I don’t know about you but I am OBSESSED with Taiwanese pork belly baos or gua bao! Whenever they’re on the menu, I always have to order them but with inflation at it’s peak, I’ve been making a conscious effort to cook more meals at home. I realized that many of my favorite restaurant foods can be made right in the comfort of my home, and even better!
The pork belly is braised in a rich and savory sauce until it’s tender and melts in your mouth. This gua bao is the perfect combination of salty, sweet, and spicy – and I promise you’ll be hooked after just one bite!
Soft and pillowy steamed baos are the foundation of this recipe and I think it’s worth the extra time and effort to make them from scratch. You can also make them in advance and keep them in the freezer which is what I usually do. Check out my Perfectly Steamed Bao Bun recipe to pair with this succulent pork belly!
If you’re looking to level up your bao or pork belly game, give this recipe a try!
Pork Belly Bao
- 6-8 steamed baos homemade or store-bought
- 1 lb skin-on pork belly
- 1 tbsp oil
- 3 garlic cloves smashed
- 4 slices ginger
- 2 tbsp rock sugar
- 1 star anise
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 tsp Chinese five spice powder
- 1/2 tsp white pepper powder
- 3 tbsp Shaoxing wine
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 3 tbsp dark soy sauce
- 2 cups water
- Fresh cilantro
- Crushed roasted peanuts
- Sliced Thai chilis substitute with jalapeno or serrano pepper
- Cut the pork belly into 1-inch thick and 3 inch long pieces.
- In a large cast iron pot or dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat.
- Sear the pork belly in a single layer for 1-2 minutes on each side. Repeat for all pork belly pieces. Remove and set aside.
- In the same pot, toss in ginger and garlic and saute for 1-2 minutes until fragrant. To the pot, add water, rock sugar, star anise, bay leaf, Chinese five spice powder, white pepper powder, Shaoxing wine, soy sauce, and dark soy sauce. Add the pork belly pieces back into the pot.
- Bring to a boil then reduce to a low simmer. Cover the pot with a piece of parchment paper and lid. Simmer on low for one hour.
- After one hour, remove the lid and parchment paper and simmer for another 20-30 minutes or until the sauce has thickened into the consistency of warm honey. Flip the pork belly half way so both sides are evenly coated. Be sure to keep an eye on the pork belly to prevent it from burning.
- Prepare the steamed baos and set aside until ready to assemble.
- To assemble the bao, take a steamed bao and place cilantro on the bottom. Next, layer on a piece of the braised pork belly, a spoonful of braising sauce, more cilantro on top, crushed peanauts and a few slices of Thai chilis.