pork belly bao (gua bao)

I am so excited about these little pork belly bao buns! I’ve wanted to post the recipe for a bit, but I was waiting for the right moment. And the impending NYE festivities seem like as good a time as any. I have always felt that NYE parties are really about little bites and cute appetizers and these FIT THE BILL. Pork belly bao are taiwanese street food that we’ve seen a large influx of in the US over the last couple of years. I love them because they are so fun and customizable! You can really play around with different filling ingredients based on whatever suits your tastes. I kept these real simple so that you can spend more time mingling on NYE than slaving in the kitchen. And let me tell you, your guests will be IMPRESSED.

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Some of these ingredients may be difficult to find, but a trip to your local asian market or grocery store will usually yield great results. If you want to make your own buns, I’ve got a recipe here. I opted for store bought, because it just made my life easier. You can usually find the buns in the freezer section of most asian grocery stores and I just steamed them for about 10 minutes from frozen before using. Happy almost New Year!

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Yield: 12-14 bao

pork belly bao

prep time: 2 hour and 15 minscook time: 15 minstotal time: 2 hours and 30 mins

ingredients:

Pork Belly
  • 2 lb. pork belly slab, skinless
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons hoisin
  • 1/3 cup mirin
  • 12 oz. lager style beer, such as kirin or sapporo
  • 2 tablespoons grated ginger
Marinated Cucumbers
  • 3 persian cucumbers, sliced thin
  • 1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
Pork Belly Bao
  • 12 slices cooked pork belly (see above)
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sriracha
  • 2 teaspoons hoisin
  • sesame seeds, for sprinkling 
  • 12 bao buns, steamed according to package instructions
  • 3 stalks green onion, sliced
  • kewpie, or other mayonnaise
  • cilantro leaves, for garnish 

instructions:

  1. To make the pork belly: Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F.  Heat a smaller (just large enough for the pork belly to sit in) dutch oven over medium heat. Add pork belly fat side down and sear for 5 minutes or so, until browned. Flip the pork belly and add the beer, soy sauce, mirin, hoisin and ginger and bring to a simmer. Turn off the heat, cover and place in the oven. Braise for 2 hours, or until tender. Remove from the oven, cool to room temperature. Transfer to the pork belly to a plate, cover and refrigerate until firm. 
  2. To make the cucumbers: mix rice wine vinegar with sugar, salt, sesame oil and seeds until the sugar and salt have dissolved. Add cucumbers and let marinate for 30 minutes to 1 hour. 
  3. Preheat an oven to 450. Once the pork belly is firm, cut into 1/4" slices and place on a silpat or foil lined baking sheet. Mix together soy sauce, hoisin, and sriracha and brush over the pork belly slices. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Place in the oven for 10-12 minutes, until pork belly is golden brown. Spread a little kewpie into each steamed bun, add a slice of pork belly and top with marinated cucumbers, greens onions and cilantro. 
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