These originated from Fuzhou (福州) a city in Fujian (福建). It literally means to cut a bun. I’d call this the Chinese sandwich, because it works like one. However, I didn’t choose to make it that way. What I do is to brush oil when folding the bun.
Since many Fujian people migrated to many parts of the world, these sandwich-like bun can be seen anywhere in the world! Very often, they are served with pork belly, and therefore sometimes called the pork belly bun.
In Singapore, we call it Kong Bak Bao (扣肉包). In Taiwan, Gua Bao (割包 or 刈包) and I saw that in Vietnam, it is open-faced Banh bao.
This is a standard recipe I have created for all yeast steamed buns. It is really easy. 70C hot water – Flour ratio is 1:2. Then add a teaspoon of salt, a tablespoon of sugar, and a teaspoon of yeast. Knead until smooth or maximum of about 10 minutes.
For the pork belly, cook whatever way you like, I think 0.5cm is a maximum width to cut them. You can barbeque, braise, deep fry, anything! In this recipe, I braised mine. Then, add any sauce you like! Soya sauce, chillies, sweet and sour, even BBQ sauce. And then add any condiment you like: lettuce, coriander leaves, chopped chilies, green onions, onions…. and hm… maybe even coleslaw : that one I have not tried.
These are so flexible and so yummy. I do mine in exactly 1 hour. The secret is in the order I do things. So read on…
Roll the dough to a longish circle and brush it with oil
Gua Bao or Kong Bak Bao
- 500 g Hong Kong Flour or plain flour, but it won't be as pretty
- 270 g water at 70C
- 1 tsp instant yeast
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp baking powder optional
- Some oil for brushing do not add into the dough!
Braise Pork Belly
- 1 kg pork belly at room temperature
- 1/2 cup dark soya sauce
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 1/4 cup cooking wine or sherry
- 1 tsp salt to taste
- 1 tsp pepper to taste
- 1 tsp cumin or 5 spice powder
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1/2 big onion
- 5 thin slices of ginger
- Mix everything and knead for a maximum of 10 minutes or until the dough is smooth. If your dough is dry, use a bit more water. The dough should not be sticky.
- Put the dough into a ziplog bag or cover it with a wet cloth. Never expose the dough before it is steamed to air/wind. Leave until it is doubled, or about 15 minutes. If your dough does not rise at this point, throw it out and check that your yeast has not lost its efficacy, restart.
- When proving, cook the pork belly.
- After the dough is proved for the first time and the pork belly is in the pot cooking, divide the dough into 20 balls. Try to be as equal as you can, or use a weighing machine. Each piece is 40g.
- Always cover the dough after and before cutting.
- After dividing all the dough, start with the first dough ball made. Roll it out into an oval-like circle: more oval than circle.
- Brush oil over it, then fold over.
- Place the bun onto a steamer that is lined with grease proof paper.
- Leave it to proof at 30 to 35C for another 15 to 20 minutes, not more or your bun will not be smooth.
- Go back to check your pork belly. Should be almost done. Adjust the taste.
- Prepare the condiments: wash lettuce, cut cilantro etc.
- When the 20 minutes is up, set your steamer for 8 minutes and steam.
- Get your table ready to serve!
- Cut the pork belly into 1/2 cm slices.
- Scald the meat with piping hot water: just pour the water over the pork and drain it dry.
- Place all the meat into a pot with all the other ingredients.
- Set it cook for about 30-45 minutes at medium heat. (cook longer if you want your pork softer)
- Serve with buns and condiments.