PORK BELLY BAO
IngredientsServes 12 bao buns
1 lb (500 g) pork belly, with the skin on, prick skin with a sharp paring knife
1 tbsp (30 ml) white or palm sugar
1 tbsp (30 ml) dark soy sauce
1 tbsp (30 ml) regular soy sauce
2 tsp (10 ml) Chinese Shaoxing cooking wine
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
⅛ of a small onion, peeled
1 green onion, cut into ½-in (1.25 cm) lengths
¼-in (0.5 cm) ginger slice
½ piece Thai chili, or more, to taste
½ piece star anise
¼-in (0.5 cm) piece cinnamon stick
1 cup (250 ml) water, plus extra
12 frozen bao buns (Available at Asian markets in the frozen section. They may be called Chinese/ Taiwanese Hamburger Buns.)
2 stalks green onions, sliced thinly
3 tbsp (45 ml) cilantro, picked
1 Thai chilli, thinly sliced (optional)
¼ cup (60 ml) roughly chopped roasted cashews
1 cup (250 ml) Napa cabbage (siu choy), sliced thinly
¼ cup (60 ml) rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp (15 ml) white sugar
1 tsp (5 ml) salt
- Preheat oven to 250 F (130 C). Place the pork belly in an ovensafe baking dish or pot just large enough to fit the pork.
- In a pot, combine remaining ingredients up to (but not including) bao buns. Bring mixture to a boil then pour over pork belly. Add enough water to cover belly. Cover with foil and cook in the oven for 5 to 6 hours, or until tender. Flip pork over halfway through cooking.
- Once done cooking, remove pork from braising liquid and place on a baking tray. Lay a piece of plastic wrap over pork and place another baking tray or flat plate on top. Place a heavy can on the plate to weigh down the pork, and place in refrigerator overnight to press the meat.
- Strain braising liquid and discard the aromatics and spices, chill overnight.
- When ready to serve, discard the solidified fat from the braising liquid, then reduce liquid in a saucepan over medium heat. The liquid should coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Slice pork belly into ½-in (1.25 cm) thick pieces that will fit inside bao buns. Heat pork belly in the reduced braising liquid over medium heat, turning occasionally to glaze the pork all over with the sauce.
- Steam buns in a bamboo steamer for 5 to 8 minutes, or until soft. Place 1 to 2 pieces heated pork belly in each bun and garnish with ¼ cup (60 ml) Pickled Cabbage, green onions, chilies, cilantro and cashews.
- To make PICKLED CABBAGE, In a bowl, mix together all ingredients. Squeeze mixture with hands until liquid starts to come out of cabbage. Store in a sealed container or glass jar overnight. The cabbage can be stored in the refrigerator in the pickling liquid for up to 1 month.
- When ready to use, take out desired serving amount and squeeze liquid from cabbage. Makes 1 cup (250 ml).