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


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!


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.


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


The finished buns looked pretty good!


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


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


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!


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. 



London: Scandi lunch at Aster


The building works near Victoria station has been going on for years, but now some parts of the development are finally ready. The rest is still a building site but the whole Nova area is brand new and quite exciting. There’s a Shake Shack (yum!), Franco Manca (yes, please!) and lots more restaurants to explore. The Scandinavian one was the first one I tried out, with my dear friends Gaby and Rowena for lunch one weekend.

Aster, as the restaurant is called, has a very nice interior (like all D&D London restaurants) and has a café area, restaurant area, bar and deli.


We had lunch in the café area but it still felt restauranty enough for a lunch.


With lots of familiar items on the menu it was difficult to choose but we got there in the end.


Gaby had the meatballs with potato mash, cream sauce and lingonberries. Really nice and I got a small case of food envy (even though my homemade meatballs are really nice too!).


I went for the smørrebrød (open-faced Danish sandwiches). One with pork belly, apple sauce and lovely crackling on rye.


And one with prawns and mayonnaise. The pork sandwich was lovely and ticked all the boxes but I was disappointed with the prawn sandwich. It tasted nice, but I would have expected at least the double amount of prawns. Smørrebrød always have more toppings than bread but here that wasn’t the case.


Rowena had the Aster Caeser salad with prawns, smoked vendace and rye croutons, but it arrived without the fish on the plate (!) and we had to ask for it. Then it took quite a while until the complete salad arrived and it was also smaller in size than the first one.


The food was nice though (not wow – but nice) so we had pudding as well. Rowena had the apple cake with custard above which was really nice.


And Gaby and I had a cinnamon bun each which was amazing. Still warm, buttery and lovely. We also spied people around us having afternoon tea which looked great so definitely want to go back and try that.

There are definitely a few tweaks to be done here, both when it comes to food and service (it was rather slow and wobbly) but hopefully it was all teething problems and it’s fixed now.

Aster restaurant, 150 Victoria Street, London SW1E 5LB

Pork belly with rosti and creamy ‘shrooms with white wine

Pork belly is not at all as popular in Sweden as it is here, but it is getting more and more common, which is great. It seems like pork in general is coming back after being seen as ‘fatty’ for quite a long time.

This dish has almost the same components as last time I made pork belly, and I wouldn’t say that this is an improvement – just a variation – and just as good as the last recipe.

The crispy rosti (with both potatoes and Jerusalem artichoke) is crunchy and goes well with the tender meat underneath the crackling, and the creamy mushrooms certainly add nice flavours and brings the dish together.

I ended up with some left over creamy ‘shrooms and they came to use for lunch next day as a filling in an omelette. Yummy that too!

Pork belly, serves 2 portioner

2 slices pork belly with shallow cuts in the fat


a few sprigs of thyme

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

Turn the heat up to 250C and fry the meat for another 10 minutes until the crackling is crisp.

Rosti with Jerusalem artichokes, serves 2

4-5 medium potatoes

1-2 Jerusalem artichokes

a knob of butter for frying

salt, black pepper

Wash the potatoes and peel the artichokes. Melt the butter in a frying pan on medium-high temperature. Grate the root veg and place in four heaps in the pan. Flatten with a spatula and fry for 3-4 minutes on each side, until crspy on the outside and cooked through. Season.

Creamy mushrooms with white wine, serves 2-3

ca 100 g button mushrooms, sliced

1 clove of garlic

some fresh thyme

butter for frying

50 ml dry white wine

150 ml creme fraiche

100 ml cream

1-2 tsp dijon mustard

a few drops sherry vinegar

1 pinch of sugar

salt, white pepper

Brown the mushrooms and garlic in butter, but make sure not to burn the garlic. Add the wine and lower the heat. When the wine has reduced to half, then add the creme fraiche and cream. Let it thicken while stirring. Add dijon, thyme, vinegar and suger. Season.

Pork belly, Jerusalem artichoke purée and creamy black trumpets

In a way it has been liberating food wise to move to the UK. It might sound silly, but in the UK everyone eats. In Sweden not so much.

Maybe it is because the world’s perception of Swedish people as blond, slim and beautiful that Swedish girls in general don’t eat much. They are all very conscious about what they eat and unless it is low-carb, low-fat the food is merely pushed around the plate instead of put in the mouth.

This is a generalisation of course, but for a foodie, this environment felt rather hostile. Moving to the UK almost four years ago, I could not believe it when the really slim women in my office had a sandwich and a packet of crisps for lunch. I mean bread? Crisps? And they still stayed slim. Was that even possible? Of course it was. In the UK people ate the way we did when I was young; everything in moderation. And it works.

But you can imagine that if people don’t want bread for lunch they certainly wouldn’t eat crackling. In Sweden a few years ago it seemed that it was only chicken breasts and salmon fillets that people ate. Some still do, and I am sick and tired of both. But foodies eat differently, thank God, and restaurants with the same philosophy as St John are opening up everywhere in Sweden and it seems more OK to actually eat there now. Or maybe I just don’t care anymore.

Pork belly, Jerusalem artichoke purée and creamy black trumpets, serves 2

2 slices pork belly


a few sprigs thyme

300 g Jerusalem artichokes, peeled

3 tbsp salted butter

1 handfull dried black trumpets, soaked in water

1 tbsp butter

1 garlic clove

a splash of dry white wine

50 ml cream

1 tsp concentrated vegetable stock

salt, white pepper

Preheat the oven to 125C. Place the pork belly slices in a buttered dish. Rub salt into the crackling and add some salt all over. Place the thyme on the meat. Let it cook for at least two hours or until tender.

Cut the artichokes in equal pieces, cover with water in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Cook until soft. Turn the oven up to 250C and cook the meat for another 10 minutes until the crackling crisps up.

Squeeze the water from the mushrooms and chop roughly. Fry in the butter on high heat for about 5 minutes. Add the wine and let some evaporate. Add the cream and stock and let it thicken.

Purée the artichokes with the butter, season ieth salt and pepper.  

Perfect pork belly

Crackling. One of my favourite English words actually. I just think it describes exactly what a crackling is. You totally get that it is something crispy that cracks, but it still sounds appealing.

And crackling certainly is appealing. I LOVE that British people in general fight over the crakling when they eat pork belly for Sunday lunch. In Sweden animal fat has been taboo for a while, but it is coming back now. And in Denmark you can buy cracklings in bags, just like crisps, with different seasonings. Love it!

I have cooked pork belly a few times now, as it was totally new to me when I moved here, it has been a bit trial an error. I have learnt though, that the key is to cook the meat slowly on low heat for a few hours, then turn the heat up to crisp up the crackling even further. Then it helps to let the meat rest for a while before serving and fighting over the crackling.

Porkbelly with roasted root vegetables, broccoli and a creamy sauce.

The perfect porkbelly, serves 2

ca 400 g porkbelly

salt, herb salt or ground herbs (like sage, oregano, parsley)

white pepper

Heat up the oven to 125C. Cut lines in the fat  in a check pattern if this is not done already. Rub with plenty of salt and the herbs. Make sure it goes down in the cracks. Season the meat all around. Cover a roasting tin with tin foil and place the meat, fat up in it. Place in oven and cook for 2-3 hours. When the meat is really tender, turn the heat up to 180C for 10 minutes to crisp up the crackling even more. Let the meat rest, covered in tin foil, for a few minutes before serving.