What to Serve with Bao Buns

Written By Lewis Crutch


Bao buns can be a meal on their own and are the perfect light dinner or lunch option. But, what if you want to make those bao buns go a little further? What if you want to bulk your meal out. Here is what to serve with bao buns:

9 Dishes to Serve with Bao Buns

Below are our 9 options for what to serve alongside bao buns – some cold, some hot, some small and some large. There should be something on this list that whets your appetite:

1) Cucumber Salad

The fillings of some bao buns can be quite rich and intense which is why a refreshing cucumber salad that can cut through all that richness is one of the best side dishes to serve up with bao buns.

What’s great about a cucumber salad is that it takes little effort, no time and very few ingredients to knock together.

Use a vegetable peeler to create ribbons of thin cucumber and place in a bowl. Dress with 1-part rice wine vinegar and 2-part sesame oil. Sprinkle over some black and white sesame seeds, a finely diced red chilli and a few strips of lemons zest. Toss in the bowl and then lay out on a plate to enjoy.

2) Edamame Beans

Edamame beans are a refreshing snack to enjoy in between bites of a bao bun. They’re also one of the quickest and easy side dishes to serve alongside bao.

Add raw edamame beans to a pot of boiling water for around 3 to 4 minutes until just tender. Drain and then season with a liberal pinch of salt, ensuring each pod has a little coating.

3) Steamed Pak Choi

Pak choi (or bok choy) is one of the go-to vegetables to serve up alongside any Asian-inspired meal so it was an obvious choice to include on this list of dishes to serve with bao buns.

You can keep it simple by steaming it for 3 to 4 minutes until tender before dressing it with a splash of soy sauce. Fortunately, pak choi is a great carrier of flavours so you can also dress it with chillies, ginger, garlic and sesame.

4) Grilled or Barbecued Broccoli

The go-to solution for cooking broccoli is to boil or steam it – and there’s nothing wrong with that. But grilling it adds a nutty, smoky bite to the tops of each floret.

Blanch individual florets for a couple of minutes in boiling water. Once drained and steam dried, season with salt, some grated garlic and ginger and cover lightly in a little olive oil. Place under a hot grill or over coals and grill for a few minutes until it begins to char.

Once charred, you can dress with a drizzle of sesame oil and a sprinkle of salt and toasted sesame seeds if you want to add a little Asian-inspired flavour to the broccoli.

5) Carrot Salad

Much like the first option on this list of side dishes, a carrot salad can cut through the richness of a bao bun that’s filled with meat and sauce. You need something sharp and acidic to contrast with the rich filling.

Fortunately, a pickled carrot salad achieves all of this without being complex to throw together. Julienne carrots into thin strips then dress with equal quantities of sesame seeds, sesame oil and rice wine vinegar plus a splash of soy sauce.

Ideally leave it to sit for an hour or so to allow the carrot to soak up all those delicious flavours.

7) Other Dumplings and Dim Sum

Of course, the easiest thing to serve up with your bao buns is a mix of other steamed goodies. Siu mai, har gau, potstickers and even spring rolls would all work well alongside bao buns.

The only downside is that it can all be a bit… Beige. Picking one of the green, bright options from this list to serve alongside your dumplings is still a good idea.

8) Dipping Sauces

There are a number of sauces you can make to dip bao buns (and other dumplings) into. It all comes down to personal preference, of course.

Some sauces you could try include: Ginger and vinegar, hot chilli, garlic and vinegar, soy and sesame, sichuan pepper sauce and hot and sour sauce. If you want inspiration then check out these 6 dumpling sauces.

9) Egg-Fried Rice

One of the go-to side dishes for any Asian meal has got to be egg-fried rice and it’s why it has to be included on this list (even if it is last).

Cooked rice is stir-fried with a beaten egg and a splash of soy sauce to create perfectly seasoned rice.

Bao Bun Accompaniments FAQs

Do you still have questions about what to serve alongside bao buns? Then these FAQs might help you out:

What is the Best Dipping Sauce for Bao Buns?

There are a number of dipping sauces that work well with bao buns and it comes down to personal preference. A hot chilli sauce works well for some people as does a simple soy, sesame and rice wine vinegar sauce.

What is Traditionally Served with Bao Buns?

Traditionally, bao buns are simply served on their own with a dipping sauce or are served alongside lots of other steamed buns as part of a meal.

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