I have always considered myself quite a nice person. I like food of all shapes, flavours and colours. From every country and continent. I don’t discriminate, I am an equal opportunity eater. It’s only the doctors who say I’m intolerant. And certain foods who refuse to tolerate me. They certainly refuse to recognise and respect my right to eat them without major physical discomfort and distress.

Gluten and lactose are not my friends.

Despite the negative attitudes surrounding me from many of those I love best, (cakes, ice cream, hot toast) I decided to become a chef. Not always easy when you live in a bread and milk filled world. I like to think that this has helped me become a better person as I embrace my differences and refuse to let the gluten get me down. I believe InTolerance. I am the InTolerant Chef.

Food should not be about what you can’t eat, but what you can and what you enjoy eating. This blog is about my journey of cooking and eating and discovery. It’s not a definitive guide to allergy awareness nor do my intolerances make me an expert. Your body is your responsibility, not mine. I only know what works for me.

I can tell you this..... No glutens were harmed in the making of this website.

February 11, 2014

Steamed Chinese Pork Buns- Char Siu Bao


I find it really interesting that the most popular post I've ever written is the one for my Gluten Free Chinese Dumplings , closely followed by Steamed Coconut Buns

Yum Cha or Dim Sum, is one of the most wonderful meals in the world- at least if you listen to my littlej, and though often taking my health in my hands, we occaisionally venture out into the great unknown and indulge.
Now sometimes it's all good. The staff are friendly and helpful, my little printed cards in Chinese stating that I'm allergic to wheat are recognised, and we have a great time. Other times..... not so much. Really the only way to be sure of food purity and no cross contamination is to build up a decent repitoire of dishes and recreate the whole Yum Cha experience here at home

I know that it sounds like a whole lot of work, but I like to make a whole heap of each item at a sitting, then divvy them up into meal lots and freeze them. That way I have a mix of goodies for steaming or baking and Yum Cha or Dim Sum is just half an hour away whenever the mood takes us! Win Win! It's well and truly worth it and can be a whole lot of fun too

The very original recipe for these buns comes from Jamie Oliver, but I've tizzied them up a bit to suit the style of dough I wanted and I think it works just fine. I haven't given a recipe yet for the BBQ pork but it will be coming soon. If I'm in a hurry I usually pick some up at our local Chinese BBQ house with no problem- just make sure it's definitely gluten free. If you're really stuck, just use minced pork instead

Changs and Ayam make great gluten free Asian sauces

BBQ Pork Filling

300 gm gf BBQ Pork
1/2 cup Water
2 tab gf Oyster Sauce
2 tab gf HoiSin Sauce
2 tab Honey
1 tsp Sesame Oil
3 tsp Cornflour
3 tsp Cold Water

Chop the pork into nice little pieces, you don't want to be tearing huge chunks apart inside your bun

Pop the 1/2 cup water, sauces, honey and sesame oil into a fry pan. Bring to the boil while stirring to bring it all together

Add in the pork and stir to coat it all in delicousness

Mix the cornflour and cold water into a slurry, add about 2/3 of it into the pork mixture and stir, stir, to thicken up
Now this needs to be fairly thick but still loose and not dry, so adjust the thickening with a touch more slurry or thin it back down with a bit more water as necessary

Let all the yumminess cool in the fridge for an hour or so
The mixture will always thicken further when cooled but that's a good thing as it makes it easier to fill the buns later

Fluffy Bun Recipe

1 tin Coconut Milk
2 tins worth gluten free SR Flour
2 tabs Oil or Lard
2 tab Castor Sugar
3 tsp gf Baking Powder
big pinch Salt

Pop all the ingredients into a food processor and whizz it up quickly until all combined and it turns into a slightly soft, sticky dough

Tip it out, then gently knead it into a solid round. Divide the dough into 16 even pieces

Pat each piece of dough into a small round that will comfortably fit on your hand. Try to make the edges a bit thinner than the centre

Slightly cup the dough, then place a good teaspoon of filling into the middle

I pull the edges together in a triangle to start the pretty flower bud shape, but as long as it's all enclosed that's all that really matters

Pinch the opposite sides together

Finished product!

