Hua Juan (Steamed Scallion Buns)

April 14, 2014
2 Ratings
Photo by Julia Gartland
  • Makes 12 buns
Author Notes

Hua juan are steamed buns flavored with scallions and twisted to look kind of like a flower (hua juan means "flower twist" in Mandarin).

It's a yeasted dough, so you'll have to plan ahead to allow time for the dough to rise and then for the shaped buns to proof. Also, you'll need a way to steam the buns; I use my stock pot with the pasta insert and steamer insert for two layers of steamy goodness. —Joy Huang | The Cooking of Joy

Test Kitchen Notes

This is a simple yeasted white dough, made of all-purpose flour, instant yeast, milk, and sugar; not too wet, not too dry, it's a dream to shape and roll. And because the buns are steamed rather than baked, they're soft and fluffy all the way through—ideal for dipping in a spicy or vinegary dish or eating on the run, when you don't want to grapple with the crumbs of a crusty loaf.

Joy suggests using any leftover hua juan for lobster rolls, either with brown butter vinaigrette or ginger-scallion sauce.

You can find a step-by-step guide to shaping these buns in the story, Stunning Steamed Buns Are Impressive to Look at but Simple to Make, sponsored by Miele. In step 7 of this recipe, you can steam a bunch of buns at once by using a combi-steam oven instead of using a steamer basket and a stock pot. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • For the dough:
  • 1 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1 cup milk, heated to 90 to 95° F
  • 3 cups (360 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • For the scallion-sesame glaze:
  • 4 tablespoons chopped scallions, green parts only
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  1. Dissolve the yeast in the warm milk until it foams and smells yeasty. Mix in the rest of the ingredients for the dough (flour, oil, and sugar) and knead, either by hand or in a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, until you have a smooth ball. Cover with a damp cloth or seal tightly with plastic wrap and let proof in a warm place until doubled in size, 1 to 2 hours. [Editor's note: Joy proofs her dough in an oven that's on the lowest setting.]
  2. Mix together the ingredients for the scallion-sesame glaze and allow to macerate at room temperature. Cut out 12 squares of parchment paper, about 4- by 4-inches.
  3. After the dough has doubled in size, punch it down, transfer it to a lightly-floured work surface, and then separate into 12 egg-sized pieces.
  4. Roll each piece into a long oval and slash into long strips, leaving a 1/4-inch section attached at one end. Brush lightly with the glaze.
  5. Pick up the dough with both hands, twist like a cheese straw, and tuck the ends underneath to shape the buns and place on a square of parchment paper. (Here's a small video to show you how:
  6. Place the shaped buns into baking pans (I have to use 2 pans to fit all 12 buns) and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Place the pans in a warm spot (or back in the warm oven) for another 40 to 60 minutes to proof.
  7. Steam the buns for 13 minutes. Using my stock pot with my pasta insert and steamer basket, I can steam 6 buns at a time (3 on each level).
  8. If not not eating immediately, transfer to a freezer bag once it has cooled and freeze. To reheat, wrap with plastic wrap or put in a fold-and-close sandwich bag and microwave for 45 seconds.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • aargersi
  • cucina di mammina
    cucina di mammina
  • Joy Huang | The Cooking of Joy
    Joy Huang | The Cooking of Joy
  • elsiecat

8 Reviews

elsiecat April 19, 2018
Joy, I found this years ago on TCOJ, and have been making these and a red-bean-paste variation ever since. They're so addictive I have to make a double batch every time because we finish a mere dozen too quickly! I actually went to the Chinese Market and bought a big Myland stovetop steamer in order to do that :-))))

When I can get a big batch made without my husband scarfing down too many at once, I freeze the extras and they are the most convenient, delectable breakfast imaginable. Thanks for introducing so many of us to the world of steamed buns!
Joy H. April 19, 2018
You're welcome! Haha, I think that's the first time I've seen the name of my blog abbreviated! It makes it seem more legit for some reason. =)
Stephanie G. April 1, 2018
Just like you said, Joy, these were so easy and so yummy (sweet and soft!). Your video really helped, too! Wish I could post a pic to show you how well they came out.
Joy H. April 2, 2018
Aww, thanks for the review!
aargersi April 23, 2014
Your video makes it look so easy :-) I think I need to give these a try!
Joy H. April 23, 2014
I have to admit, it does take a bit of practice to make it look so easy, but regardless of how they look, they're still super yummy!
cucina D. April 17, 2014
These are just amazing! Thank you for sharing this recipe, I will be making them very soon for my family... we just love this style dish :)
Joy H. April 17, 2014
You're welcome! I love them too.