Recipe: Bao buns with pork belly, spicy mayo and peanuts

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Since imitation is the highest form of flattery, Bao London should be very flattered that I attempted to make my own version of their amazing pork bao buns.

No, it’s nowhere near as good as theirs, but that was never the goal, instead it’s a very nice homemade version of the real thing. And for being a first attempt I think i did pretty well!

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The recipe I used for the dough, is actually from Bao but I used regular plain flour rather than bleached so the buns look a little dull compared to the ones you see in restaurants or Asian supermarkets. I also added more flour as couldn’t shape mine otherwise, but I will publish the recipe I used rather than my version of it, but if you have the same problem as I did, then it works to add more flour.

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I steamed the buns in a regular bamboo steamer with parchment paper at the bottom. So easy!

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The finished buns looked pretty good!

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While making the buns this pork belly was cooking in the oven. So yum!

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And here you see my condiments (clockwise from top left); quick-pickled cucumber, chopped coriander, hot mayo, chopped spring onions and chopped peanuts.

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I made a second version with leftover bulgogi chicken and used the mayo, coriander and spring onions for that one, and for the pork bao I used the mayo, pickled cucumber, peanuts and coriander. Both were really yummy but I must say the pork one was my favourite!

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Bao buns, makes around 20 (you need 2-3 per person)

Adapted from Bao London’s recipe.

500 g plain flour – bleached if you can find it in Chinese supermarkets (it gives that brilliant white colour)
2 tsp yeast
145 ml warm water
2 pinches salt
50g sugar
15 ml vegetable oil, plus extra for brushing
145 ml milk

Mix flour, yeast and warm water together in a bowl. Cover and leave for at least 30 minutes in a warm place until it has doubled in size. Add the remaining ingredients and mix until it comes together as one.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for ten minutes – it will be sticky but gradually become more elastic.

Break off 40 g dough and give it a quick knead, forcing it into an oval shape. Roll it out until around 2-3 mm thick and brush one side with vegetable oil.

Fold one side over the other and press down gently so it forms an oyster shell shape. Place on parchment paper in a warm bamboo steamer and leave to rest for 15 minutes.

Steam for 15 minutes – the bun will rise and puff up but will be easy to break open.

Pork belly

1 pork belly 

salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 125C. Place the pork in a buttered dish. Massage the salt into the rind and season the meat all over. Put in the oven and cook for two hours or until the meat is very tender.

Turn the heat up to 250C and cook the meat for another 10 minutes until the crackling is nice and crispy.

Spicy mayo

100 ml Hellman’s mayo

2-3 tsp Gochujang (Korean chilli paste)

a pinch of salt

Mix the ingredients together in a bowl and set aside. 

Pickled cucumber

1/2 cucumber

1 tsp salt

75 ml caster sugar

acetic acid solution, also called sweet vinegar (1 part acetic acid  + 6-7 parts water)

1 tbsp water

Thinly slice the cucumber. This is easily done with a cheese slicer or potato peeler. Put the cucumber in a jar or bowl and pour in the salt and sugar, next add the acetic acid solution and water. Stir and make sure the salt and sugar dissolves. 

Bao buns with pork belly, spicy mayo and peanuts

bao buns, as above

pork belly, as above – cut into slices

spicy mayo, as above

pickled cucumber, as above

salted peanuts, finely chopped

coriander, finely chopped

Open the buns and spread some mayo onto the bottom half. Place two slices of pork belly on top, add a dollop of mayo and pickled cucumber. Scatter with chopped peanuts and coriander. 

Bao buns with bulgogi chicken, spicy mayo and spring onions

bao buns, as above

bulgogi chicken

spicy mayo, as above

spring onions, thinly sliced

coriander, finely chopped

Open the buns and spread some mayo onto the bottom half. Place two -three pieces of chicken on top, add a dollop of mayo and scatter with spring onions and coriander. 

 

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Chicken satay with rice, peanut sauce and Asian-inspired salad

These juicy chicken scewers are absolutely wonderful. You can serve them cold on a picnic; with a salsa dip as a canapé or with rice and peanut sauce as a fulfilling dinner. The chicken should in an ideal world be marinated for 48 hours, but if in a rush, over night will do fine.

Chicken, rice and peanut sauce needs vegetables. Both the fresh salad with pak choi and this pickled cucumber is a nice contrast to the thick and creamy sauce.

Chicken satay scewers, serves 2

300 g chicken fillets

6 garlic cloves, chopped

4 tsp ground coriander

4 tsp brown sugar

1 tbsp black pepper (no, it is not a typo)

2 tsp salt

120 ml soy

4 tsp freshly grated ginger (or dried)

6 tbsp olive oil

Dice the chicken. Mix the ingredients for the marinade. Place both in a ziplock bag (bowl covered with cling film) and marinate at least over night in the fridge. Put the meat on scewers and fry in oil.

Asian-inspired salad, serves 2

2 pak choi

100 g sugar snaps

a handful radishes, thinly sliced

3 spring onions, sliced

1/2 red onion, sliced

sesame seeds

1/2 lime, the juice

olive oil

Blanch the pak choien and sugar snaps. Plate, and add onions, radishes and sesame seeds. Add the lime juice and olive oil.

Peanut sauce, serves 2

200 g coconut milk

3-4 tbsp smooth peanut butter

1 tbsp sweet chilli sauce

1/2 lime, the juice

Bring the coconut milk to the boil. Add the peanut butter and let it cook for a few minutes. Add sweet chilli and lime juice until it is perfectly balanced.

Asian-inspired quick pickle

1/2 cucumber

acetic acid solution (1 part acetic acid to 7 parts water)

75 ml caster sugar

1 tsp salt

a splash of rice vinegar

1/2 red chilli, finely chopped

coriander, chopped

Slice the cucumber wuth a cheese slicer, mix with the chilli. Add sugar, salt, acetic acid solution to almost cover the mixture and rice vinegar. Add the coriander. Keeps in the fridge for a few days.