Gua Bao – Taiwanese Pork Bao Buns
Gua Bao – Taiwanese Pork Bao Buns
Gua Bao is most probably one of the most famous sandwiches eaten throughout Southeast Asia and Eastern Asia, especially in countries like Taiwan, China, Singapore and Malaysia.
Although it originated in Fujian, China, Gua Bao is associated with Taiwan most of the times. Gua Bao is basically an Asian "burger" which contains:
-a steamed bun which is fluffy and airy like a cloud
-pork belly (most of the times, but my version is leaner and less-fattier because I have used pork neck which I have glazed in a soy sauce based sauce - yum!)
-different types of sauces
These sandwiches are sooo versatile! You can fill them with whatever you want, even if you are vegan, you can substitute the pork neck with jackfruit or glazed tofu.
For the pork
For the Bao Buns
For the sauce
Cooking the pork
Start by marinating the pork. In a bowl, mix honey, Hoisin sauce, soy sauce, rice vinegar and sesame oil together. Transfer the mixture into a bigger bowl (if marinating, so that the pork will have enough space) or in the pot in which you will bake the pork (if you choose to bake it without marinating it first). Add the crushed garlic and spices, followed by the spring onion and a little bit of salt. Place the pork carefully inside the marinade and add water just enough to submerge it. For best results. marinate the pork overnight and then bake it at 200 degrees Celsius for about 2h. You can check it from 30 to 30 minutes and add more water if you think it's too dry or baste it a little with the marinade. Let it rest for at least 20 minutes before cutting it.
Making the buns
To make the buns, place the yeast and sugar into the warm water and mix well. Let it sit for 10 minutes or until soft and bubbly. Make sure the water is warm and not hot.
Separately, mix the flour with the baking powder and salt. After 10 minutes, make a well in the flour mixture and pour the yeast mixture in which you have also added 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil. Mix well with a spoon and then transfer to a floured surface. Knead by hand or by mixer for 10 minutes or until the dough is very elastic and smooth. Transfer the dough into a greased bowl and cover with plastic foil. Let it rise for at least 1h.
Shaping the buns
After 1 hour, if the dough has doubled in size, you may start shaping the buns. Take all the air out of the dough (very important! make sure you take all the air out at this point, otherwise the buns will deflate during steaming - been there done that) and then start rolling the dough on a floured surface into a rectangle. With a mug start cutting 10cm diameter circles (could be bigger or smaller, doesn't really matter). After cutting them, place them on baking sheet squares (see video), brush them with the remaining oil and fold each bun into 2. After folding, take your rolling pin and just press them gently over (roll the rolling pin over them once). Let them rest for 30 more minutes.
Steaming the buns
After 30 minutes, you can start steaming your buns. Bring some water to a boil then put your steamer on it and carefully place the buns in it. Do not overcrowd the steamer as the buns will expand while cooking. Steam the buns for 8-10 minutes and then place on a plate and allow to rest.
Glazing the pork
In order to maximize all the flavors, take the sauce in which the pork has braised and simmer it in a pan until reduced and slightly think and sticky. At this point, add pieces of pork and cook it until the pork is completely glazed and sticky.
Making the sauce
For the sauce, add all the ingredients for the sauce and a little bit of water. Mix everything well and set aside.
In order to assemble the Gua Bao, take the bun, slightly open it and then add the glazed pork. Garnish with chopped peanuts, coriander and finish with the sauce and extra chilli. It is extremely delicious. You might substitute the pork with chicken, jackfruit or tofu, but in this case the cooking time will reduce considerably.