Bison Bao

Steamed buns filled with a variety of meat and vegetables are a dim sum classic. This version is bison filled and spiced with ginger, garlic and chili paste but season the filling to your liking if you’re in the mood for something a bit more spicy. These buns also freeze beautifully, and reheat well popped back into a steamer from frozen. Any sort of steamer with a flat bottom will work but I suggest you invest in a bamboo steamer, it will make reheating them incredibly simple and bamboo steamers are a great way to quickly cook most leafy greens, shrimp and even some cuts of fish.

Makes 24 filled buns


Bison Filling

1 tsp toasted sesame oil

1 small onion, finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and grated

1 pound ground bison

1 teaspoon chili paste (sambal oelek or sriracha would work well)

½ cup chicken stock

1 Tbsp hoisin sauce

1 Tbsp oyster sauce

Steamed Dough

1 Tbsp yeast

2 Tbsp plus 1 ½ teaspoons sugar

1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour, divided

¾ cup warm water

1 Tbsp canola oil

½ tsp baking powder


To make the filling:

1. In a frying pan over medium high heat, add the sesame oil and heat until shimmering. Add the onion, garlic and ginger and cook until beginning to soften – about 5 minutes. Add the bison and cook, stirring often until it browns – about 7 minutes.

Add chili paste, stock, hoisin sauce and oyster sauce and cook until all the liquid has fully reduced, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

To make the dough:

1. In a small bowl mix together yeast, 1 ½ teaspoons sugar, ¼ cup of the flour and ¼ cup of the warm water and let sit until bubbling, about 30 minutes.

2. Add remaining water, flour, sugar and the canola oil to the mixture and knead until smooth and elastic – about 6 minutes. Lightly coat the dough with oil and let sit in a bowl covered with a tea towel in a warm place until it triples in volume. Depending on how warm your area, this could take between one and three hours.

3. Punch down dough and sprinkle with baking powder, knead for 5 minutes. Divide the dough into 24 evenly sized pieces and shape each piece into a ball. Place all the balls on a lined baking sheet and let stand for 30 minutes.

Assemble and cook:

1. Place a parchment lined steamer over a pot of boiling water. Roll each ball of dough flat with a rolling pin, then place 1 tablespoon of filling in the centre and pinch the dough around the filling to seal. Repeat with all remaining dough and filling.

2. Place buns in the steamer leaving 1 to 2 inches between each bun, then cover and cook for 15 minutes. Repeat with all remaining buns and serve hot with chili oil.

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