Taiwanese Pork Belly Buns (Gua Bao)

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Yet more ways to eat pork belly.

Gua Bao are Chinese buns made from steamed sweet dough. They can be filled with all kinds of things, but one traditional Taiwanese filling is braised pork belly, pickled mustard greens, ground peanuts and cilantro.

I wanted to make these to see how easy it would be to make them at Burning Man. Except for the cilantro, pretty much everything can be made ahead, frozen, and heated to order with just a steamer, which should be pretty easy to pull off in the desert.

The process starts with making the dough. It’s a pretty standard yeast dough, and I was lazy with the camera, so just picture in your mind mixing flour, water, sugar, and yeast, and letting it rise for about three hours.

Then cut the dough into balls, roll them out, lightly oil them and fold them in half. Steam for 10 minutes and you have the classic bao wrappers.

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The main filling isĀ pork belly, which I’ve written about before. Along with that are pickled mustard greens, which are minced and then saute’d with a bit of chili and garlic, which frankly I don’t think matters that much. You could just buy them and mince them. I toasted peanuts, ground them in a spice grinder, and added a bit of sugar. That plus fresh cilantro and you’re ready for assembly.

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Surprisingly I thought these were a bit dry. Who would think that pork belly would be dry?! A squirt of kewpie mayonnaise and a touch of sesame oil did the trick and then they were perfect.

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Gua Bao
For the dough
2 1/2 cups flour
1 T sugar
2 tsp dry yeast
1 C water
2 tsp baking powder
sesame oil

1 recipe of Taiwanese Pork Belly
1 package pickled mustard greens, minced
1 C peanuts, toasted & ground with 1 T sugar
fresh cilantro
kewpie mayonnaise

To make the dough: combine the flour and sugar. Dissolve the yeast into the water with a pinch of sugar and wait 1-2 minutes until it starts to foam. Combine the water with teh flour and knead to create a dough. Cover with a damp towel and let rise for 2-3 hours. Punch down the dough, roll it out and cut it into approximately 20 pieces. Roll each piece into about a 3 inch oval, lightly coat one side with sesame oil, and fold in half. Set the buns onto oiled waxed paper, and let rise for about 20 minutes.
Then steam for 8-10 minutes.

Smear a little bit of mayonnaise onto the inside of the bao. Then fill each bao with a healthy portion of pork belly, a spoonful of minced pickled mustard greens, a few cilantro leaves and a sprinkle of ground peanuts.

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