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Seremban 'Siew Pau'

Seremban 'Siew Pau'

‘Siew Pao’ is a type of Malaysian snack. It is pleated just like a steamed pao (steamed bun) except the it is baked in the oven. The filling usually consisted of BBQ pork and green peas, and it tastes savory and yet a little sweet. The pastry dough is made using water dough and oil dough to create layers. In Malaysia, Seremban is the town that makes Siew Pao popular so people always call this snack Seremban Siew Pao.

I love most Chinese pastries that calls for water dough and oil dough– the finished baked goods are so flaky that I just couldn’t resist. However, it’s lots of work to make such pastries. This time when I made Seremban ‘siew pao’ I encounter a problem as my pao’s won’t seal tight– the pastry dough keeps shrinking back after I pinch them up tight… and thus creating a hole on the top of the pao, and of course some filling sauce leaked out during baking. Oh well, they taste delicious nonetheless.

Seremban 'Siew Pau'-- check out the flaky layered pastry

Seremban 'Siew Pau'-- check out the flaky layered pastry skin

Malaysian Baked Pastry ‘Seremban Siew Pao’ Recipe (makes 18 pieces)


for filling:
1 lb BBQ pork ‘char siew’– cut into small dice then roughly finely chop to get some fine texture
1/3 cup frozen green peas– rinse then drain
1 small onion– chop into small pieces
2 tbsp oyster sauce
3 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
3 tbsp hot water
cornstarch water (3 tbsp cornstarch mix with 2 tbsp water)

Prepare filling: Heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan and saute onion until fragrant. Add remaining ingredients (except cornstarch water) and stir to combine. Add cornstarch water (stir it before adding) and stir until the sauce thickens and looks gluey. Set aside to cool down. Note: filling can be prepared ahead of time and kept in the fridge or freezer.

Water dough (recipe from Jo’s Deli & Bakery):
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
4 tbsp oil
2 1/2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp honey or maple syrup
120 ml water (slightly more than 1/2 cup)

Oil dough (recipe from Jo’s Deli & Bakery):
3/4 cup all purpose flour
7 tbsp cold shortening— cold shortening makes the dough less sticky

  1. Prepare water dough: Rub oil with flour until crumbly. Dissolve sugar and honey/syrup in water then add to the flour mixture. Knead the dough until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and rest for 30 minutes. Divide and shape into 18 small balls. Flatten each ball with palm then roll out to a 2-inch circle.
  2. Prepare oil dough: Rub shortening into flour and slowly form a soft dough. If the dough gets too sticky to handle, chill in the fridge for a few minutes. Divide into 18 pieces and roll into small balls.
  3. Take 1 piece of oil dough to wrap inside 1 piece of water dough and seal well. Be sure to wrap tightly and eliminate any air pocket. Flatten the dough with your palm then roll it out into a long oval thin dough using a rolling pin. Roll the dough up like a Swiss roll.
  4. Turn the dough 90°, flatten it and roll it out thin. Then roll it up like a Swiss roll. Repeat step 3-4 with the remaining water dough and oil dough.
  5. Take 1 piece of pastry dough, pinch the long ends together then flatten it so the dough is roughly round shape. Roll the dough out to a thin 5-inch circle. Scoop in 2 tbsp of filling. Pinch and seal tightly (be sure no air pocket inside, and seal really tight otherwise the filling will leak out during baking).
  6. Brush egg wash on top of the pastries. Bake in preheated 390°F oven for 25-30 minutes until nicely brown on the surface. Apply egg wash half way through baking. Cool on the rack.

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