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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Recipe: weeknight fish tacos

 

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As much as I sometimes like to make an elaborate all-from-scratch meal on weeknights I am often tired and temped to reach for my phone and Deliveroo. But, most of the time I manage to resist because I can come up with a quick and lovely meal that takes only minutes to cook but gives as much satisfaction as a takeaway.

These fish tacos definitely belongs in that category, and although you can bread your own fish it’s not that much better than the good ones you find at M&S or Waitrose, so I take the easy way and buy it. And since I love these tacos so much, I always buy more breaded lemon sole goujons than I need so I can put some in the freezer for the next time the laziness (or craving) hits.

So, when the fish is cooking in the oven, all you have to do is cut some vegetables (out of the suggestions below I find avocado, lettuce and spring onions most pertinent – although my supermarket was out of spring onions when I took the photos – the rest are nice if you have them to hand already but no need to pop to the supermarket to get them) and mix the spicy mayo, which literally takes minutes, and once the fish is cooked, you just assemble and tuck in.

Plus it’s ready before your takeaway would even arrive, which is quite important for us hangry people.

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Weeknight fish tacos, serves 2

4 soft corn or flour tortillas

6-8 store-bought lemon sole goujons

1 little gem

1 avocado

a handful of cherry tomatoes

1/4 cucumber

1/2 lime

spring onions

coriander

100 ml Hellmann’s mayo

2-3 tsp Gochujang paste (or if you prefer a smokier flavour; chipotle paste)

Pre-heat the oven to 180-200C. Line an ovenproof dish with parchment paper and place the fish on it. Place in the hot oven for approx 15 minutes until cooked through and crisp. 

Mix mayonnaise and Gochujang paste together in a bowl and set aside. 

Cut the vegetables into chunks. Slice the spring onions and chop the coriander. When the fish is ready, take it out of the oven and tear the goujons into chunks. Heat up the tortilla breads in the oven for 30 seconds and start the assembly. I prefer to start with some spicy mayo spread onto the tortilla, then fish, more mayo, vegetables and last the spring onions and coriander. Finish with a squeeze of lime and some salt and dig in. 

PS. Since I have a sensitive stomach I’ve only listed the vegetables I use myself, but Rosie’s fish tacos with cabbage looks just as scrummy!