These sweet + spicy Braised Short Rib Steamed Buns (Bao) are such a treat. The beef short ribs are braised in tons of umami flavor including soy sauce, rice wine, brown sugar, chili paste, garlic, and ginger until meltingly tender. The succulent, sticky beef is piled in fluffy steamed buns with a vinegary slaw mixture. You’ll love these flavor-filled short rib bao buns that are so easy to make and delicious!

braised short rib steamed buns on blue floral plate

On today’s episode of restaurant-worthy recipes made at home, I present to ya these braised short rib steamed buns. Y’all, when I say that I can’t get enough of short ribs, gahhh. I’m often asked about where I get inspiration from when it comes to my recipes, and travel is one of them. These bao buns remind me of a little spot I once visited that had a memorable short rib appetizer.

Soy Braised Short Rib Steamed Buns 😍

Where do we begin? It all starts with beef short ribs that slow cook and braise in a melting pot of flavor until the meat is extra tender and succulent. The sticky braising liquid is perfectly balanced with salty and sweet notes, and loaded with umami savoriness with a touch of heat…a well-rounded powerhouse.

That meltingly tender beef soaks it all in and it is MEGA FLAVORFUL on its own, but we ain’t stopping there. We’re gonna make a quick vinegary slaw for a bit of crunchy texture, and pair the decadent short rib meat with it in fresh steamed buns. My goodness, it’s all so dang good and easier than you think!

black hand holding braised short rib steamed bun on blue floral plate

Listen, short ribs are one of my most favorite meats to cook with. They’re perfect for slow roasting and braising and you’re rewarded with fall-apart tender beef, mmm. These red wine braised short ribs are a reader favorite 🫶🏾!

What Is A Steamed Bun (Bao)?

In Asian culture, “bao” means bun. It’s also known by alternative names like baozi, steamed bun, or humbow. All in all, this type of bun is a yeast-leavened bun made from basics like flour, yeast, and baking powder. They’re pillowy soft and chewy in their texture after steaming. For these short rib steamed buns, we’ll be using gua bao buns which are a type of lotus leaf bun. Bao or steamed buns can be filled with a variety of fillings, the possibilities are truly endless.

⇢ You can typically find pre-made bao buns (in the freezer section) at your local Asian grocery market. I always enjoy perusing the shelves there!

ingredients for soy braised short ribs on beige surface

Ingredients Needed For The Braised Short Ribs:

(Note: the full ingredients list, including measurements, is provided in the recipe card directly below.)

  • Beef short ribs: The main star, peeps! You’ll need nice and meaty *English style/cut* bone-in, beef short ribs. Not to be confused with the thinner cousin, Flanken style/cut, that is common for Korean BBQ and other recipes. English short ribs are cut parallel to the bone as opposed to across from it…which basically means that the pieces are thick and fat and not thin/long. That ultra-meaty goodness is a dream in these short rib steamed buns!
  • Spices: Just salt + pepper to generously season the ribbies.
  • Olive oil: For browning/searing the short ribs.
  • Soy sauce: With a considerable amount of umami flavor, soy sauce delivers extra savoriness to the braise. It also enhances the color with its bold richness.
  • Shaoxing wine: This type of Chinese rice wine is used for cooking and adds an authentic flavor and lots of depth to the overall taste. You can find it online or at your local Chinese market. Although, I recognize that this ingredient may not be easily accessible. As such, you can use dry sherry or plain rice wine.
  • Brown sugar: Provides balance and that molasses sweetness is chefs kiss.
  • Maple syrup: Kicks up the sticky-icky sweetness.
  • Garlic + ginger: Adds so much aromatic, fragrant depth.
  • Chili paste: I use sambal oelek to bring a little heat to the braise.
  • Scallions: Fresh chopped scallions for more aromatic goodness.
  • Sliced chili pepper: An extra pop of heat- totally optional.
  • For the slaw mixture & serving: green cabbage, red cabbage, carrot, white vinegar, honey, sesame seeds, salt/pepper, and bao buns.

How To Make These Sweet & Spicy Braised Short Rib Steamed Buns- Part I:

(Note: please see the recipe card directly below for the complete written instructions.)

  1. Season & rest the short ribs: Generously season the short ribs with salt and pepper. Then set the short ribs aside to rest and to come up to room temperature for at least 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 325°F. 
  2. Brown the short ribs: In a deep dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. Once hot, add a few short ribs into the pot, working in batches, careful not to overcrowd. Sear the short ribs on all sides until a deep brown crust appears, about 2-3 minutes on each side. Then transfer the browned short ribs onto a clean plate/small baking sheet and repeat the process until all the short ribs are browned.
  3. Assemble the braise: Return the browned short ribs back into the pot along with any residual juices that have collected and shut off the heat. Add the soy sauce, water, shaoxing wine, brown sugar, maple syrup, garlic, ginger, chili paste, scallions, and sliced red chili pepper (if using)- carefully stir to combine everything.
  4. Braise the short ribs: Cover the pot with a lid and transfer the pot into the oven. Let the short ribs braise for 2 ½ – 3 hours, covered, until the ribs are meltingly tender and falling off the bone. About 20 minutes before the short ribs are done, prep the slaw and the buns.
soy braised short rib shredded in white pot with gold fork

Finishing & Serving- Part II:

