Top: Asado siopao; Bottom: A dessert siopao with chocolate filling
Place of originPhilippines
Main ingredientsPork, Flour, Soy Sauce, Salt
VariationsSiopao asado, Siopao bola bola, Toasted siopao, Fried siopao, Paowaw, other dessert variants
Food energy
(per serving)
330 kcal (1382 kJ)
Similar dishesBaozi (China), Char siu bao (China), Siu pao (Marshall Islands), Salapao (Thailand), Manapua (Hawaii), Keke Pua'a (Samoa & American Samoa)

Siopao (Tagalog pronunciation: [ˈʃopaʊ]), is a Philippine steamed bun with various fillings. It is the indigenized version of the Fujianese baozi, introduced to the Philippines by Hokkien immigrants during the Spanish colonial period. It is a popular snack in the Philippines and is commonly sold by bakeries and restaurants.[1][2]


Siopao is derived from the baozi, introduced by Hokkien Chinese immigrants to the Philippines during the Spanish colonial period. The name is derived from Philippine Hokkien sio-pau (simplified Chinese: 烧包; traditional Chinese: 燒包; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Sio-pau; lit. 'hot bun').[2] Historically, the most popular siopao buns in Manila were the ones made by restaurateur Ma Mon Luk at the turn of the 20th century.[2]

Siopao differs from the baozi in that it is much larger and is eaten held in the hands like a sandwich. It also uses different traditional fillings. The most common fillings are pork asado (indigenized braised version of the Cantonese char siu) and bola-bola (literally "meatball", a combination of pork, chicken, beef, shrimp or salted duck egg). Siopao uses leavened wheat flour and is traditionally steamed, but a baked version (also called "toasted siopao") can be baked directly in ovens without steaming. A popular variant called "fried siopao" fries the bottom of the siopao in a greased skillet after steaming. Another dish that evolved from the siopao is the asado roll, which uses regular bread dough and is baked.[2][3][4][5]

Traditional siopao is also typically accompanied with a sweet "siopao sauce" (made from cornstarch, soy sauce, sugar, garlic, and other ingredients), which is injected or spread unto the filling before eating. Plain ketchup (either tomato ketchup or banana ketchup) is also used in the same way. In contrast to the baozi which is eaten dipped in a soy sauce or vinegar mixture.[6][7]

A unique variant from Siargao Island is the paowaw, a dessert bun which has a filling of bukayo (sweetened shredded coconut meat).[8]

In other countries

Siopao was also introduced to Guam (then a part of the Philippines), with the same name. From there it has spread further into the Marshall Islands, where it is known as siu pao.[2]

Similar dishes

Main article: Baozi

There is a similar dish in Thai cuisine called salapao (Thai: ซาลาเปา), which is sometimes made with a sweet filling for a dessert.[9] Similar buns have also been introduced in Hawaii where it is called manapua, and in Samoa and the American Samoa, where it is called keke pua'a.[2]

In popular culture

There is an urban legend about the snack alleging that cat meat is used in the production of siopao. According to historians, this story could have came from a certain sentiment towards the Chinese Filipino community or it was theorized that it could have been a smear campaign by competitors or illegitimate children from a Chinese family which runs a siopao business.[10]

See also


  1. ^ Haw-Ang, Frances Lorraine (August 25, 2010). "Top 10 Siopao in Manila". Retrieved December 21, 2010.
  2. ^ a b c d e f De Leon, Adrian (2016). "Siopao and Power: The Place of Pork Buns in Manila's Chinese History". Gastronomica. 16 (2): 45–54. doi:10.1525/gfc.2016.16.2.45. JSTOR 26362345.
  3. ^ "Siopao Asado Recipe". Panlasang Pinoy. June 17, 2021. Retrieved September 8, 2022.
  4. ^ "Siopao Asado (Filipino Steamed Pork Buns)". Hungry Huy. October 3, 2020. Retrieved September 8, 2022.
  5. ^ "Toasted (Baked) Siopao and Fried Siopao". Panlasang Pinoy Meaty Recipes. Retrieved September 8, 2022.
  6. ^ "Special Siopao Sauce Recipe". Panlasang Pinoy. February 6, 2010. Retrieved September 8, 2022.
  7. ^ "Siopao". Philippine Food Blog. July 25, 2013. Retrieved September 8, 2022.
  8. ^ Damo, Ida (April 4, 2014). "Two Unique Snacks from Surigao: Paowaw & Milledo". ChoosePhilippines. Archived from the original on July 28, 2019. Retrieved July 28, 2019.
  9. ^ "Salapao – Chinese Steamed Buns". January 15, 2010. Archived from the original on February 27, 2011. Retrieved December 21, 2010.
  10. ^ "Ang Pinaka: Ten popular Pinoy urban legends". GMA News. October 17, 2014. Retrieved August 7, 2018.