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Pork Belly Tacos (gua bao)

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52 weeks of cooking – Taiwanese

Ever since moving to Singapore and tasting all the wonders of Asian street foods I’ve had a fondness for steamed bao. Lots of people know the classic steamed bao stuffed with BBQ pork but there are other flavors and other options for steamed bread. Gua bao or as I like to call them bao tacos, are made with the same bao dough, just transformed into a different shape and there for different eating experience. The dough is rolled into circles, folded in half and steamed, the inside is spread with a little oil so once they are cooked they can be opened with our tearing them apart. They are stuffed with crispy, sticky, braised pork belly and often accompanied by fresh cucumber slices or pickled vegetables.


Pork Belly Tacos (gua bao)


Pork belly braise

  • 2 lb pork belly, cut into 1-2” cubes
  • 4 c water
  • 2 inches of ginger, sliced
  • 5 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 2 tbsp. rice wine
  • 1 tbsp. soy sauce

Bao buns

  • 3 c flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. yeast
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tbsp. oil
  • 1 c water
  • oil for shaping bao
  • parchment paper, cut into squares

Pork belly glaze

  • 1/4 c soy sauce
  • 1/4 c brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp. sriracha

Optional garnish

  • cilantro
  • cucumber slices


Pork belly braise

  1. In a large pot add all of the ingredients to braise the pork belly, simmer over low heat for an hour and a half while you prepare the bao buns.

Bao buns

  1. Add all of the bao ingredients to the bowl of a stand mixer, attach a dough hook and knead for about 5 minutes, the dough should pull cleanly away from the sides of the bowl. Let rest 1 hour.
  2. Put water on to boil for steaming the bao.
  3. On a floured surface cut the dough in half, divide each half into 12 pieces and roll into balls. Flatten each ball and roll into a circle about the size of your palm. Lightly rub oil over the surface of the dough, fold in half and place on a parchment square. Cover with a towel to prevent them from drying out.
  4. Lay about 4-5 bao into a steamer basket, leave a little space between each one. Turn down the water to a simmer and cook for 12 minutes or until the center is fluffy and bounces back from being poked.

Pork belly glaze

  1. Drain the pork belly and discard the ginger and garlic. You can save the stock and use it to make an Asian inspired soup.
  2. In a wok or large pan preheated on high heat sear the pork belly until all of the sides are golden brown. Do it all at once and stir often, they will release their own fat to be fried in.
  3. Drain the oil from the pork belly and leave the pork in the pan.
  4. Turn down the heat to medium and add the glaze ingredients on top of the pork, cook, stirring often, until most of the sauce has reduced.

To serve

  1. This makes for a fun family style eating experience, peel open a steam bun, stuff with a slice or two of pork belly and garnish with cilantro or cucumber slices if desired.

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