Gua Bao – Taiwanese Pork Belly Sliders
Gua Bao are a popular Taiwanese street food. Slider-sized handfuls of slowly braised pork belly, stuffed into steamed buns with red sugar, crushed peanuts and cilantro. These are flavourful and delicious little sandwiches that are sure to bring happiness wherever you bring them. Enjoy!
For the pork you will need:
- 2 tablespoons cooking oil
- 500g pork belly, skin on
- 3 tablespoons dark soy sauce
- 1 liter water
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 star anise
- 4 cloves
- ½ teaspoon Chinese 5-spice powder
- 1 ½ bulbs of garlic, (separated to cloves, but you don’t have to peel them)
for the rest:
- hoisin sauce
- Taiwanese red sugar, or jaggery
- 1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
- roasted peanuts, crushed
- fresh steamed bao (Chinese buns)*
Heat oil in a heavy pot or dutch oven on med high heat. Brown the pork belly on all sides. Add the soy sauce to both sides of the pork after its browned.
Immediately after, add 1 litre of water, 1 cinnamon stick, 1 star anise, 4 cloves, ½ teaspoon Chinese 5-spice powder and the cloves from 1 ½ bulbs of garlic. Bring to a boil, then turn down to simmer covered for about 1.5 hours or until tender.
When the pork is finished, carefully take out and slice into ½ inch pieces. Serve in the steamed buns and garnish with crushed peanuts, red sugar, hoisin and fresh cilantro.
Toppings for this Taiwanese sandwich are gonna be a little different than what you’re used to in a North American sandwich. I’m starting with some hoisin sauce, followed by some Taiwanese red sugar, or in this case, some jaggery. It’s a type of cane sugar that I got from the Indian market. Also I have some roasted crushed peanuts for texture and finally some fresh chopped cilantro. The cilantro is gonna cut the richness of the pork.
*You can find pre-made Chinese buns in your local Asian grocery. If not, you can do what I’ve done before and make them from Pillsbury biscuit dough. Just cut into rounds, fold over and steam for 15 minutes.
Pork belly is very rich and tender when it’s braised. Some people are put off by the fattiness of it. How about you? Are you put off by certain food textures or qualities?