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Sweet & Sticky Pork Belly Bao Buns (Gua Bao)

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Sweet and sticky pork belly bao buns (Gua bao) are truly a dish you’ll want to try at least once in your life! Seriously, these are a MUST TRY and whether you plan to make them for yourself or your guests, this recipe delivers. Fluffy and warm steamed bao with rich pork belly combined with the bright fresh vegetables, can you really go wrong? 

If you’re a foodie like me, these bao buns may have popped up on your Instagram feed at some point. If you’ve seen them, wanted to try them but haven’t yet, this is your sign! They are a popular street food in Taiwan and for a good reason. The perfect handheld food, they really are quite the treat and SO SATISFYING. 

This is one of those recipes where the effort pays off. Most of the work is in making the bao buns (but theres a shortcut for that). As for the pork itself, you need to add the ingredients to  pot, set it, and forget it. Giving time for the aromatics to really penetrate the pork will give you the rich flavour we’re looking for. 

The real flavour is in the aromatics

There are plenty of versions online with variations of this recipe. When recreating this recipe, it was important for me to let the aromatics shine. This recipe includes a number of fresh and dried aromatics. I recommend dry roasting them in a pan to get the most out of their flavour. By taking a few minutes to do this, it will make a world of difference in the final dish. 

Bao buns are easier to make than you think

For a quick shortcut, you may be able to find frozen lotus leaf buns at your local Asian grocery store. These are great because all you need to do is add them to a steamer. I’m all for getting my hands dirty and working with dough is fun for me. That’s why I used this Lotus Leaf Bun recipe from The Woks of Life. The recipe yielded about 12 buns for me. If you don’t need that many, you can freeze any extras. That way, you can satisfy any future cravings. 

Looking for more Asian Recipes?

Check out some of my other recipes for meal inspiration:

Garnish it your way

As delicious and the bao and pork combo is, the garnishes are what help cut through the richness and bring all the flavours together. The refreshing flavour of cucumber, cilantro, and carrots help round everything out. If you want to switch it up, pickled vegetables are also a great pairing for these buns. I always like to keep a jar of pickled radish and carrot in my fridge. I used The Viet Vegan’s recipe for Do Chua (pickled carrots and Daikon). Finish is off with a sprinkle of sesame seeds and you have yourself some drool worthy pork belly bao!   

Sweet & Sticky Pork Belly Bao Buns (Gua Bao)

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Recipe by asiamakes Course: Lunch, Dinner, AppetizersCuisine: Asian


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  • 2 lbs of pork belly cut into 1 ½ inch slices

  • ½ cup Chinese cooking wine

  • 1 ½ cup Chicken stock

  • ⅓ cup dark soy sauce

  • 1 tbsp peppercorns

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 2 star anise

  • 5 dried red chillies

  • 1 tbsp five spice

  • 1 inch nub of ginger, sliced

  • 4 cloves garlic

  • 2 scallions

  • 2 pieces of rock sugar

  • Toppings
  • Fresh cilantro leaves

  • Thinly sliced cucumbers

  • Thinly sliced green onion

  • Pickled carrot and daikon (optional)

  • Crushed peanuts


  • To a dry pan on medium heat, add star anise, peppercorns, bay leaves, and dried chillies. Heat until fragrant. This will bloom the spices.
  • To the same pan, char the ginger. Remove once ginger becomes fragrant.
  • To a shallow pan, add pork belly and brown all sides until golden.
  • Once pork belly is browned, add cooking wine, chicken stock, soy sauce, bloomed spices, five spice, ginger, garlic, scallions, and rock sugar to the pot. Stir to combine.
  • Cover and allow pork to braise until liquid is reduced. This should take around 45-60 minutes. Turn pork belly occasionally to allow the sauce to evenly coat the meat.
  • When pork belly is almost ready, bring a pot of water to boil.
  • Line a bamboo steamer with parchment and add bao buns. Steam for 3 minutes or until cooked.
  • Remove pork belly from pan and cut into ¼ inch slices,
  • Add to fresh steamed bao buns.
  • Top with cilantro, cucumber green onion, crushed peanuts, and optional pickled vegetables. Enjoy!

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