Bao Buns (Gua Bao)

Bao Buns or Gua Bao
Taiwan's traditional food - Gua Bao. Copyright: maxsheb

Bao buns or preferably Gua bao is a pork belly bun which is highly popular in China, Malaysia, Taiwan and Japan. It is generally popular street food.

Incidentally, bao buns is a misnomer because bao also means bun so it would translated as ‘bun bun’!

The food is mainly a slice of stewed meat and condiments sandwiched between flat steamed bread known as lotus leaf bread. The meat is most often pork. The condiments are usually sliced raw cabbages, homemade pickles of various sorts and a choice of other foods. Some lovely examples include fillings such as marinated duck and teriyaki sauce, softshell crab tempura and a good quality crab sauce, shiitake mushroom tempura with tonkatsu sauce. One of our favourites is chicken kara-age and sriracha mayo. 

Recipe

Preparation: 40 minutes

Cooking: 25 minutes

Ingredients

  • 500-525g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 tsp fast-action dried yeast
  • 1½ tbsp caster sugar, plus a pinch
  • 50ml milk
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil, plus extra for brushing and for the bowl
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp baking powder

Preparation Of Gua Bao

Step 1: Making The Dough

Stir together the plain flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and yeast. Make sure the salt doesn’t come into direct contact with the yeast as it spoils it.

Use a stand mixer or simply mix by hand in a large bowl. Pour in the water, milk and cream.

Knead for 10 minutes, until the dough does not stick to the sides of the bowl.

Step 2: Proving And Shaping

Get a little oil onto your hands and form the dough into a ball. Oil the bowl and replace the dough. Cover with clingfilm and prove for an hour, until doubled in size. Roll the dough into a sausage shape and cut into equal portions  of about 75g each.

Roll the portions into balls, then flatten into ovals.

Rub with a little oil, then fold them over using chopsticks or any suitable cutlery.

Place the folded buns onto a baking tray, cover with clingfilm and prove for another 20 minutes.

Step 3 Steaming

Bring a little water to the boil in a medium saucepan.

Place a bamboo steamer or a wire rack covered with a bowl over the pan and line it with baking paper. Carefully place the dough into the steamer. Steam for 20 minutes before allowing to cool.

Use any suitable filling as we described earlier.

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