The Taiwanese snack food gua bao, known simply as bao, has become the ‘it’ snack food. With the likes of Yum Bun dishing them out to long waiting queues at street food markets, more and more Asian restaurants are offering them, or like Bao specialising in them, and even Nigella Lawson included them in her last BBC series. It’s hard to not love bao, they’re so versatile, you can fill them with almost anything, they even lend themselves to being deep-fried with ice-cream. But they’re really easy to make at home, and make for a great light lunch, sharing food with friends or just as an alternative to sandwiches. While you can fill them with almost anything, pork belly is the classic and an easy place to start.
Ingredients: Serves 2
For the Pork
4 pork belly strips
2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
Pinch of chilli
Spoonful of honey
2 spoons of soy sauce
Small nub of ginger – sliced
Pinch of salt and pepper
For the Bao
Spring onions – sliced
12 thin slices of cucumber
Few leaves of coriander
Tablespoon of crushed peanuts (unsalted and optional)
4 bao buns – available from Chinese supermarkets
Place the pork belly strips and rest of the ingredients for the pork in a bowl. Mix everything together, cover with cling film and place in the fridge to marinate for 1 hour.
Heat the oven to 180°C fan. Place the pork belly on a roasting tray and pour over the rest of the marinade. Put in the oven and cook for 45 minutes.
While the pork roasts, cook the bao buns in accordance with the instructions on the packaging.
Once both the pork and the buns are cooked, fill each bun with a few slices of cucumber, pork, then top with a little hoisin sauce, spring onion, coriander and a sprinkle of the peanuts (if using) and serve.