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gua bao (taiwanese pork belly bao with pickled carrots and daikon)


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Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 120 minutes

Total: 150 minutes

Servings: 10


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Step 1

Heat a Dutch oven (I use a 4qt one) over medium heat and lightly brown both sides of the pork belly. Do it in 2 - 3 batches. Scoop out the oil rendered from the pork if you want to save it for other uses.

Step 2

Put all the meat back into the pot and then add sugar, soy sauce, dark soy sauce and Shoaxing wine, and let it boil for a few seconds before adding water.

Step 3

Add spices (if using) and scallion in the pot, cover and bring it to a boil.

Step 4

Turn the heat down to medium low to low, and maintain a gentle boil for 1.5 hours. Reposition and turn the meat 1 to 2 times so they can cooked evenly.

Step 5

After it's done cooking, turn off the heat and let it sit for another 30 minutes with the lid on. You can also let it sit overnight in the fridge once it cools completely.

Step 6

After 30 minutes (or before serving), turn the heat to medium or medium high and cook uncovered until the liquid becomes sticky and able to coat the meat. During cooking, reposition and turn the meat a few times to ensure even cooking.

Step 7

Peel and julienne carrots and daikon. You will get about 3 cups total between the julienned carrots and daikon.

Step 8

Place carrots and daikon in a big bowl and toss it with salt. Let it sit for 20 minutes.

Step 9

After 20 minutes, rinse and drain the carrots and daikon, and then add sugar, honey and rice vinegar. Toss until you can't feel the sugar with your hands.

Step 10

You can serve the pickles right away, but it will taste better if you let it sit for 30 minutes in room temperature before serving.

Step 11

Put the pickle in a glass container and store in the fridge for up to one week.

Step 12

Freeze the roasted peanuts for 15 minutes before processing. This is optional, but it will help prevent oil from coming out due to temperature increase from processing.

Step 13

Place the roasted peanuts in a blender, pulse until it becomes coarse powder. Scrape the blender a few times in between pulses.

Step 14

Pour the peanut powder into a small bowl and mix with powdered sugar. Taste and see if you want to add more sugar.

Step 15

Steam the bao buns and cover it with a kitchen towel to keep warm.

Step 16

Open the pocket of the bao bun and stuff with a small handful of cilantro, a piece of pork belly, some of the peanut sugar mix (and sweet chili sauce if desire), and some pickled carrots and daikon and enjoy!