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Gua Bao (Braised Pork Belly Buns!)




Sure, I get excited about recipes and food. But this. These bao buns, that caramelized pork belly…they made me dance. I was dancing in my kitchen eating these. They are simply put, one of the best things I’ve made in a very long time and I’m not exaggerating.

We’ll start with the buns, since they take about two hours to proof. No to jump around, but while the dough is proofing we’ll start the pork belly. When the pork belly is finished we can steam the buns.

Here is how the bao buns are made:

Combine milk, sugar, active yeast, and oil. Whisk everything together and let sit for about 8-10 minutes until it gets foamy and the yeast is active.

In a standing mixer bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. You can also make these by hand as well.

Once the yeast is proofed, pour the yeast mixture into the bowl with flour. Turn the mixer onto slow to combine all ingredients. Knead for about 3 minutes.

A soft ball should form and it shouldn’t be too sticky. Cover the bowl and allow to rest in a warm area for about 2 hours until the ball has tripled in size.

Place a pan on the stove and get water boiling.


Once tripled, punch the dough down and roll the dough out.

Extra flour should not be necessary. Roll the dough to about ¼ inch.

Using a biscuit cutter or a cup, cut out circles about 3 ½ in wide.

Spray one side with oil or brush oil on and fold circles in half. Gently roll the dough one more time and place them in a steamer. Let rest for another 30 minutes.

Carefully place steamer in the boiling water. Steam buns for about 8 minutes.

To make the pork belly:

Cut the pork belly into 1 inch cubes.

Heat a large sauce pan over high heat. Add the pork belly and get it brown and crispy, about 20 minutes.


Chop garlic and onion

While the pork is cooking, in a medium bowl add chicken stock, hoisin sauce, oyster sauce, honey, dark soy sauce, and Shaoxing and mix. Set aside.

Add chopped onion and garlic to the pork belly cook for about 3 minutes stirring continuously.

Pour the sauce into the pork belly and stir for about 2 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pot to loosen anything. Add water and mix, bringing the pot to a hard boil over high heat. Boil for 20 minutes without a lid until the pork belly is tender and the sauce has thickened being sure to stir occasionally.

While the pork belly is cooking, slice your cucumbers, chop your cilantro, slice your chilis, crush your peanuts, and steam your bao buns!

Once the buns are steamed, fill them with your braised pork belly, cucumbers, cilantro, chilis, and crushed peanuts.

Ingredients:

For the pork belly:

· 4 lbs pork belly, cut into cubes

· 12 garlic cloves, chopped,

· 1 large onion, chopped

· 1 cup chicken stock

· ¼ cup hoisin sauce

· ¼ cup dark soy sauce

· ¼ cup oyster sauce

· ¼ cup honey

· ¼ cup Shaoxine wine or dry sherry

· 2 cups water

Garnish:

· Cucumber, sliced

· Cilantro, chopped

· Peanuts, chopped

· Red chili, sliced

For the bao buns:

· ½ cup warm milk

· 1/3 cup warm water

· 4 tablespoons sugar

· 1 tablespoon active dry yeast

· 2 tablespoons oil, I used peanut oil

· 2 ½ cup all-purpose flour

· ¼ teaspoon salt

· ½ teaspoon baking powder

Instructions:

1. Start by proofing the yeast for the buns. Combine milk, sugar, active yeast, and oil. Whisk everything together and let sit for about 8-10 minutes until it gets foamy and the yeast is active.

2. In a standing mixer bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. You can also make these by hand as well.

3. Once the yeast is proofed, pour the yeast mixture into the bowl with flour. Turn the mixer onto slow to combine all ingredients. Knead for about 3 minutes.

A soft ball should form and it shouldn’t be too sticky. Cover the bowl and allow to rest in a warm area for about 2 hours until the ball has tripled in size.

Meanwhile, get the pork belly cooking. Heat a large sauce pan over high heat. Add the pork belly and get it brown and crispy, about 20 minutes.

4. While the pork is cooking, in a medium bowl add chicken stock, hoisin sauce, oyster sauce, honey, dark soy sauce, and Shaoxing and mix. Set aside.

5. Add chopped onion and garlic to the pork belly cook for about 3 minutes stirring continuously.

6. Pour the sauce into the pork belly and stir for about 2 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pot to loosen anything. Add water and mix, bringing the pot to a hard boil over high heat. Boil for 20 minutes without a lid until the pork belly is tender and the sauce has thickened being sure to stir occasionally.

7. While the pork belly is cooking, slice your cucumbers, chop your cilantro, slice your chilis, crush your peanuts, and steam your get your bao buns ready to steam.

8. Once the bun dough has tripled (after about 1 ½ - 2 hours, punch the dough down and roll the dough out. Extra flour should not be necessary. Roll the dough to about ¼ inch. Using a biscuit cutter or a cup, cut out circles about 3 ½ in wide.

9. Spray one side with oil or brush oil on and fold circles in half. Gently roll the dough one more time and place them in a steamer. Let rest for another 30 minutes. Carefully place steamer in the boiling water. Steam buns for about 8 minutes.

10. Once the buns are steamed, fill them with your braised pork belly, cucumbers, cilantro, chilis, and crushed peanuts. Serve immediately!

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