Gua Bao – roughly translated as Taiwanese Super food.
Gua Bao is one of the best things I have ever eaten. Delicious pulled pork infused with rich Asian flavours, and soft fluffy buns that soak up the sauce and make everything all good. Bao is really popular at the moment, so get on the bandwagon and make some before you look uncool. Make them now and you can be uber-cool, just like me. Also it is really tasty so invite some friends round and become an absolute Legend in their eyes. It looks like a load of ingredients, but it’s very easy to make even if it does take quite a while.
What you need
For the bao/steamed buns
500g plain flour
½ tsp bicarb soda
5g active dry yeast
250g lukewarm water
For the pulled pork
1kg pork shoulder
4 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly crushed
thumb-sized piece of ginger
2 dried red chillies (2 tsp of chilli flakes)
1/2 cup Rice Wine
60ml (4 tbsp) dark soy sauce
4 star anise
1.5 tbsp five spice powder
3 spring onions,
3 tbsp sugar
Salt and pepper
For the spring onion dressing
6 spring onions,
2 tbsp grated ginger
60ml (3 tbsp) sesame oil
45ml (3 tbsp) rice wine vinegar
30ml (2 tbsp) light soy sauce
30ml (2 tbsp) water
Coriander, torn into small sprigs
Pickled Daikon is excellent with this.
The Pulled Pork
Put your pork into a large roasting tray. Obviously chose one that is large enough for the pork to fit in, but not too big for your oven. That is the first step, if you can’t do that I probably wouldn’t bother with the rest of this, but if you have done this then welcome to the thunderdome.
Take all of the ingredients from the pulled pork section above and mix them all together in a bowl. Now pour the mixture all over the pork and begin to massage the mixture into the meat making sure that every crevice and part of the pork is covered in delicious Asian sauce. Once you’ve given your pork a massage you would be happy to tip for put it in the fridge and allow to marinate for at least 6 hours, overnight is best.
Now to roast that bad boy. Turn your oven on as high as it will possibly go and let it get up to temperature. Take your now marinated pork out of the oven and pour the juices over the top one last time. Just before you put the pork in, turn the oven down to 160C and then place your roasting tray on the middle rack. Cook it at this temperature for about 4 hours. While it’s in there cooking away, baste it with the juices that come off every now and then, making sure it remains delicious and moist. After about 4 hours turn the oven down to 150C and cook for approximately 1 and a half hours, or until the meat is tender. When it is nearing the end of cooking time try pulling the edge of the meat with a fork. If it pulls easily then you know the pork is ready to munch.
Leave it to settle for a few moments and then get two forks. Peel the delicious crackling off first and then pull the pork into shreds. Now you got yourself a delicious meat mountain and some of the best crackling this side of Bejing.
Cut out some 2″x3″ rectangles of baking paper and set aside.
Combine the lukewarm water, yeast and sugar in a bowl and allow the yeast to activate for a few minutes.
Place the flour and bicarb soda in the bowl, then add the yeast mixture. Mix together with your hands until the dough forms, then cover with a damp cloth and leave in a warm place for about 20 minutes to rise.
Divide the dough into equal pieces, about 30 g each and roll into a long oval shape. Dip a chopstick into oil and fold the dough over the chopstick, roll the chopstick out (creating an oil layer to stop the top and bottom layers of bao sticking) and set the rolled bao dough onto a square of baking paper – you can just use your finger to do this as well if you haven’t got any chopsticks lying around.
Allow to prove in a warm place for a further 20 minutes. When ready to stick in your gob, steam for 5 minutes or until cooked through. Do not steam for too long as they will start to get hard and turn a weird yellow colour.
Spring Onion Dressing
Combine the spring onions, ginger, oil, vinegar, soy and water in a bowl. Taste and check for salt, adding more soy sauce if you like it saltier. If you want add in some chilli flakes to get your spice on.
Finally crush the peanuts in a pestle and mortar or a spice grinder (if you are feeling lazier) and chop up some coriander. Add them all to little bowls so that you look pro and feast yourself. Build up the buns with pork, sesame dressing, peanuts and add pickled daikon. Hey guess what, now you’ve got some Gua Bao.