Braised pork steamed buns

Braised pork steamed buns

Gua bao

By
From
Man Food
Serves
4-6
Photographer
Billy Law

Originating from Fuzhou, China, gua bao was adopted into Taiwanese street food culture and now has taken the world by storm. Gua bao, meaning ‘sliced wrapper’, is a clamshell-like steamed bun, filled with thick slabs of pork belly, pickled vegetables, herbs and sauces. It’s the hamburger of the East. I usually serve these buns DIY-style so everyone can create their own gua baos with whatever fillings they feel like.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
1 kg piece pork belly
80ml dark soy sauce
80ml light soy sauce, plus 2 extra tablespoons
75g sugar, plus 2 extra tablespoons
5 garlic cloves
2 cm piece fresh ginger
5 star anise
5g dried red chillies, seeded
15 white peppercorns
1 tablespoon cornflour
1/2 long cucumber, thinly sliced
handful coriander
chilli sauce, to taste
30g roasted peanuts, finely chopped

Pickled carrot

Quantity Ingredient
125ml rice wine vinegar
110g sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2 large carrots, julienned into 5 cm matchsticks

Gua bao dough

Quantity Ingredient
1 teaspoon instant dry yeast
150g high-gluten wheat flour, (see note), plus extra for dusting
150g low-gluten wheat flour, (see note)
80g caster sugar
10g dry milk powder
pinch salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

Method

  1. Prepare the pickled carrot a day or a week ahead. Mix 250 ml lukewarm water, with the vinegar, sugar and salt, stir well until all the sugar has dissolved. Put the carrot into an airtight jar. Pour the sugar solution into the jar until the carrot is fully submerged. Close the lid and keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.
  2. Put the whole piece of pork belly, skin side up, in a large saucepan and completely cover the pork with water. Bring to the boil over a high heat, skimming out all the impurities floating to the surface.
  3. Turn the heat down to a simmer, add the soy sauces, sugar, garlic, ginger, star anise, chillies and peppercorns, then stir until the sugar has dissolved. Cover with a lid and let it braise for 1 1⁄2 hours or until the pork is meltingly tender, but not falling apart. Remove the pork from the stock and transfer to a plate, set aside to let it cool down.
  4. Meanwhile, to make a sweet sauce, strain 500 ml of the braising stock into a saucepan, add the extra 2 tablespoons each of light soy sauce and sugar and bring to the boil over a medium heat. Simmer for about 15 minutes to reduce the liquid by half. Combine the cornflour with 60 ml water in a bowl and stir into the reduced liquid. Cook, stirring until the sauce thickens, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and pour into a jug to cool.
  5. Once the pork is cool enough to handle, cut it into thin slices about 5 mm thick. Put the meat back in the remaining stock and cover with a lid to keep warm until ready to serve.
  6. To make the gua bao dough, stir 200 ml room temperature water and yeast together and let it activate for 10 minutes, or until frothy. Sift the remaining dry ingredients into a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Pour the yeast water into the bowl, then using one hand, slowly incorporate the flour into the liquid until you have a sticky, wet dough. Tip the dough onto a floured work surface, keep kneading the dough for 5 minutes until it feels smooth and elastic. Grease a clean bowl with oil and put the dough inside, cover with plastic wrap or a damp cloth and let it rest in a warm place for 1 hour, or until the dough has doubled in size.
  7. Punch the air out of the dough, tip it back onto the floured work surface and pat it out into a 15 x 40 cm rectangle, then roll it into a tight log. Cut the log into 12 equal-sized pieces. Knead the dough lightly and roll the pieces up into balls. Place them on a tray lined with baking paper, cover with a damp cloth and let them rest for 30 minutes. The dough will double in size again.
  8. Meanwhile, cut out twelve 8 x 8 cm squares of baking paper. Take one piece of dough and roll it into an 8 x 15 cm oval shape, dip a chopstick in oil and place it in the centre of the oval, fold the dough in half then pull the chopstick out. Place the bun on a square of baking paper and put it back on the baking tray, repeat with the rest of the dough. Once completed, cover with a damp cloth again and let it proof for another 30 minutes.
  9. Set up a large steamer over simmering water in a wok. Working in batches, steam the buns for 10 minutes, or until they are light and fluffy.
  10. To assemble, remove the paper and gently prise open the bun through the seam. Layer the bun with cucumber slices, pickled carrot, pork belly and coriander. Slather with the sweet sauce and chilli sauce, and sprinkle with the peanuts.

Note

  • High and low gluten wheat flours are available at any Asian grocers. You can substitute high-gluten wheat flour with ‘00' strong flour, and plain (all-purpose) flour for low-gluten wheat flour. Alternatively, you can just use 300 g ‘baker's flour’, but the colour and texture of the buns may vary.
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