These soft and fluffy bao buns are the ideal companion for this sticky pork and sweet, finger-licking hoisin. As you’re resting the pork overnight, this is ideal for relaxed weekend cooking, and you can even make buns ahead of time for a helping hand. So good, you’ll keep going back for more!
¼ cup hoisin
1 cucumber, thinly sliced
¼ cup finely sliced spring onion
800g (1.76 lb) pork belly
¼ cup sea salt
¼ cup sugar
360g (12.7 oz) plain flour (all-purpose), plus extra for dusting
20g (0.7 oz) skim-milk powder
4g (0.14 oz)baking powder
5g (0.18 oz) instant dry yeast
35g (1.2 oz) white sugar
35g (1.2 oz) vegetable oil, plus extra for greasing the dough
200g (7 oz) warm water
14 squares of baking paper (about 10x10cm/4x4inches)
For the slow-roasted pork, combine the salt and sugar in a small bowl. Place the pork into a deep dish (there will be a lot of liquid later on, so don’t use a flat tray) and rub the salt and sugar mix all over. Cover and set aside in the refrigerator overnight.
To cook the pork, preheat oven to 100°C/200°F.
Remove the pork from the dish and rinse to remove excess brining liquid. Pat dry with paper towel and place in a roasting dish. Cover with foil and roast for 4 hours until meat is fork tender.
In the meantime, make the bao buns. Place flour, milk powder, baking powder, yeast and sugar in a large bowl. In a separate bowl mix the vegetable oil and water. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the liquids. Stir with a spoon and then use your hands to knead until the dough comes together. Empty out onto a work surface and knead for 5 minutes or until smooth, adding extra flour a tablespoon at a time if the dough sticks to the palm of your hand. Return the dough to the mixing bowl, cover and rest in a warm place for 90 minutes or until doubled in size.
Once risen, transfer the dough to a work surface and dust with flour. ‘Punch down’ the dough by kneading it for 5 to 10 minutes. The aim here is to remove as many air bubbles as possible. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough out to 1cm thick. Dip your fingers in vegetable oil and lightly spread the oil over the surface of the dough. Then use an 8cm diameter pastry cutter (or a plastic cup of the same diameter) to cut out rounds. Remove the excess dough. Fold rounds in half and flatten slightly with the rolling pin. Place on a square of baking paper and place directly into a large bamboo steamer or onto a tray. Repeat with remaining dough (excess dough can be re-rolled and used). Cover the folded rounds and set aside to prove for 30 minutes.
Fill a wok one-third full with water and place over high heat. When the water is boiling, place the bamboo steamer over the wok and steam buns for 12 minutes. Then turn off the heat (don’t lift the lid) and allow the buns to rest over the hot water for 5 minutes. Buns can be made up to a day in advance and steamed to re-heat before serving.
To finish the pork, take it out of the oven and remove the foil. Turn the oven up to 200°C/390°F. Place the pork back in the oven, uncovered, for 5-10 minutes until golden and a little crisp at the edges. Transfer to a cutting board and slice.
To serve, open up a bao bun and spread hoisin sauce on the bottom half. Top with pork and cucumber. Sprinkle with spring onion and serve.
– Overnight resting is ideal but you can leave it 4-5 hours in a pinch.