my lavender blues

February 9, 2016

Asian BBQ Pulled Chicken Gua Bao


Asian Bbq Chicken Gua Bao (steam bun)

Asian Bbq Chicken Gua Bao (steam bun)

So first off, perhaps a little delayed, but I would like to welcome you with open arms to one of my favorite times of the year, the “February Drop-off”.

Here Here! And if you haven’t made that giant leap to the dark side, do it, I dare you. Welcome to a life filled with eating a copious amount of carbs in order to make up for the January avoidance. We, the drop-offers, are now able to stop contemplating ways to end our lives and can fully enjoy one of our true purposes for existence. Food. Our self diagnosis of a gluten allergy has diminished and we are full-on gluten tolerant. Bring on the beer, breads & brats! 

Or for this particular post, bring on the Gua Bao. (Okay doesn’t flow as nicely, but once it is in/on/somewhere around your mouth all lack-of-flowiness will be forgotten).

Asian Bbq Chicken Gua Bao (steam bun)

Asian Bbq Chicken Gua Bao (steam bun)

Asian Bbq Chicken Gua Bao (steam bun)

Gua Bao, probably the next greatest thing to homemade Tacos. 

Too aggressive?

Not even a little.

Newp, still not budging.

So what exactly IS Gua Bao you ask? The literal meaning is “cut bread”. But in fact it is much more than that. It is a lightly sweetened steamed bun (shaped almost like flat bread) with bits of meat in the middle. Traditionally you’ll find pork belly, however I am finding it all over restaurants with a million different options for the “stuffing”. 

For this particular recipe I was influenced by my Banh Mi recipe, tangy dressing with some fresh greens on top. I also went through several different steam bun recipes to finally figure out what worked best for my own taste & texture. I also wanted the ingredients to be readily available, and more than likely already in your pantry.

Asian Bbq Chicken Gua Bao (steam bun)

Asian Bbq Chicken Gua Bao (steam bun)

Asian Bbq Chicken Gua Bao (steam bun)

Recipe Notes:

The buns do have yeast so yes there will be a little bit of kneading & rising, but nothing that should scare you away from making this.

Don’t let the bamboo basket make you feel like you won’t be able to steam ya buns! You can use a regular metal steamer, just again, make sure to lay down parchment paper or lettuce/cabbage leaves so the dough won’t stick to the steamer. 

If you are having a party, make the buns in advance! You can do this by steaming them all and then storing them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to TWO weeks. All you have to do is pop them back into the steamer before you are ready to eat for about 3-4 minutes and they’ll be good as new (restaurants usually do this). 

The flower design on top of the buns is COMPLETELY optional. I actually got this idea from “Lady & Pups” recipe (though I don’t use her actual recipe since she weighs her ingredients – something I just can’t begin to do – I followed her flower tutorial aka dye & chopsticks). 

For the pulled chicken, I actually baked 1 lb of chicken breast (lightly oiled with some salt & pepper) in the oven at 350 for 35-40 minutes, and then pulled the meat apart with a fork. However for ease you can easily purchase a rotisserie chicken and pull apart all of the meat. 

If you do not have oyster sauce you may use fish sauce however you’ll need to axe the salt content & add a little more honey for sweetness. Do this to taste. Also if you don’t have sesame oil you may use regular vegetable or olive oil, just will lack the nuttiness that the sesame oil provides. Also as a last resort if you don’t have hoisin you may use ketchup. Believe it or not, it actually works. Obviously not the same flavoring, but you gotta do what you gotta do.

Asian Bbq Chicken Gua Bao (steam bun)

Asian Bbq Chicken Gua Bao (steam bun)

5.0 from 3 reviews
Asian BBQ Pulled Chicken Gua Bao
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
For the Buns:
  • 12 4"x4" parchment paper squares
  • 1 teaspoon rapid rise yeast
  • ½ cup warm water + 1 tbsp
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1¼ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar + 1 tsp
  • 2½ tsp melted coconut oil
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
For the Chicken & Sauce
  • 1 lb chicken, shredded (about 2-3 large breasts or 1 rotisserie chicken)
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 3 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • ½ cup sliced radishes
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
For the Buns
  1. In a small bowl add your yeast, ½ cup warm water (not too hot where it will kill the yeast, but definitely not luke warm where it won't activate it) and 1 tsp sugar. Mix together until dissolved and let yeast activate for 10 minutes (until it foams up nice).
  2. Next in a separate bowl add your flour, baking powder, sugar & salt. Stir until mixed. Add your activated yeast mixture as well as your coconut oil a little at a time, folding the flour over the water until fully incorporated. Use that extra tbsp of water here if your mixture is too dry (we all measure a little differently).
  3. Next on a surface begin to knead your dough until a nice smooth round ball forms. Do this for about 10 minutes. Once dough is nice and round place into a lightlyl greased bowl (I use more coconut oil) and let rise until doubled in size, about 1½ - 2 hours.
  4. Once dough has doubled in size, divide evenly into six pieces, and roll into little balls. Cover balls with plastic wrap and let them rise again for about 30 minutes.
  5. Using a rolling pin, roll each small ball out into a tiny oval pancake that will measure about 6" x 2"-3" and place onto a square of parchment paper. Fold over like making a taco and place another small square of parchment paper in between the folded halves to prevent from sticking. Repeat this step until all of your dough is shaped.
  6. Place in steamer basket, cover with plastic wrap, and let them rise again for another 30 minutes.
  7. Once buns are ready for steaming, place over the heated water and put steamer basket with buns in place (with lid on). Steam for about 10 minutes over medium heat.
  8. Remove steamer from heat and then remove buns and let rest until dry and you are ready to serve.
For the chicken
  1. In a small sauce pan add your sesame oil over medium heat. Add your shallots & ginger. Stir until fragrant (about 3-4 minutes). Add your minced garlic. Let cook for another minute. Reduce heat to a simmer and add your hoisin, honey, oyster sauce, vinegar, soy sauce & cayenne pepper. Stir for about another two minutes.
  2. Remove from heat and let cool for five minutes. Pour over shredded chicken and mix until chicken is fully coated.
For serving:
  1. Take your bun and stuff with a couple tbsp chicken, some chopped cilantro, sliced radishes and green onions. Serve.


  1. Mia says:

    reminds me of home <333

  2. Jordan says:

    You think I can just use a taco or thing of naan bread instead?? Maybe skip the ink as I’m not at all artsy…. Looks good

    • Julia says:

      Hey Jordan – you could definitely use naan bread (I would stay away from a tortilla, too thin) however if you have an international store near you they most likely already sell this steam bun (usually frozen section) so I would suggest trying that first!

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