All ready to go- not really perfect, but that's fine

Steam away happily for about 10 minutes, or until glossy and cooked through and not doughy in the middle

Steamy hot and ready to eat

The dough should be soft and a bit fluffy- but remember these are gluten free and will never be as light as air as 'regular' flour buns. I haven't found a fool proof method of replicating that soft, billowiness yet, but as long as you realise the limitations of gluten free flour you should be OK

Definitely at their best served hot and soft with the filling oozing out deliciously, a real Yummy Cha treat indeed!

So Dear Readers, what's your favourite Yum Cha/ Dim Sum dish and restaurant to go to?

Other delicious Yum Cha or Dim Sum posts you might enjoy:

Thai Pearl Dumplings

Stuffed Eggplant

Spring Rolls

Mango Pudding



  1. They look amazingly good Rebecca! I'll swap you a Paris-brest for these in a heartbeat! :D

    1. Oh I wish they would post Lorraine, but I think we'd both end up with clumps of crumbs instead :( Your dessert was simply stunning! xox

  2. I'll take both the buns AND the Paris-brest if you don't mind. You two are hitting the hot spots today.

    1. Thanks Maureen! It would be a great dinner, wouldn't it? :)

  3. I wish I was close enough to try one of your buns!! Although Mr GG would have eaten them all if we were visiting, this is his favourite dish of all time! I will have to try your recipe for the bun component.

    1. littlej loves them too Julie, and we have to get so many extra at yumcha just for her. I'm sure your buns will be nice and fluffy if you're using 'regular' flour :) x

  4. These look so delicious, Rebecca and I remember your other posts well and am not surprised they have been so popular. One of my most popular recipes is slow-cooked beef cheeks and that was something I made after seeing your inspiring beef-cheek recipe on your blog xx

    1. Thanks Charlie, that's a real compliment coming from you :) Aren't beef cheeks scrummy? You should be able to eat them with a spoon xox

  5. These look so good! I don't know if I'll ever prepare them at home for myself but I sure will scan dim sum menus for them whenever I'm in a restaurant.

    1. Thanks indeed :) You can buy these at any Chinese grocer over here- but not gluten free of course. I'm driven to great lengths to get my fix of gluten free deliciousness, I'm not sure if it's inspiration or greediness! :)

  6. Becca, you're REALLY clever! I've just made my first regular csbs, and they were delish but quite a lot of work - I have not idea how you made such a magnificent gluten free version! Genius.. :) xxx

    1. Celia, I think anything you touch would be wonderful- especially if it's made with dough! I'd like to try for a real yeasted version next, I think they could still be a bit softer yet. xox

  7. Wow! I've never even attempted these but you make them look so easy and flufffy (despite it being GF!)

    1. Thanks MsIhua! I don't see why I should miss out on all the best goodies just because of gluten- even if I do have to make them myself :)

  8. I was inspired to read your blog when I saw a similar post like this. Not that I necessarily aspire to make gluten free, it's just that you are so clever. ( and went to a school full of bullies and survived!)

    1. Don't skip the gluten if you don't have to Tania, it certainly does make cooking with dough so much easier. I loved your cake recipe last post, and hope your poor sister was able to eat it without flashbacks :) x

  9. YUM. These look unreal, so impressive! I should really give them a go, what's my excuse?
    Heidi xo

  10. Replies
    1. The tin referred to is the tin or can that holds the coconut milk. Using the tin or can is just a simple way to ensure the measurements are the same and a good way to save on washing up:)

  11. hello, please recommend a good GF hoisin sauce brand. I live in Canada so not sure if we have any. Also BBQ pork as far as I know always has soy sauce added so i don't think its gluten free if it is store bought.

    1. I really like the brand Changs or Ayam. I don't know what is available in Canada though. The best way to find out if the bbq pork available is gluten free is to ask. If it's not available you could supply the shop with some gluten free soy sauce and request them to make it for you. If you are still worried about cross contamination, it's probably best to make your own.

  12. What is gluten free SF flour? Is it a specific brand of gluten free flour?

    1. Gluten free flour is a blend of flour from grains etc. not containing wheat or gluten. The SR stands for Self Raising which means it contains a raising agent like baking powder or such already mixed through the flour blend. My personal favourite brand of gluten free flour is White Wings, it performs really well in all circumstances. Hope this helps :)