Not too long ago I was reminiscing with coworkers about the treats we enjoyed growing up, and I couldn’t help but chuckle at the fact that they recalled chocolates like Snickers and Twix bars, while I remembered mung bean cakes. Way too funny how cultures are so different.
Making these Pork Belly Banh Bao made me think of this story mainly because sandwiches for me growing up were nicely packaged steamed buns filled with something savory or sweet…not the traditional ham and cheese. What I love about banh bao is you can fill it with whatever you like, make a big batch and take it with you on the go. Because you can’t simply make a recipe for one or two, you always end up with extras that are perfect to share or freeze to eat later.
It’s really about the simplest recipe you can make and a nice change from traditional lunch foods like soups, salads and sandwiches. Make sure you give it a try if you’re looking to brown bag it to work next time.
- 2 lbs pork belly, skim removed and sliced thin
- 3 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 4 tsp light brown sugar, packed
- 2 stalks green onions, chopped
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 4 1/2 cups self-rising flour, plus extra
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- In a bowl, mix together the pork belly, soy sauce, fish sauce, garlic powder, black pepper and brown sugar and marinade for 3 hours in the refrigerator.
- Spray a large pan with nonstick spray and heat on medium-high heat. Add enough pork to the pan to create a single layer without crowding. Cook on both sides until the meat is caramelized and golden brown. Transfer the meat to a plate and continue cooking the meat in batches until all the pork is prepared. Set aside.
- Prepare the bao dough by combining the sugar, flour and milk. Mix until combined, and set aside for five minutes.
- Meanwhile, fill a steamer with water and heat on high until boiling. Reduce the heat to medium.
- Divide the dough into 18 balls. Lightly flour each ball of dough and a rolling pin. Roll out each ball into a 5-inch round. Divide the pork meat evenly between the dough rounds and top with green onions. Pull the ends of the dough together to create a pouch and twist the top to seal. Place each filled bao on a square of parchment paper and transfer to the steamer pot to cook for 15 minutes. The size of the steamer pot will determine how many can fit at a time to steam; make sure to leave 2 inches of space between each bao. Continue steaming until all are cooked.