Braised pork belly bao

A couple days ago I passed by this restaurant that served at least 15 different kinds of bao. Unfortunately, I was already full from dinner so I didn’t have any but ever since than, I’ve been thinking about baos. After making the braised pork for my crispy pork belly and watermelon salad, I thought that the pork was perfect for bao. Combine that flavorful pork belly with a couple more elements and I have a wonderful pork belly bao! Satisfaction met!
 pork belly bao
pork belly bao
pork belly bao
pork belly bao
Braised pork belly bao
Yields 12
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Cook Time
5 hr 30 min
Cook Time
5 hr 30 min
Pork Belly
  1. 3 lbs raw, uncured pork belly, skin on
  2. 2 cups kecap manis
  3. 6 tbsp Chinese black vinegar or rice vinegar
  4. 3 tbsp dark soy sauce
  5. 3 tbsp fish sauce
  6. juice of 1 lime
Remaining components
  1. 1 English cucumber, thinly sliced
  2. 1 large shallot, peeled and thinly sliced
  3. 1/4 cup mirin
  4. 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  5. 1 tbsp sugar
  6. 1 cup salted peanuts, chopped
  7. 2 heaping tbsp brown sugar
  8. 10-12 bao buns
  9. fresh cilantro for garnish
  1. Combine marinade for the pork from kecap manis - juice of 1 lime.
  2. Make incisions into the skin of the pork belly, 1/4 inch deep and 1/2 inch apart, making X's. Place skin side up in a casserole dish and pour marinade on top. Turn to coat the pork. Marinade overnight, turning the pork several times.
  3. Preheat oven to 275 degrees F.
  4. Transfer pork to an oven safe dish with 2 cups marinade and 2 cups water. Cover with foil. Bring to a boil over the stove-top. Continue cooking the pork in the oven for 4-5 hours or until the pork is tender and falls apart easily. Let cool. When the pork is cool enough to handle, slice into 1/4 inch thick slices. Set aside.
  5. While the pork is braising, pickle the cucumbers and shallot. Combine the mirin, rice vinegar and sugar together, mixing until the sugar is dissolved. Pour over the cucumber and shallot in a medium size jar. Let chill for at least 30 minutes or for several days.
  6. Prepare the peanuts by crushing together the peanuts with the brown sugar with a mortar and pestle or with a knife. Crush until the peanuts are well combined with the sugar.
  7. Heat the bao buns either in a steamer for 10 minutes or in the microwave for 2 minutes. Assemble the buns with slices of the pork belly, pickled cucumbers and shallots, cilantro, and peanut crumble. Serve immediately.
Adapted from Chef Zak Pelaccio (pork recipe)
Cherry on my Sundae

**Helpful tips and common mistakes

For helpful tips on how to prepare the pork, check out my Crispy Pork Belly and Watermelon Salad post. 
All the other components for these bao are fairly simple to make. You can make the pickled cucumbers and shallots several days ahead or just 30 minutes before serving.
I found a mortar and pestle buried in the back of my kitchen (sinful I know!) and had to use it. I used it today to prepare the peanut crumble but feel free to simply crumble the peanuts with your knife and mix it with the sugar. 
peanut crumble
You can also use a food processor but you want a bit of peanut chunks in there so don’t process the mixture too fine. 
peanut crumble
When heating up the bao, you can either use a steamer or the microwave. If you’re heating them in the microwave, cover with a damp paper towel, allowing the bao to moisten up while heating. 
Make sure to prepare a lot of these because they will go quick. No sauce is necessary because the pork is so darn flavorful (and tender!). The peanuts add a nutty crunch while the crisp tangy cucumbers complement the saltier pork. I’m not going to lie, I already had three and could go for some more…
pork belly bao
 pork belly bao

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  1. It looks delicious! I had to google kecap manis so thank you for teaching me a new (to me) ingredient.

    • cma0425

      It was new to me too! Love sharing new discoveries

  2. Hi Christine, these pork bao look delicious! Your photos definitely make me want to take a big bite out of one of those buns!

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