A couple of 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 then, 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!
Braised pork belly bao
Yields 12 bao
4 hrTotal Time
3 lbs raw, uncured pork belly, skin on
1 cup soy sauce
1 cup palm sugar
1/2 cup rice vinegar
3 tbsp dark soy sauce
3 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp lime
1 English cucumber, thinly sliced
1 large shallot, peeled and thinly sliced
1/4 cup mirin
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
1 cup salted peanuts, chopped
2 heaping tbsp brown sugar
10-12 bao buns
fresh cilantro for garnish
Marinate the pork belly. Cut slits into the skin of the pork belly about 1/4 inch deep and 1/2 inch apart. Combine soy sauce - lime juice in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook until the sugar has melted, stirring frequently. Let cool. Place the pork belly skin side down in a container and pour the marinade. Let sit overnight, turning the pork belly over occasionally.
Preheat oven to 275 degrees F.
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.
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.
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.
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.
All the other components for this 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.You can also use a food processor but you want a few peanut chunks in there so don’ts process the mixture too fine.When heating up the bao, you can use either a steamer or microwave. If you’re using the microwave, cover the baos with a damp paper towel, allowing them to steam.
Make sure to prepare a lot of these braised pork belly baos because they will go quick. You don’t even need a sauce because the pork is so darn flavorful. 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…
Looking for someone to come to your house and prepare these dishes for you? It is possible! If you are in Los Angeles and looking for a private chef, please feel free to contact me. For more information, visit Private Kitchen Los Angeles.