Posted in Experiments, Recipes

Tienjin Baozi

Tienjin Bao 1

I have published quite a number of posts featuring the Chinese dumplings commonly known as ‘Jiaozi’, all of which are comprised of fillings of one sort or another wrapped in a dough made simply of flour and water. The similar sounding ‘Baozi’, on the other hand, are formed with a leavened dough and are more ‘bun-like’ generally, although the steamed variety (as opposed to baked), are very like steamed or boiled jiaozi except in the texture of the skin.

I wanted to try using some of my Tienjin Pickled Vegetable in some sort of ‘bao’ after having used it with some pleasing results in jiaozi and I discovered, while doing a little research, that Tientsin is actually famous as the birthplace of a particular class of bao known as ‘Goubuli baozi’ (狗不理). The name has an interesting origin, which you can read at in more depth if you follow the preceding link, but it is commonly translated as ‘Dogs-will-ignore Dumplings’, and typically contains pork. For this experiment, I am not actually trying to reproduce any of the many varieties that exist (chiefly as I have never eaten them anywhere), and so I am simply calling this experiment ‘Tienjin Baozi’…

The Ingredients

  • Simple Bread Dough (a lump about the size of a baby’s head will suffice);
  • ¾ cup lean ground Pork, pre-cooked;
  • ¼ cup Pork Belly, fried and cut into small dice;
  • ½ cup Tienjin Pickled Vegetable (rinsed well to remove salt);
  • 1 tbsp. minced Garlic mashed to a paste;

The Method

Tienjin Bao 2

Mix together all the ingredients (except the dough, obviously) and set aside to let the flavors meld for a good 30 – 60 minutes.

Tienjin Bao 3

To begin, pinch of a walnut sized lump of dough and roll it out to a 3 – 4 inch diameter circle and place a heaped tablespoon of filling in the center.

Tienjin Bao 4

The wrapping method here is very much like that used for my Shu Mai post, except that the end result will be closed rather than open at the top.  Start pleating at one side of the circle and continue all the way around. As you do this, you will see that the dough begins to gather up around the filling forming a natural pouch.

Tienjin Bao 5

Once you have completed the pleating, pinch the edges together at the top. Repeat until all the dough is used up (you should get 15 – 20 finished baozi).

Tienjin Bao 6

Finally, steam over high heat for 20 minutes and then serve with the dipping sauce of your choice.

The Verdict

Well, sadly, the best I can say about this effort is… Meh! These didn’t turn out nearly as well as I hoped and I can identify the failings as follows:

  • I didn’t rinse the pickle well enough, resulting in too much saltiness;
  • The ratio of filling to wrapper was way too low; and,
  • The filling itself was too dry, too bland and lacked sparkle.

The first two flaws are easy to correct but the last one needs some thought. When I used the Tienjin pickle in jiaozi in the past, I used raw, rather than cooked, meat (resulting in a juicier result) and I also added some chili, which worked nicely. Some ginger, and maybe even a little sesame might help, but, as it was, this was just supremely uninteresting. A fail, I am afraid…

Anyway, if you are moved to try and improve on my results I would love to hear about it.



I am a lawyer by profession and my practice is Criminal... I mean, I specialize in Criminal law. My work involves travelling on Court circuits to remote Arctic communities. In between my travels I write a Food blog at

9 thoughts on “Tienjin Baozi

  1. Meh! hahahaha! I wasn’t expecting that outcome. They look so good and with those ingredients I’m not sure how you could lose. Maybe it was just that kind of day! I’d keep at it…to me they look like they have real possibility!

  2. Your spirit of experimenting is highly respected! It is a very difficult recipe, I must say. I missed my chance going to Tienjin with my friends few years ago. I stayed in Beijing with family before we went to Tibet. My friends said the 狗不理was the best of all!

  3. I have never tried to make dumplings, so I applaud your effort! I am sure with time you are going to master all of the “fails” that you described above in no time! They look delicious anyway!

    1. I make all sorts of unleavened dumplings… these buns are something I’ve only done a few times. Just steaming lumps of the dough without filling actually makes very nice buns just by themselves….

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