kacang merah

How to make soft and fluffy steamed buns

I tried my hands on making steamed buns before... sadly, none worked out well.

About to give up on making any steamed buns.... until my sister sent me a copy of this recipe few years ago.

Then again, I was hesitating, because I do not have that ONE ingredient!

Double Action baking powder!!!

First time I came across the item.
Seriously... where can I find double action baking powder in Perth!!!

Finally, managed to get some double action baking powder from Malaysia, hence "Project steaming buns" began :)

Adzuki balls
Chinese steamed buns
Soft and fluffy red bean steamed buns

If you are wondering where to get your hand on double action baking powder, do not worry!!
Your pantry baking powder works just as fine.

I experimented twice, which means we get to eat steamed buns to our heart content :).

My findings :

very little difference in texture. Without double action baking powder may have very slight next to minuscule impact on its fluffiness.

It was still much .. much better, vast improvement from my last ... embarrass to mention many attempts!!!

Watch my video below on How to make red bean steamed buns  and do read my notes below on how to enjoy your red bean steamed buns the next day.

So ... tell me,
What is/ are your favourite steamed buns :)

Soft and pillowy Red bean steamed buns

steamed baos, steamed buns, Chinese baos, Chinese steamed buns, red bean steamed buns, kuih pau, kuih pau lembut, kuih pau lembut dan gebu
Yield: makes about 16 buns

Red Bean Steamed Buns

Sweet and soft steamed buns, known as bao or kuih pau. Fill these steamed buns with sweet filling like adzuki beans paste or savoury like chicken curry. Or have it on its own as mantou.


  • 500g Hong Kong flour (Bao flour)
  • 110g caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon double action baking powder * (see note below)
  • 230g lukewarm water
  • 10g yeast
  • 35g vegetable shortening
  • greaseproof paper cut into 5cm x 5 cm (2 inch x 2 inch)
Red bean paste
  • 300g adzuki beans (soaked)
  • 1.2 litre water 
  • 200g sugar


Bao/ Pau dough
  1. Mix and bloom yeast in lukewarm water. Stir and leave it aside for 5 minutes.
  2. In a bowl, mix Hong Kong flour, baking powder, sugar.
  3. Add the bloomed yeast into the dry ingredients,
  4. Mix and knead till well combined
  5. Add vegetable shortening and knead again to a smooth dough.
  6. Divide to a 50g dough 
  7. Roll into a ball and flatten the dough into a disc.
  8. Add red bean paste shaped into a ball (read below for instruction on how to cook red bean paste)
  9. Enclosed red bean ball with dough, seal and making sure no openings.
  10. Repeat with remaining dough and red bean balls.
  11. Cover with muslin cloth/ cheese cloth and proof for 30 minutes.
  12. After 30 minutes, start the steamer and steam on high heat for 7 minutes.
  13. Serve immediately.
  14. Read note for other minor details.
Red bean paste
  1. Wash and soak red bean for 30 minutes.
  2. Drain off water and place the beans in pressure cooker
  3. Cook as per pressure cooker instruction for cooking beans
  4. Once cooking red bean is done, strain off the water.
  5. Remove and further cook red beans in a medium size  pot.
  6. Add sugar
  7. Cook  for another 5 to 10 minutes to thicken 
  8. Leave it to cool
  9. Use a stick blender and blend into a smooth paste.
  10. Leave it to completely cool before rolling them into balls


1. Substitute double action baking powder with our pantry baking powder. Not much difference in texture.
2. No time to make red bean paste, just get the store bought red bean paste. Do note that the store bought red bean paste will be too sweet (for my liking).
3. Red bean steamed buns will not stay soft and fluffy the next day. Not to fret much, re-steam or microwave for 30 sec. 
4. You can freeze the remaining buns. Re-steam or microwave to have soft and fluffy baos/ pau anytime.
Created using The Recipes Generator

Sweet and soft steamed buns, known as bao or kuih pau.


  1. Hi Lisa... Tq for sharing the red bean steamed bao/pau.. I have tried many pau recipes but yr recipe is the best.. simple steps. .its awesome soft fluffy pau.. My husband love it... But I use plain flour and normal baking powder...cos in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia don't have bao/pau/hongkong flour.. but it is still soft smooth fluffy pau... Thank you again for your recipe..

    1. Salam Zaiton,
      Thank you and I am happy to read your positive feedback :D

  2. Hi Lisa, can use lard for shortening.
    Yeast is active dry yeast.

    1. Hi Lynn
      Thank you for your feedback.
      I only use vegetable shortening as I don't consume lard.

  3. I pergi Tanjung Malim just to have Yik Mun's pau...


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