Gua Bao – Taiwanese Pork Belly Steamed Buns
Pork Belly Steamed Buns is hands down our favorite Asian street food. White and fluffy bao filled with tender, slowly cooked pork belly along with some crunchy veggies and sauces is a pure delight.
Classic Taiwanese Gua Bao includes a few simple ingredients: soft steamed bun, tender pork belly, pickled mustard greens, fresh cilantro, and powdered peanuts. As you may notice, we’re not good at following traditional rules, so we decided to make some changes and use fresh veggies instead of pickled mustard greens to add a little bit of freshness and to balance the fatty and delicious pork belly. We also didn’t add peanuts, but you can definitely go for it if you want to.
One of the most intimidating parts of cooking this dish is probably making steamed buns from scratch. Because it’s time-consuming and requires a certain level of cooking skills. If you feel like you want to do it, kudos to you, and check our Pork Cheeks and Sauerkraut Bao Buns recipe for detailed instructions. But if you want to use a shortcut, Asian supermarkets have pretty awesome frozen bao buns. Just cook them according to the manufacturer’s instructions, it will save you a lot of time!
However, there is no way you can use a shortcut cooking pork belly. Pork belly is no doubt a star of this dish and deserves a proper care and attention. With this in mind, we decided to use sous vide method. It’s was incredibly exciting for us because it’s our first experience cooking a pork belly in Sous Vide. The result exceeded all the expectations. We got perfectly cooked pork belly with fantastic texture and amazing flavor. The verdict is from now on the only way we’ll ever cook pork belly is sous vide! It’s not a rocket science, in fact it’s much easier and less messy then cooking in the oven. Just be aware that the cooking process will take approximately 10 hours.
- pork belly - 1 lb., skin on
- Chinese five-spice powder - 1/2 teaspoon
- soy sauce - 3 tablespoons
- fresh ginger - 1 inch piece, thinly sliced
- garlic - 1 clove, thinly sliced
- green onion - 2 pieces, white part only
- frozen bao buns - 1 package (8-10 buns)
- radish - 1/3 cup, thinly sliced
- cucumber - 1, thinly sliced
- green onion - 1/4 cup, (green part only) finely chopped
- cilantro - small bunch
- Preheat your sous vide water bath to 176 F (80 C).
- Place the pork belly, Chinese five-spice powder, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and green onion in a gallon-size freezer-safe ziplock bag.
- Slowly lower the bag below the water line to squeeze out air. Everything below the zippered closing must be submerged in water. Seal the opening or drape it over the edge of the container and clip to the side.
- When the water reaches 176 F gently lower the bag with pork belly into the water bath. Make sure that the meat is completely submerged in water.
- Cook pork belly for 10 hours until very soft.
- Remove the bag from the water and let the pork belly rest for 10-15 minutes.
- Strain the juice from the bag trough the mesh sieve into a small sauce.
- Bring to a boil and simmer stirring often until the liquid is reduced by half and became thick and syrupy.
- Brush the pork belly with the hot glaze and then cut against the grain into 1/4 inch slices.
- Steam the frozen bao buns according to the manufacturer's instruction.
- To serve, carefully open each bun, put 1-2 pieces of pork belly and a few slices of radish and cucumber. Top with chopped green onion.
- Serve the pork belly buns immediately with some Sriracha and hoisin sauce on a side.