Taiwanese Braised BBQ Pork Belly Steamed Buns (Gua bao) don’t have to be daunting to make!
I think when most people hear the term “homemade steamed buns” a big red flag goes up. I’m not going to lie…the idea of making them is kind of scary. How can something so delicious turn out so well at home? The thing about steamed buns is that the ingredient list may seem daunting, the directions may seem lengthy, but they really aren’t that difficult to make. Sure they take some time, but most of that time is downtime. There is a lot of proofing involved and the braise on the pork belly will take a couple of hours, but the hands on time is really only an hour.
Steamed buns, soup dumplings, and dim sum are some of my favorite foods on the planet. I crave these handheld bites, that of which I really can’t get here in southern Wyoming. If I’m not in Denver or another major city, I have to resort to making them myself; and I’m definitely not sad about this.
Beer The pork belly for this recipe is very similar to the braised pork belly taco recipe I posted a couple of weeks ago, so I’m going to keep the pairing the same. Dubbels aren’t usually something I pair with. They are so complex that it can sometime be hard to pair with food. One thing I know and love about dubbels is their caramel-like character. They also can be slightly sweet which pairs just perfect with this pork belly. Let’s be honest this pork belly is like biting into a piece of candy, and the pairing could not be more perfect.
Braised BBQ Pork Belly Steamed Buns (Gua bao)
- 1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup grapeseed oil
- 2 tbsp lime juice
- 1 tbsp mirin
- 1 tbsp ginger paste
- 5 cloves of garlic finely minced
- 1 1/2 lb pork belly cut in half to create two 6-inch pieces (if necessary)
- 1 tbsp canola oil
- 1 large onion chopped
- 1 cup beer
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1/2 cup hoisin
- 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
- 1/4 cup plum wine or other sweet wine
- 2 tbsp honey
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tbsp molasses
- 1/2 tsp Chinese five spice
Gua Bao Dough
- 1 cup lukewarm water
- 1 packet active dry yeast
- 2 1/2 cup to 3 1/2 cup all-purpose flour more as needed
- 2 tsp nonfat dry milk powder
- 4 tbsp superfine sugar
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- vegetable oil
Braised BBQ Pork Belly Steamed Buns
- braised pork belly see recipe
- prepared steam buns see recipe
- sliced or shaved cucumber
- shredded carrots
- cilantro leaves
- sesame seeds
- Asian BBQ sauce see recipe
- In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, brown sugar, grapeseed oil, lime juice, mirin, ginger paste, and garlic. Pour the marinade into a large ziploc bag and add the pork belly to it. Seel, releasing any air, and massage the marinade into the pork belly. Place it in the fridge and marinate for at least 4 hours or up to overnight.
- Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F.
- Once the pork belly has marinated, remove it from the fridge and remove the pork belly from the bag (make sure to save the marinade). Pat the pork belly dry with paper towels.
- To a large enameled cast iron braising pan, or a pan that is oven safe, add the canola oil and set it over medium-low heat. Add the pork belly and sear on all sides until brown and caramelized. This will take a bit of time, about 15 minutes. Remove the pork belly from the pan and set it aside, but leave the pan over heat. Pour most of the fat from the pan into a small bowl (you will use this later), reserving about a tablespoon in the pan.
- Add the onion to the pan and season with salt. Cook until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes and then stir in the beer, remaining marinade, and chicken broth. Add the pork belly back to the pan and bring the mixture to a boil. Cover the braising pan with a lid or foil and place it in the oven. Braise the pork belly for 2 hours and then remove the lid and braise uncovered for an additional 1 hour.
- Once your pork belly has finished braising, remove it from the oven and then from the pan and set it on a cutting board to rest for a couple of minutes. Then cut the pork belly into bite sized pieces.
- Toss the pork belly in BBQ sauce (recipe directly below) and set aside.
- While your pork belly is braising, prepare the rest of your components. In a medium saucepan, combine all of the ingredients for the BBQ sauce. Set it over medium-low heat and simmer for about 15-20 minutes or until smooth and slightly thickened. Keep the sauce warm on the stove while you prepare your dough.
- Next, prepare your steamed buns. Combine the water and yeast and let stand for 10 minutes or until foamy. To the bowl of your stand mixer with dough hook attached, add all of the dry ingredients. Pour the water on top and then knead for 5-10 minutes or until the dough is very smooth and slightly elastic. Form the dough into a ball and transfer to a greased bowl. Cover with a tea towel or plastic wrap and let it rise for about an hour until it has double in size.
- Punch down the dough and transfer it to a lightly floured surface. Form the dough into a rectangle and then roll into a log. Cut the log into 12 equal-sized pieces and roll each piece into a ball. Transfer the dough to a large baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper and cover with a tea towel. Let the balls double in size, which should take another hour or so.
- Line your steamer basket(s) with parchment paper. Taking each ball of dough, roll it out into a 3x4 inch oval. Dip a chopstick or skewer in vegetable oil and place it in the center of the oval. Fold it in half then pull the chopstick or skewer out. Place the bun back on the baking sheet and repeat for the rest of the dough. Cover again with a tea towel and let it proof for 30 minutes.
- Set up your steamer over simmering water (making sure that the water doesn't actually touch the steamer) and steam the buns for 10 minutes. This may need to be done in batches.
- Assemble your buns as desired. I like to layer mine with shaved cucumber, shredded carrots, cilantro and pork belly. A drizzle of sriracha and sprinkling of sesame seeds tops the whole thing off!