Learn how to make the well balanced Taiwan style pork belly buns with super soft, fluffy steamed buns and full of flavor fillings. I love the nutty taste with salty pork belly, sweet peanuts, sour fried mustard green and freshness of coriander leaves .
Gua Bao or Taiwanese pork belly bun is one of the most popular food in Taiwan. As a big Taiwan food fan, I always want to reproduce them at home. Previously, you must have read taiwanese minced pork over rice (lu rou fan) and taiwanese peppercorn chicken. Taiwan food shares lots of similarities with food in mainland China. However they are so unique due to different combinations and serving ways.
It is a custom to eat gua bao especially at the end of one year. Gua Bao has an interesting name “tiger bites pig” due to the mouth like bun shell and the pig meat inside. The unique fold over buns are popular in mainland China too, with another lovely name: lotus leaf buns (荷叶包) as it can fold closely just like lotus leaf. We usually match lotus leaf buns with minced meat and vegetables too.
If you did not taste only of those food I mentioned above, the universal truth that will push you to make at least one batch in kitchen is that flour+meat =one of the the best tastes in the world. I can find my confidence in an old Chinese snack in the old city Xi’an– rou jia mo. That’s the mainland five star pork belly buns.
This recipe’s bun dough is similar to Chinese steamed buns, but I add 1 tablespoon of cooking oil as Gua Bao contains meat filling. Usually for meat filling dough, we add a small amount of oil in the dough. It prevents the oily filling permeate the skin.
Steamed Gao Bao (8 ones)
2 cups all purpose flour
125ml water or 150ml milk (3.5% fat)
2 tsp. instant yeast
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons of sugar (optional)
1 tbsp. vegetable oil (optional)
In a stand mixer, mix all the ingredients for 9-12 minutes with hook and low speed until get a elastic, smooth and soft dough. Shape it to a large ball and cover with a wet cloth. Set aside for proofing (around 1 hour).
When the dough is about 1.5 times (or double, please do not over-proofed) in size, transfer out and re-knead until smooth in surface again (key step to smooth surface). Divide into 8 portions. Knead each of the portions for 1 or 2 minutes until smooth. Roll each of the small balls to an oval like shape.
Slightly dust the oval (or brush a layer of oil on surface) and fold the dough over by the middle.
Place them in steamer, turn up the fire and heat for 2-3 minutes, turn off the fire and wait for 15 minutes. Re-start the fire and steam the buns for 10 minutes after the water boils.
pickled mustard green (minced and stir-fried)
1 cup toasted peanuts
1 tbsp. sugar powder
Fresh coriander leaves
Pickled mustard green is known as Suan cai (酸菜) in Chinese with a very unique sour taste. After stir-frying, it presents a milder sour taste that can kill any greasy feeling. If this one is unavailable, you can use other pickles like Kimchi.
The real taiwanese version uses sweet peanuts. Firstly toast the peanuts and then ground into larger particles, mix with 1 tablespoon of sugar powder.
Optional spicy sauce
2 fresh thai pepper+2 minced garlic+1 teaspoon minced scallion+1 tbsp light soy sauce+1 tbsp sesame oil.
Filling–Taiwanese braised pork
Taiwan style braised pork in the mail role of the filling. Since it is a quite long post, I hope you can directly check Taiwan braised pork lu rou fan.
For meat lovers (like my husband), use whole slab of pork belly.
If you do not want so much meat a time, break the slab into several smaller pieces and match with more peanuts and fried Suan cai. That’s my favorite version.
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 125ml water or 140ml milk (3.5% fat)
- 2 tsp. instant yeast
- pinch of salt
- 2 tablespoons of sugar (optional)
- 1 tbsp. vegetable oil (optional)
- pickled mustard green (minced and stir-fried)
- 1 cup toasted peanuts
- 1 tbsp. sugar powder
- Coriander leaves
- 2 fresh thai pepper
- 2 minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon minced scallion
- 1 tbsp light soy sauce
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1kg pork belly (skin on)
- 1 cup fried shallots
- 25g rock sugar
- 4 tablespoons light soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons soy paste. (or 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce)
- 4 tablespoons Shaoxing wine
- 4-5 garlic cloves, sliced
- 1/4 teaspoon white pepper powder
- 2 green onions
- 1 teaspoon Chinese five spice powder
- Cut the pork belly into large slabs. Place in a pot with enough cold water, bring to a boil and continue cooking for 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer out, drain and clean.
- Heat around 1 tablespoons of oil in a wok and then fry the pork belly until browned. Transfer to a simmering pot, add all the other ingredients and enough water except fried shallots, bring to a boil and continue cooking for around 1hour. Add fried shallots if you plan to use and continue simmering for 30 minutes to 50 minutes until the pork belly becomes really soft.
- In a stand mixer, mix all the ingredients for 9-12 minutes with hook and low speed until get a elastic, smooth and soft dough. Shape it to a large ball and cover with wet cloth. Set aside for proofing (around 1 hour).
- When the dough is about 1.5 times in size, transfer out and re-knead until smooth in surface again (key step to smooth surface). Then divide into 8 portions. Knead each of the portions for 1 or 2 minutes until they are smooth. And then roll each of the small balls to an oval like shape.
- Slightly dust the oval (or brush a layer of oil on surface) and fold the dough over by the middle.
- Place them in steamer, turn up the fire and heat for 2-3 minutes, turn off the fire and wait for 15 minutes. Re-start the fire and steam the buns for 10 minutes after the water boils.
- Mix all the ingredients for optional Chili sauce.
- Heat around 3 tablespoons of oil in wok and then fry minced pickled mustard green for 2-3 minutes until aroma.
- Smash toasted peanuts and mix with 1 tablespoon of sugar powder.
- Add braised pork, mustard green, sweet smashed peanuts and fresh coriander leaves.
I hope you will love it. If you make Gua Bao at home, tag me @chinasichuanfood on Instagram and let me know.