  1. Make the slaw: In a large bowl, combine the green cabbage, red cabbage, julienned carrot, white vinegar, honey, sesame seeds, and salt/pepper- to taste. Toss the slaw until well combined and cover the bowl. Transfer the slaw into the fridge to chill until ready to use.
  2. Steam the buns: Steam the bao buns according to your package directions.
  3. Assemble the steamed buns & serve: Back to the braised short ribs, use two forks to shred the beef. Stir the beef in the braising liquid and let sit for a few minutes for it to soak up the flavors. Then set up your steamed bun station with the slaw, buns, and braised short rib. Grab a bun and add an even amount of slaw and top with the braised beef. Serve these soy braised short rib steamed buns immediately and enjoy!
ingredients for soy braised short rib steamed buns on beige surface

An unbeatable level of delicious magic happens with braising: the meat’s connective tissues tenderize and break down while absorbing the flavors that it’s accompanied with in the pot. The process of braising short ribs does take a few hours due to the slow cooking process, but man, the wait is worth it. Friends, the soy braised beef is super rich and succulent. Piling all that flavorful, tender meat into fluffy steamed buns with crunchy slaw is heaven in ya mouth, ha! 👅

Whether it’s my Chinese Restaurant Chicken Wings, these Hibachi Steak Bowls, or this Cumin Beef Stir Fry recipe…we love asian-inspired eats!

braised short rib steamed buns on blue floral plate with striped linen

Make-Ahead Braised Short Rib Bao

These soy braised short rib steamed buns are a great make ahead type of situation! You can make both the braised short ribs and the slaw mixture up to 2 days in advance. Keep both of them stored inside of separate airtight containers in the refrigerator. On the day of serving, heat the braised short rib in the microwave or on the stovetop over low heat until warmed through. Then steam the bao buns and assemble your braised short rib bao. Yay!

soy braised short rib steamed buns on blue floral plate with slaw

These Braised Short Rib Steamed Buns are damn good and make for a knockout appetizer/snack centerpiece! Be sure to tag @butterbeready in your BBR recipe creations, I sure love to see it when you do. Until next time! 🤟🏾

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braised short rib steamed buns on blue floral plate

Sweet & Spicy Soy Braised Short Rib Steamed Buns (Bao)

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 2 reviews
  • Author: Quin Liburd
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 3 hours
  • Total Time: 3 hours 20 minutes
  • Yield: 1015 1x
  • Category: Appetizers & Snacks
  • Method: Braise
  • Cuisine: Asian-Inspired
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Description

These sweet + spicy Braised Short Rib Steamed Buns (Bao) are such a treat. The beef short ribs are braised in tons of umami flavor including soy sauce, rice wine, brown sugar, chili paste, garlic, and ginger until meltingly tender. The succulent, sticky beef is piled in fluffy steamed buns with a vinegary slaw mixture. You’ll love these flavor-filled short rib bao buns that are so easy to make and delicious!


Ingredients

Scale

For the Braised Short Ribs:

  • 3 lbs bone-in beef short ribs, English-cut
  • Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 12 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¾ cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • ¾ cup water
  • ¼ cup Shaoxing wine (or any dry sherry cooking wine)
  • ⅓ cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon garlic paste
  • 1 tablespoon ginger paste
  • 24 teaspoons chili paste (I use Sambal Oelek)
  • 4 scallions, chopped
  • 1 small red chili pepper, sliced- optional

For the Slaw & Serving:

  • 2 cups green cabbage, shredded
  • 1 cup red cabbage, shredded
  • 1 medium carrot, julienned
  • 3 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
  • Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1015 pre-made bao buns, from local Asian market

Instructions

  1. Season & rest the short ribs: Generously season the short ribs with salt and pepper on all sides. Then set the short ribs aside to rest and to come up to room temperature for at least 30 minutes. Afterwards, go ahead and preheat the oven to 325°F. 
  2. Brown the short ribs: In a deep dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. Once hot, gently swirl the pot around to evenly coat the bottom. Add a few short ribs into the pot, working in batches, careful not to overcrowd. Sear the short ribs on all sides until a deep brown crust appears, about 2-3 minutes on each side. Then transfer the browned short ribs onto a clean plate/small baking sheet and repeat the process until all the short ribs are browned- adding an additional tablespoon of oil into the pot as needed.
  3. Assemble the braise: Return the browned short ribs back into the pot along with any residual juices that have collected and shut off the heat. Add the soy sauce, water, shaoxing wine, brown sugar, maple syrup, garlic, ginger, chili paste, scallions, and sliced red chili pepper (if using)- carefully stir to combine everything.
  4. Braise the short ribs: Cover the pot with a lid and transfer the pot into the oven. Let the short ribs braise for 2 ½ – 3 hours, covered, until the ribs are meltingly tender and falling off the bone. About 20 minutes before the short ribs are done, prep the slaw and the buns.
  5. Make the slaw: In a large bowl, combine the green cabbage, red cabbage, julienned carrot, white vinegar, honey, sesame seeds, and salt/pepper- to taste. Toss the slaw until well combined and cover the bowl. Transfer the slaw into the fridge to chill until ready to use.
  6. Steam the buns: Steam the bao buns according to your package directions. A steamer/steaming pot with an insert is helpful for these.
  7. Assemble the steamed buns & serve: Back to the braised short ribs, use two forks (or your hands fitted with disposable gloves, if desired) to shred the beef. Stir the beef in the braising liquid and let sit for a few minutes for it to soak up the flavors. Then set up your steamed bun station with the slaw, buns, and braised short rib. Grab a bun and add an even amount of slaw and top with the braised beef. I like to spoon more of the braising liquid over the assembled bun, mmm. Serve these soy braised short rib steamed buns immediately. Enjoy!

Notes

  1. Please read blog post in its entirety for more tips + tricks.