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A steamer filled with Chinese steamed scallion buns.

Chinese Steamed Buns with Scallions (Hua Juan)

  • Author: Alexandra Stafford
  • Prep Time: 3 hours
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours 15 minutes
  • Yield: 12 buns


From Cynthia Chen McTernan’s A Common Table

As always, a digital scale is recommended when measuring flour for bread.

This is really nice with Okonomiyaki (Cabbage Pancakes), and it would wonderful aside Red-Cooked Pork Belly and Simple Cucumber Salad as well.


for the dough:

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 3 cups (375 g) all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon nonfat dry milk powder (optional)

for the buns:

  • 1 cup finely sliced scallions, from 8 to 10
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

for serving:

  • sea salt, optional
  • soy dipping sauce, I like this one, optional


  1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring the milk to a gentle boil. Remove pan from heat. Let cool till 100ºF to 110ºF. Stir in the oil.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, yeast, sugar, milk powder (if using), and salt. Add the milk-oil mixture to the flour bowl, and stir to form a dough ball.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 6 to 8 minutes. Return dough to bowl and let rise in a warm spot for at least 2 hours or as as long as 24 in the refrigerator.
  4. In a small bowl, stir together the scallions, oil, and salt. Cut out twelve 6-inch square pieces of parchment paper. Lightly flour a work surface.
  5. Turn dough out onto prepared work surface. Punch down to deflate. Using a knife or bench scraper, divide the dough into 12 pieces and shape each roughly into a ball. Using a rolling pin, roll each into a 4×6-inch oval. Working with one oval at a time, slice ribbons lengthwise into the oval, leaving about 1/2 inch at the top of the oval intact—video guidance for this cutting/shaping process can be found here; skip ahead to frames 14-16 for shaping guidance. Brush or spoon about 1 tablespoon of the scallion mixture across the dough. Pick up each end of the oval, gently pull outward, then twist into a coil. Then, twist the coil into a knot. Place the knot on a sheet of parchment paper. Repeat process with remaining ovals until all 12 knots are shaped. Let rest 30-40 minutes.
  6. Prepare a steamer basket. If using a wok with a bamboo insert, bring 2 inches of water to a boil, being sure water does not touch the bottom of the steamer basket. If using a pot with steamer insert, fill with water, again being sure water does not touch the bottom of the steamer basket, and bring to a boil.
  7. Place 3 to 4 scallion knots with parchment paper into steamer. Cover. Reduce heat so that water is just simmering. Steam for 15 minutes.
  8. Serve warm sprinkled with sea salt, if you wish, or a soy dipping sauce.
  9. Leftovers can be frozen and reheated in a steamer or microwave (about 15 seconds).
  • Category: Bread
  • Method: Steamed
  • Cuisine: Chinese

Keywords: Chinese, steamed, buns, scallions, Hua Juan