Note: I originally published this recipe on my old blog about 5 years ago, and I was meaning to transcribe it over to this blog, but never got around to it. (Oops).
Since that time, I've updated the recipe because I can now use an Instant Pot to speed up the process of braising the pork belly.
WHAT IS GUA BAO?
Succulent, melt-in-your-mouth and decadent, these savoury pork belly buns ("gua bao") are the Taiwanese answer to American hamburgers. Except, they're like 100 times better.
Traditionally, "gua bao" is made with some type of stewed meat (pork belly), topped with crushed peanuts and preserved mustard greens.
MY VERSION OF GUA BAO
I've given this recipe a little more of a modern take on it with more fresh herbs and veggies. And, it's all done in the ever-handy Instant Pot. (For more meaty Instant Pot recipes: eg. Instant Pot Beef Pho, Green Onion Beef Pancake Rolls).
It does take a bit of time to make. But it will be a labour of love.
We'll simmer the braised pork belly in the Instant Pot with some fragrant spices and aromatics.
Then we'll make the dough for the buns.
And then, assemble with the fresh vegetable toppings:
- shredded carrots
This luscious and moist pork belly is braised in various spices to give it depth of flavour. It's nestled in a pillowy soft and warm steamed bun. I loev how the vegetable toppings give it some crunch and vibrancy.
I promise you won't be able to eat just one bun. 😉
MAKING IT AHEAD
This recipe does take some time to execute, but cooking it in the Instant Pot shaves off quite a bit of time.
The steamed buns can be made earlier (and frozen) and when you're ready to eat, you can steam them up 10 minutes before serving.
Let me know if you try out my recipe for these delicious pork belly buns. Tag me on Instagram @siftandsimmer or leave me a comment below! Have you had Momofuku's pork belly buns before? I'd love to hear!
And for a look back on my original photo 5 years ago...
Taiwanese Gua Bao 割包
For accuracy and precision in baking recipes, use weight (metric) measurements when available.
Pork Belly Braise:
- 2 lbs pork belly
- 4 cloves garlic smashed
- 1 inch ginger smashed
- 2 green onions cut into 3" pieces
- 2 Thai chilies optional
- 3 star anise whole
- 1 tablespoon fennel seed whole
- 1 teaspoon coriander seed whole
- 1 teaspoon white peppercorns whole
- ½ teaspoon 5-spice powder
- 4 tablespoon dark soy sauce
- 2 tablespoon light soy sauce
- 1 ½ tablespoon rock sugar
- 4 C beef broth or water
- ½ cucumber sliced
- ½ carrot julienned
- a few sprigs cilantro chopped
- 1 Thai chili chopped (optional)
- 1 green onion chopped (optional)
- hoisin suace
- 2 ¼ C all-purpose flour
- ¾ C warm milk
- ½ tablespoon active dry yeast
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- 2 tablespoon avocado oil
- 1 tablespoon oil for brushing tops of the buns
Pork Belly Braise:
- Rinse pork belly and pat dry. Turn on the Instant Pot to Saute and add 1 teaspoon oil. Place pork belly in to brown on all sides for about 3-4 minutes.
- Add the chilies, garlic, spices and ginger and saute until fragrant. Add soy sauce, sugar, and 4 C of beef broth or water to cover. Cover with the lid and set the Instant Pot to Meat setting and cook for 40 minutes at high pressure.
- Once pork belly is cooked, remove from braising liquid and set aside. Save the braising liquid for noodle soup. Strain the braising liquid and remove the fat from the surface.
- Tip: an easy way to do this is to pour it into a bowl and set it in the freezer to chill. Once cold, the fat surfaces to the top and you can scrape it off quickly.
- Cut the pork belly into 1" slices and place into steamed buns (baos).
- Cut out 10 square pieces parchment paper approximately 4" in diameter. Set aside.
- In a large stand mixer bowl fitted with a dough hook, combine yeast, sugar, and warm milk. Leave to proof.
- When the yeast has been activated (bubbly), add in flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and oil.
- Turn on the mixer and knead dough for 8-10 minutes on low speed, until the dough is nice and elastic. Add a little flour or water at a time depending if it's too sticky or too dry.
- Turn out dough onto an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place to double in size (about 90 minutes).
- Once dough has risen, gently deflate and move it over to a board dusted with some flour.
- Taking the dough, roll into a log and cut into 10 pieces, each piece roughly 50g.
- Shape each piece into a ball and flatten out into an oval shape using a rolling pin.
- Brush the top of the dough with a little oil and fold in half.
- Lay the dough onto the prepared parchment paper. Repeat with the remaining dough.
- Lightly cover and rest for about 30 minutes, until slightly puffy.
- Heat water in a large bamboo steamer over high heat. When buns are ready to be steamed, arrange the buns into the steamer and steam for 10-12 minutes, until puffy.
- Turn off the heat and wait for 5 minutes before carefully removing the buns from the steamer.
- Gently peel the warm buns open and assemble with the pork belly, toppings, hoisin sauce, and serve immediately.
The nutritional information provided should be considered as approximate and is not guaranteed. Please use your best judgment to ensure food is safely prepared and/or a good fit for your diet.
Bun dough recipe adapted from David Chang via Food52.