Gua Bao or Pork Belly Buns is one of the most popular Taiwanese foods you can ever eat. Juicy and tender pork belly is mixed with pickled vegetables and stuffed inside a soft and fluffy bread. It is a quintessential Taiwanese food that everybody loves. And in this recipe, I’ll show you how to make it as authentic as possible.
Gua Bao / Taiwanese Pork Belly Buns / 刈包 is one of my most favorite foods to eat of all time.
Every year when I visit Taiwan, I always make it a mission of mines to run straight to a night market in order to grab one of these baos to eat.
After all, who doesn’t like a soft and fluffy sandwich that is stuffed to the brim with fatty pork belly pieces and pickled vegetables?
One bite of this amazing bao had me instantly hooked, I just knew I had to have more and more.
Once I came back to the states, I was sad to learn that there wasn’t any places near me that actually sold this type of bao. In fact, many of the places near me sell it in a different kind of way where they don’t use the traditional fillings and instead opt to go more creative.
For instance some of the locations near me have fillings like soft shell crab, fatty duck meat, smoked salmon and more.
Which isn’t bad by any means, but sometimes I just want the old traditional Gua Bao.
And that is why I’m writing this post.
I want to share with the world exactly how a Gua Bao is suppose to be made.
The traditional way.
I want everybody to be able to taste this wonderful bao in all its glory.
What Is A Gua Bao?
Gua Bao / Taiwanese Pork Belly Buns / 刈包 which is also known as pork belly buns, is basically a bao sandwich.
The bread which is basically the same as a “Mantou“, except it is made into a sandwich form.
Then you have the filling which is typically braised pork belly, cilantro, pickled mustard greens and peanut powder.
Add that all together, and you will have one of the most delicious sandwiches ever.
Now that is the traditional Gua Bao.
Ingredients To Make Gua Bao
The ingredients you’ll need to make a Gua Bao / Taiwanese Pork Belly Buns / 刈包 is relatively simple to make.
Although it may be a bit time consuming as you’ll have to make each one of the ingredients.
The ingredients you’ll need to make a Gua Bao is as followed:
- Gua Bao Bun
- Braised Pork Belly
- Pickled Mustard Greens
- Peanut Powder
How To Make Gua Bao
This is going to be a long post.
I will show you exactly how to make each one of these ingredients so that you’ll be able to make a Gua Bao / Taiwanese Pork Belly Buns / 刈包 in all its glory.
The only thing we won’t be making is the “Pickled Mustard Greens” and “Cilantro” as you can easily buy them at any Asian supermarket for an insanely cheap price.
Making The Gua Bao Bun
Making the Gua Bao is a pretty fun thing to do.
It will however take some time.
The ingredients you’ll need to make the Gua Bao bun is as followed:
- All Purpose Flour – 4 Cups
- Water – Up to 1 1/3 Cup
- Instant Yeast – 2 Teaspoons or 1 packet
- Sugar – 1 Tablespoon
- Baking Powder – 1 Teaspoon
First grab a large mixing bowl, and pour in your flour, water, sugar, baking soda, and active yeast.
You want to mix it around really well until it starts to become a doughy type of texture.
Then on your working surface, dust some flour on top of the surface.
Transfer your doughy mixture onto the top of the work surface.
Knead the dough until it is smooth all around. This should take a few minutes of kneading.
Once the dough has become smooth, put it back into the mixing bowl and cover the bowl up with a warm towel or cloth.
Put the covered bowl somewhere warm so it can rest for about an hour or longer.
I chose the oven because it was the best place in my house for the dough to rest.
After an hour has gone by, your dough should have roughly doubled in size by now.
Dust your work surface again with some light flour, and then take your dough out and place it on top of the work surface.
Continue to knead the dough.
Then after you have kneaded for a good few minutes, take a knife and cut the dough in half.
Roll each half into a log shape dough.
Once you have your log shaped dough, its time to cut them into equal sections.
Using your knife, cut the dough into about 1 inch wide sections.
Then using a rolling pin, roll each section into a flat disc. But make sure it isn’t too flat, you want at least 1 centimeter thickness all around.
Now once you have made your disc shape, you’ll want to add a touch of oil onto the surface of the dough. This is to help prevent it from sticking together when you fold it into a sandwich shape.
Now all you do is fold the disc shape dough in half and you have made your Gua Bao Bun.
Simply repeat these steps until you have turned all of your dough into gua bao buns.
Steaming Your Gua Bao Bun
Once you have made your Gua Bao Buns, it is time to steam them.
Grab your wok or pot and fill it with water.
Bring the water to a boil.
