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Sweet & Sticky Pork Belly Bao

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Bao buns are surprisingly easy to make and work with a number of fillings. We just love this sticky pork belly - this is party food!

  • Serves: 6 |
    6 servings
  • Rating:

  • Difficulty:

  • Prep Time : 2:0 hours |
  • Cook Time : 2:0 hours
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Bao

500 g bread flour
10 g yeast
2 tsp (10 ml) baking powder
10 g salt
¼ C sugar
1 Tbsp (15 ml) oil
325 g milk

14 pieces of baking paper, cut into 10×10 cm squares
2 Tbsp (30 ml) oil for brushing the bao buns
a bamboo steamer

Pork Belly

oil for frying
1.5 kg skinless and boneless pork belly
salt and pepper

Sticky Sauce

¼ C (60 ml) hoisin sauce
¼ C (60 ml) honey
2 Tbsp (30 ml) soy sauce
2 star anise
1 ½ C (375 ml) water
a big knob of ginger, peeled and sliced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and squashed
1 cinnamon stick
juice of 1 lemon
2 tsp (10 ml) cornflour
2 Tbsp (30 ml) water

Carrots & Pickled Onions

2 large carrots, peeled into ribbons
juice of 1 lemon
½ C (125 ml) red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp (30 ml) white sugar
2 tsp (10 ml) salt
1 red onion, sliced

To Assemble

30 g fresh coriander, washed
1 jar (220 ml) pickled ginger
2 spring onions, sliced (green part only)
1 Tbsp (15 ml) toasted white sesame seeds

Bao Dough Part 1

In a large mixing bowl, add the flour, yeast, baking powder, salt and sugar and whisk to combine. Heat the milk in the microwave until lukewarm (35 ºC if you have a digital thermometer). Pour the milk and oil into the flour and mix with a wooden spoon to combine. Tip the dough out onto a work surface and knead for 8 minutes until smooth and supple. Lightly oil the mixing bowl; place the dough ball inside and cover. Let the dough prove for 1 ½ -2 hours until it doubles in size.

Pork Belly

While the dough is proving, slice the pork belly into thick rashers. Set a large cast iron pan over high heat. Drizzle the rashers with oil and season with salt and pepper. Fry the rashers in batches for a few minutes a side until golden and caramelised.

Sticky Sauce

To a large dutch oven, add the hoisin, honey, soy, star anise, water, ginger, garlic, cinnamon and lemon juice. Whisk to combine then set over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil then arrange the rashers in the pot. Turn the heat down to low and cover with a lid. Simmer slowly for 1 hour until the pork is tender. When the pork is tender, remove it from the pot and set aside. Use a slotted spoon to remove the ginger, garlic and cinnamon stick. Taste the sauce and adjust seasoning if necessary. Adjust for sweetness with honey and for acidity with a squeeze of lemon. Turn the heat up to high; mix the cornflour and water to form a slurry and add this to the sauce. Simmer for a minute until thickened. If your sauce is too thick, you can thin with a splash of water. Remove the pot from the heat and place the pork back in and cover.

Carrots & Pickled Onions

Add the carrot ribbons and lemon juice to a small bowl and toss to combine. Add the red wine vinegar, sugar and salt to a medium sized bowl and whisk to combine. Add the red onion sliced and set aside to pickle.

Bao Dough Part 2

Tip the dough out onto a work surface. Divide the dough into 60 g portions and form into balls. Cover with a damp cloth to keep from drying out. Lightly flour a work surface and roll the dough balls into circular shapes that are the same size as your baking paper. Lightly brush the top of the dough circle with oil and then fold it over like a taco – this step is important as it allows for you to easily open the steamed buns to fill once cooked. Place each onto a square of baking paper. Cover with a damp cloth and repeat until you have rolled all of the buns.

Fill a pot that will fit a bamboo steamer over it a quarter full with water and bring to a simmer. Place the buns, along with the baking paper, into a bamboo steamer and steam for 12 minutes to cook. We used a double layer steamer with 3 buns on each layer. Repeat until you have steamed all the bao buns.

To Assemble

Fill each bao with a piece of pork belly. Add carrot strips, pickled onions, pickled ginger and fresh coriander. Garnish with spring onions, sesame seeds and an extra drizzle of sauce.