This is a great warm bao bun sandwich recipe - incorporating layers of flavour and texture so each mouthful is a sensory explosion. This recipe cranks up the umami dial with sweet, sticky umami pork, contrasting with sharp pickles, crunchy veg textures, creamy mayo and fragrant herbs.
The humble Bao bun's origins are in Northern China. They are made using a dough with yeast and baking powder to create a light and fluffy bun that's then cooked in a steamer. The warm, soft textured bun compliments the flavours of your filling - so you end up with a super-tasty hot sandwich.
You can fill your bao buns with anything you like, although there are a few things to think about. Pork is really popular and I prefer using pork shoulder or belly that's been marinated, as in my Char Siu recipe below. However, chicken, duck, fried fish, mushrooms, tofu and grilled vegetables all work really well. It's important to contrast the richness with something pickled and sharp. Making a quick 15 minute pickle is really easy, I've used carrot and radish in this recipe, but red cabbage, mouli or cucumber are all really good too. Fresh herbs add a lovely fragrance - coriander, mint or basil are my favourite's.
Dipping sauces are also important, the creamy contrast that a flavoured mayo creates is lovely, you could also use hoisin sauce or sweet chilli sauce. I also made a peanut crumb by blitzing up plain toasted peanuts and salt and sugar - this is well worth doing and it's always good to have some finely sliced spring onions.
Our frozen boa buns are so easy to use. There are 10 buns in each bag and you simply steam them straight from frozen for 10 minutes. If you have a stainless steel steamer, make sure you oil the surface before putting the buns inside to prevent them sticking.
Recipe for Sticky Char Siu Pork Bao Buns
For the char siu pork marinade
1kg skinless pork belly, sliced into 1inch strips
3 tablespoons Lee Kum Kee char siu sauce
1 tablespoon Lee Kum Kee hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
½ teaspoon Chinese five spice powder
1 teaspoon soft dark brown sugar
2 tablespoon of white toasted sesame seeds
For the boa buns
1 Bag Bao buns
Other toppings & sauce - OPTIONAL!
3 spring onions, finely sliced
½ bunch fresh coriander
1 fresh red chilli, sliced (optional)
Japanese Kewpie mayonnaise
Mae Ploy Sweet Chilli Sauce
1. Start by marinating the pork. If you can, do this the day before and leave it in the fridge overnight, otherwise try to give it half an hour of marinating at room temperature. Simply mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl, except the sesame seeds, and leave to marinade.
2. To make the pickled vegetables, slice up the carrots and radishes. Put them in a bowl, sprinkle them with the salt and sugar, mix this through and leave for 5 minutes, then pour over the rice wine vinegar. Then leave for 15 minutes or longer.
3. Toast the peanuts under the grill. Then using a food processor, blitz them up with the salt and sugar until you have a coarse crumb.
4. To make the flavoured mayo, simply mix roughly equally quantities of Kewpie mayonnaise with either tonkatsu sauce or sriracha sauce. I like both so I mix two separate bowls.
5. Slice up the spring onions and have the fresh coriander ready.
6. Pre-heat your grill to the maximum temperature, arrange the pork belly slices on a tray and grill them for around 10 minutes on each side. You can roast them in a hot oven or even cook them on a BBQ if you prefer. Once cooked through, sprinkle them with toasted sesame seeds and keep them in a warm ready to use.
7. Steam the buns for 10 minutes straight from frozen, I have to do this in batches as my steamer is not big enough for all 10 buns - don't overlap the buns or lie them on top of each other inside the steamer. You can do this slightly ahead of time, keeping the buns wrapped under clingfilm and then pop them back in the steamer for a couple of minutes to heat up again. Or, just cook 3 or 4 at a time and be patient whilst waiting for the next set of buns are steaming.
8. To assemble your bao buns, open them up and spread a thin layer of tonkatsu mayo on the base. Add in some pickled carrot and radish then a slice of the char siu pork belly, you'll most likely have to cut the slice in half to fit in the bun. Sprinkle over the peanut crumb, some sliced spring onion and a generous amount of fresh coriander. Finish with a drizzle of sriracha mayo and some fresh sliced chillies if you want extra heat.
Enjoy! And don't forget to tag us in your social posts and leave us a review for this recipe below when you make these at home.
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