Once the water starts to boil, you’ll want to line your steamer basket with your Gua Bao Buns that you have just made.
Cover the lid and let it steam for about 15 minutes or until they have puffed up in size.
After 15 minutes has passed, turn off the heat and carefully remove the lid.
Your Gua Bao buns should be ready for use now.
Making The Braised Pork Belly
Making the braised pork belly is pretty simple but it does take some time.
If you want to see the post on how to make this recipe, you can click here.
Or if you want a shortened version, then continue reading.
The ingredients you’ll need to make the braised pork belly is as followed:
- Pork Belly – 1 Pound Chopped
- Vegetable Oil – 2 Tablespoons
- Green Onions – 2 Whole Sticks Chopped
- Minced Garlic Cloves – 4 Cloves
- Ginger Slices – 5 Slices
- Brown Sugar – 1/2 Cup
- Rice Wine – 1/4 Cup
- Water – 2 Cups
- Light Soy Sauce – 1/2 Cup
- Dark Soy Sauce – 1/4 Cup
- Star Anise – 1 Piece
Do know that this will take around 1 to 2 hours to make depending on how soft and tender you want the pork belly to be.
The first step in making this is to get a wok and add a touch of vegetable oil to it.
Once the oil is hot enough, add in your chopped pork belly pieces. Cook each side of the pork belly until they are nicely brown. Then remove the pork belly from the wok and set it aside on a dish.
Into the same wok, add in your chopped green onions, garlic and ginger into it. Then stir the contents around until it starts to sizzle and becomes really fragrant. This should take about 1 minute or so.
Now once things start getting really fragrant, you’ll want to add in your brown sugar. Make sure to continue to stir things around until the contents start to bubble. This should take around 1 to 2 minutes.
Once the mixture starts to bubble, you’ll want to return your pork belly pieces back into the pan. Continue to stir everything around so that you can coat the pork belly in that incredible sauce.
Now you’ll want to add in the rice wine into the pan and bring it to a boil. Make sure to continue to stir things around.
After it starts to boil, you’ll want to add in your water, light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, and the star anise to the wok. Then bring it to a boil again.
Once the mixture starts to boil, you’ll want to reduce the heat to a simmer. Then cover the wok with a lid.
Let it cook for about 1 hour at the least for the pork belly to get really tender. If you have the time, I would say let it cook for 2 hours, but if you are short on time, 1 hour is fine.
Once time is up, turn off the heat and check on the pork belly. If it is tender to the touch, then it is ready to use.
Now pour the braised pork belly into a plate or bowl and set aside.
Making The Crushed Peanut Powder
Making the crushed peanut powder is insanely easy to do.
You will however need a food processor or blender.
The ingredients you’ll need to make this recipe is as followed:
- Toasted Unsalted Peanuts – 1 Cup
- Sugar – 2 Tablespoon
Simply add your toasted unsalted peanuts and sugar together into a food processor or blender.
Turn the food processor or blender on to blend them together into a powder.
Make sure not to blend too long or they’ll start sticking together.
You only want to blend it enough where you can get some nice powder texture with some chunky textures as well.
Now pour the crushed peanut powder into a bowl and set aside.
Assembling The Gua Bao Together
Assembling the Gua Bao is a very easy thing to do.
Basically the steps to assemble the Gua Bao is as followed:
First take your Gua Bao Bun and open it.
Next step is to fill it with your juicy and tender braised pork belly.
Then add in your pickled mustard greens.
Then it’s time to add in the cilantro.
Now just gently dust it with some crushed peanut powder and you are done.
Enjoy! See that wasn’t so hard was it?
Other Fillings For Gua Bao
Now the traditional method for Gua Bao / Taiwanese Pork Belly Buns / 刈包 is to fill it with braised pork belly, pickled mustard greens, cilantro and crushed peanut powder.
However nowadays, restaurants and vendors are starting to get more creative with their fillings.
You can find all sorts of things being stuffed inside these bao sandwiches.
Although they probably aren’t called a “Gua Bao” anymore, they still are a type of bao.
Some of the fillings you can use in replace of a braised pork belly includes:
- Soft Shell Crab
- Smoked Salmon and Avocado
- Fatty Duck Meat
- Fried Chicken
- The options are endless
Basically the bao is like a sandwich.
Whatever you want to put inside it, it is all up to you.
How To Store/Keep For Future Use?
In all honesty, I wouldn’t recommend you store/keep the Gua Bao / Taiwanese Pork Belly Buns / 刈包 for too long.
It should essentially be eaten as fresh as possible because each one of the ingredients have a shelf life.
