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Pork belly baos in a bamboo steamer
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5 from 5 votes

Gua Bao (Taiwanese Pork Belly Buns 割包)

Gua Bao Buns are an irresistible Taiwanese treat! Soft baos hug succulent pork belly slices beautifully balanced by crunchy pickled greens.
Prep Time1 hr
Cook Time3 hrs
Dough Making Time1 hr 45 mins
Total Time5 hrs 45 mins
Course: Appetizer, Dinner, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine: Asian, Chinese, Taiwanese
Servings: 6
Calories: 2105kcal
Author: Jeannette

Ingredients

For The Bao

  • 300 g / 1 1/4 US cup all-purpose flour
  • 150 mL / 3/5 US cup milk
  • 10 g / 1/8 US cup sugar
  • 5 g / 0.01 lb dry instant yeast
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • cooking oil (for brushing over the surface of the dough ball)
  • sesame oil (for brushing over the rolled dough)

For The Filling

    Pork Belly

    • 1 kg / 2.2 lb pork belly
    • 1 L / 4.22 US cup water
    • 10 slices ginger
    • 3 star anise
    • 3 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
    • 3 red shallots (finely chopped)
    • 2 sprigs spring onion (tied into a knot)
    • 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
    • 5 tbsp rock sugar (or to taste)
    • 3 tbsp salt (or to taste)
    • 1/2 cup Shaoxing rice wine (or dry sherry)

    Pickled mustard greens

    • 400 g / 0.88 lb pickled mustard greens (we get it from the local Asian grocery store)
    • 3 tbsp cooking oil
    • 1 tsp sugar (or to taste)
    • chilli (optional)

    Garnish

    • crushed peanuts
    • coriander

    Instructions

    The Bao

    • To start, pour the flour onto a clean surface or in a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the center.
    • Add the instant dry yeast, sugar and baking powder in the well then mix until incorporated.
    • Heat up the milk in the microwave for 20 seconds or until the milk is slightly warm. Stir the oil into the milk and pour in the mixture over the dry ingredients.
    • Mix well until a dough is formed.
      Pro Tip: If you find the dough too wet, add 1/2 tbsp flour at a time and knead it in until it reaches a consistency that's not too sticky. 
    • When a smooth ball has formed, place it in a large clean bowl with a kitchen towel on top and let it rest for 90 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.
    • Cut the baking paper up into squares. This will be used as a base for the baos to avoid them sticking to the steamer.
      Pro Tip: Measure the size by placing the baking paper above the cookie cutter or cup you will be using to cut the dough. Leave space roughly 1 cm (0.4") from either side, then snip.
    • Roll the dough out until you have a 1 cm (1/2″) thickness, then brush sesame oil over the top. This will help the baos open up the after being steamed.
    • Use a cookie cutter or cup to cut circles out of the dough. 
    • Fold each circle in half, place it onto the cut baking paper and press down gently until it has flattened. You can use a rolling pin to roll over it to further flatten and smooth out the surface.
    • Let the baos rest for another 30 minutes under a kitchen towel. They will rise during this time.
    • Put some baos in the bamboo steamer and steam on high heat for 15 minutes.
      Pro Tip: Place a kitchen towel over the steamer to stop water droplets from dripping on the baos.

    The Filling

    • Slice the pork into slices, roughly 1.5 cm (0.6") thick and 7cm (2.8") wide.
    • Boil them with the ginger and 3 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine for 20 minutes or until the meat color has changed to white.
    • Drain everything in a colander.
    • Heat up a wok with 4 tbsp oil and pan fry the pork belly for 3 minutes on both sides each or until golden brown. Transfer them onto a plate, leaving the oil behind.
    • Using the same oil, fry the ginger, shallots, garlic and star anise on medium heat for 2 minutes or until fragrant.
    • Add the cooked meat in and stir for 3 minutes.
    • Pour in the water, dark soy sauce, rock sugar, spring onion knots, salt and remaining Shaoxing wine to simmer for 90 minutes. Transfer just the meat onto a dish until ready to serve.

    For The Pickles

    • Meanwhile, heat up 3 tbsp oil in a wok on high heat and cook the pickled mustard greens with the sugar and chili.

    How To Assemble

    • Carefully open the bao’s mouth and lay a bed of pickled mustard greens on the bottom lip.
    • Place a slice of pork belly in the middle and garnish with crushed peanuts and coriander.
    • Garnish the Gua Bao Buns with crushed peanuts and coriander, then serve immediately as is!

    Notes

    • Time it so that the steamed buns and pork belly are done cooking at the same time. Both parts of the Gua Bao Buns will be served fresh and deliciously hot.
    • Don't over stuff. You can easily tear the outside by putting too much filling.
    • Use a pot large (or small) enough for the meat to be submerged. When cooking the pork belly, try to keep it under the liquid so it stays juicy.
    • Substitute all-purpose flour with cake or bread flour. All-purpose flour is the same as plain flour, so if you see that in the shops, rest assured that you're getting the same thing!
    • We use pork belly for our Gua Bao Buns, but you can use whichever cut you like. Just keep in mind that with leaner versions, it tends to be tougher.
    • We get our pickled mustard greens from the Asian supermarket. They come sealed with some liquid in the bag to keep them moist. Different brands will have slightly different flavors, so make sure to adjust the seasoning to taste.

    Nutrition

    Calories: 2105kcal | Carbohydrates: 61g | Protein: 40g | Fat: 185g | Saturated Fat: 65g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 242mg | Sodium: 4368mg | Potassium: 1379mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 242IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 128mg | Iron: 5mg