Pork Belly Baos

Fluffy baos stuffed with crunchy vegetables and tender savory pork belly



Sweet, savory, fatty pork belly topped with crunchy vegetables, encompassed in a pillowy steamed bao bun. Gua bao, also known as pork belly buns is a popular Asian street food originated from China but enjoyed all throughout Asia. Gua baos are known for its white lotus leaf style bun that is steamed and has a wonderfully fluffy texture. Stuffed inside is tender braised pork belly and traditionally garnished with pickled mustard greens, coriander and crushed peanuts. This recipe for pork belly baos is a variation of the traditional gua bao. The braise is different in flavor and the garnishes consist of julienned carrots, sliced cucumbers, sliced chilis and scallions for added freshness. You may find similar versions in American ramen restaurants or other Asian fusions restaurants and it nevertheless is delicious and pays homage to its origins.


Ingredients:


1/2 lb skin on pork belly

3 cloves garlic

1 knob ginger

2 star anise pods

2 tbsp brown sugar

1 tbsp oyster sauce

2 tbsp light soy sauce

1 tbsp sake

1/4 cup water

Pinch of salt and white pepper


Garnishes:

Pickled vegetables such as mustard greens, onions, cucumbers, carrots and daikon

Scallion

Cilantro

Sliced chilis

Peanuts

Sesame seeds


Visual Directions:



Prepare ingredients by slicing pork belly, peeling garlic, ginger. Measure the brown sugar, light soy sauce, oyster sauce and sake and combine. Lightly season the pork belly with salt and white pepper.



In a skillet or braising pot, bring the heat up to medium high and sear the pork belly on both sides until lightly browned then set aside on a plate. Add the aromatics: garlic, ginger and star anise pods. Stir and cook for 30 seconds. Pour in the sake to deglaze the pot and scrape and use a wooden spatula to gently scrape the brown bits on the bottom. Add the pork belly back into the pot and pour the sauce mixture then allow it to come to a boil.



Once the pork has come to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer, cover the pot with a lid and braise for 1 hour. While the pork is cooking, prepare the garnishes such as sliced cucumber, carrots, scallions, cilantro.



Once the pork is done and fork tender, gently remove from the pot and set aside on a plate and cover with plastic wrap to prevent the pork from drying out.



Discard the ginger, garlic and star anise pods from the braising liquid along with the excess pork fat on the top. Bring the sauce mixture to a boil and mix 1 tbsp of corn starch and 1 tbsp of water to create a slurry then pour to thicken the sauce. Once the sauce has thickened with no lumps, remove from heat and set aside.



Pre-made frozen baos are excellent and save a lot of cooking time. These just need to be steamed for about 5 mins and it's ready for serving. Homemade bao buns are wonderful and delicious so if you have the time to prepare them, by all means.



Place the frozen bao buns on a bamboo steamer and steam for 5 - 7 mins until tender and fluffy.



Slice the pork belly and sear on medium high heat until browned and crispy on both sides.



Assemble the baos by placing the pork, vegetables and sauce onto the buns. Add crushed peanuts, sesame seeds or sliced chilis for added flavor.



Directions:

  1. Prepare ingredients by slicing pork belly, peeling garlic, ginger. Measure the brown sugar, light soy sauce, oyster sauce and sake and combine. Lightly season the pork belly with salt and white pepper.

  2. In a skillet or braising pot, bring the heat up to medium high and sear the pork belly on both sides until lightly browned then set aside on a plate.

  3. Add the aromatics: garlic, ginger and star anise pods. Stir and cook for 30 seconds.

  4. Pour in the sake to deglaze the pot and scrape and use a wooden spatula to gently scrape the brown bits on the bottom.

  5. Add the pork belly back into the pot and pour the sauce mixture then allow it to come to a boil.

  6. Once the pork has come to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer, cover the pot with a lid and braise for 1 hour.

  7. While the pork is cooking, prepare the garnishes such as sliced cucumber, carrots, scallions, cilantro.

  8. Discard the ginger, garlic and star anise pods from the braising liquid along with the excess pork fat on the top.

  9. Bring the sauce mixture to a boil and mix 1 tbsp of corn starch and 1 tbsp of water to create a slurry then pour to thicken the sauce. Once the sauce has thickened with no lumps, remove from heat and set aside.

  10. Place the bao buns on a bamboo steamer and steam for 5 - 7 mins until tender and fluffy.

  11. Slice the pork belly and sear on medium high heat until browned and crispy on both sides.

  12. Assemble the baos by placing the pork, vegetables and sauce onto the buns. Add crushed peanuts, sesame seeds or sliced chilis for added flavor.