For instance, crushed peanut powder typically lasts for a few days, braised pork belly lasts for around 3 to 4 days, cilantro gets stale the longer you leave it, pickled mustard greens lose their flavor, and more.
Which is why I would suggest you to eat it as soon as possible.
If you must leave it for the future, I would say to put it in an air-tight container or cover it with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge. It should stay good for around 3 days at most.
Gua Bao Recipe (Taiwanese Pork Belly Buns 刈包)
Gua Bao Bun
- 4 Cup All Purpose Flour
- 1 1/3 Cup Water
- 1 Tablespoon Sugar
- 2 Teaspoon Instant Yeast or 1 Packet
- 1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
Braised Pork Belly
- 1 Pound Pork Belly
- 2 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil
- 2 Sticks Green Onion
- 4 Cloves Minced Garlic
- 5 Slices Ginger
- 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
- 1/4 Cup Rice Wine
- 2 Cup Water
- 1/2 Cup Light Soy Sauce
- 1/4 Cup Dark Soy Sauce
- 1 Star Anise
Crushed Peanut Powder
- 1 Cup Toasted Unsalted Peanuts
- 2 Tablespoon Sugar
- 1 Bunch Cilantro Chopped
- 1 Bunch Pickled Mustard Greens
Making The Gua Bao Bun
- Grab a bowl or a cup and fill it with water. Then take your instant yeast and pour it into the water.
- Grab a large mixing bowl and add in your ingredients ( flour, sugar and baking powder). Then slowly pour into the bowl your yeast water while also making sure to mix it around evenly. Keep mixing the mixture around until it forms into a dough like substance.
- Dust your working surface with some flour and knead the dough until it becomes a smooth dough. Then put it back into the bowl and cover it up. Let the dough rest and rise for about 1 hours.
- After your dough has rested, take your dough out of the bowl and knead the dough again. Then cut it in half and roll each half into a log shape.
- Cut the logs into equal sections of about 1 inch wide.
- Then using a rolling pin, roll each section into a circle shape. Make sure to not roll it too thin, you want to give it about 1 centimeter in thickness.
- Lightly brush some oil onto the top surface of the circular dough. Then fold it in half.Continue repeating this step until all of the dough is turned into a sandwich shaped bun.
Steaming Your Buns
- Grab a wok or a pan and fill it with some water.Bring the water to a boil.
- Place the sandwich shaped baos into a steamer lined with a breathable cloth.
- Once the water is boiling, you'll want to place your steamer basket into the boiling water. Make sure to cover the lid.Let it steam for about 15 minutes or until its done.
- After your buns have finished steaming, turn off the heat and use immediately.
Making The Braised Pork Belly
- If you haven't already, grab a chopping board and chop your pork belly into 1 inch thick slices.
- Grab a wok or a pan and heat some oil over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot enough, put in your pork belly pieces. Make sure to arrange them in a single layer so that each piece has direct contact with the bottom of the pan.Cook until the bottom side has slightly browned. Then flip the pieces over and cook the other side until it is slightly browned as well.Once the pork belly has become slightly browned on both sides, remove them from the pan and set it aside.
- To the same pan, you'll want to add in your chopped green onions, garlic and ginger. Stir the contents around until it starts to sizzle and you can smell the fragrant smell. This should take about 30 seconds to a minute.
- After that, you'll want to add in your brown sugar and continue to stir things around. You want to keep stirring it until it starts bubbling which should take about 1 to 2 minutes.
- Return the cooked pork belly pieces back into the pan and stir it around to coat it with the sauce.
- Add rice wine to the mixture and bring it to a boil. Make sure to continue to stir things around. Then you'll want to add in the water, light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, and star anise to the mixture. Continue to stir things around and bring the mixture to a boil.
- Once the mixture starts to boil, reduce the heat to a low simmer and cover the pan with a lid. Let it cook for about 1 to 2 hours or until the pork belly has become super tender and red-stained.
- After time is up, check on the pork belly. If it is soft and tender, turn off the heat and plate the pork belly. Set Aside.
Making Crushed Peanut Powder
- Grab your food processor and blender and pour your peanuts and sugar into it.
- Close the lid of the food processor or blender and then blend everything together. You want to blend it until it becomes a slightly grounded texture with a few peanut chunks inside.
- Pour into a container and set aside.
Forming The Gua Bao
- Open Your Gua Bao and fill it with your braised pork belly, pickled mustard greens and cilantro. Then dust it with some crushed peanut powder.
- Serve immediately
Did you try making my Gua Bao / Taiwanese Pork Belly Buns / 刈包? If so, how were they? I would love to hear all about it down in the comment section below or you can connect with my on Pinterest, Facebook or Instagram.