Recipe: Pork Belly and Tofu Bao (buns)


I love BAO, these steamed buns of all sorts of shapes that you can find in Chinese restaurants. I love it so much that I was curious to know how to make it and decided to try myself. I made two versions: pork belly for me and tofu for Jodi (not entirely vegetarian as it contains fish sauce). It is not that this recipe is complicated, but it takes some time.

Time: 3 hours


For the buns:

  • bun flour (Bot banh bao - bought on the internet - it is available on Amazon)
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil

For the pork belly:

  • 2 lb pork belly
  • 2 tbsp coarse salt
  • 2 tbsp pepper

For the marinade:

  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup spring roll sauce (sweetness to counterbalance the vinegar)
  • 1/8 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 4 green onions
  • 2 tbsp garlic
  • 1 tsp powdered ginger

For the garnish:

  • Hoisin sauce
  • cilantro
  • iceberg lettuce

Step 1: Roasting of the pork belly - 2h15

When I received the pork belly I ordered, it was cut into three slabs. So I put each slab 1/2 inch from each other and rubbed them with a mix of salt and pepper. Then, I put them into some aluminum foil that I closed, not too tight, but put enough to avoid the juice to leak as the pork, while cooking will release a bit of it.

I then roasted the pork belly for two hours in the oven at 275 degree Fahrenheit. This slow cooking process will give a tender and juicy meat. If you have a bigger slab of pork belly, cook it longer at a slightly lower temperature. After two hours, you obtain a perfectly cooked pork that you will slice evenly:

Step 2: preparation of the marinade

Cut the green onions in small even pieces (you will use the white and light green part of the onion). In a saucepan, sauté the onions, the garlic and the ginger, mixing with a spoon and making sure it does not burn. When the garlic starts to be brown, remove from the heat.

In a bowl, put the rice vinegar, spring rolls sauce, soy sauce, water and the mixture of onions and garlic you just prepared. Mix all the ingredients together.

Step 3: sauté the tofu and pork belly

In a saucepan, sauté some slices of tofu in olive oil, at high heat, flipping them after 5 minutes.

In another saucepan, do the same with the pork belly, but flip the slices once brown. They will release some fat that will be used later. 

Step 4 - Marinate the pork belly and tofu


Pour half of the marinade in each pan, cover and cook at lo heat for 25 minutes.

Step 5 - Making the buns

To make the buns, I simply followed the recipe on the package:

In a bowl, pour the milk and vegetable oil, add slowly the flour and mix with your hand for 10 minutes until obtaining a firm dough. Let it rest for 15 minutes and then knead for 5 more minutes.

Flatten the dough with a rolling pin. Cut the dough in a round shape with a glass or bowl and flatten again with a rolling pin. Fold delicately in half and put on a piece of wax paper. With the packet of flour, you will make approximately 12 buns. Put in a steamer (i use a couscoussier) for 25 minutes. Let the buns cool for 5 minutes.

Step 6: Serve!

Open the buns delicately. Spread some hoisin sauce inside, on both sides, and put a slice of pork belly or tofu, topped with iceberg lettuce and cilantro. Et voila!

Bon appétit!

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