Classic Pork BAO, by BAO Restaurant London

"This is the BAO that defines who we are. It is the BAO that is in our logo and the BAO that embodies all our values. It is our pursuit of perfection. The processes and techniques that go into it and the ways in which we have translated the traditional Taiwanese gua bao into our BAO makes it who we are.

At home in Taiwan, the gua bao is normally two to three times larger. At that size, it is all about filling your stomach – the opposite of kuchisabishii. A lot of people ask why we serve it smaller. Well, firstly it’s because we want diners to sample a range of dishes, not just one. But most importantly, we serve it this way to facilitate that perfect moment of solitude.

Our BAOs are the ideal 3–4 bites for the Lonely Man. The Classic Pork BAO is perfectly formed, with a clean 1 cm (½ inch) gap between the edge of the bun and the edge of the meat. It is filled with twelve-hour braised pork that yields no resistance, melting in your mouth with the cloud-like BAO, the flavour notes of the ferments and sweet peanut powder lingering on in your mouth.

In this recipe the pork is braised for 3 hours at a higher temperature but it still produces a great braise. The Fermented Mustard Greens are a crucial component of this BAO and you will need to prepare them at least 2 weeks in advance. If you don’t have the time or desire to ferment your own, however, you can buy them from any Asian supermarket. They tend to be vacuum-packed in a bag with their own juices and are a pleasing yellowish-green colour."

Recipe: BAO by Erchen Chang, Shing Tat Chung and Wai Ting Chung is published by Phaidon, £29.95 (Phaidon.com)

MORE: Read a Q&A with BAO co-founder Erchen Chang, or find the Daikon Bao recipe here.


For the soy-braised pork belly


For the fried mustard greens


To serve


The Soy-Braised Pork Belly

  1. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Add the pork cubes and blanch for 2–3 minutes to get rid of any impurities. Drain, then place in a flameproof clay pot or large saucepan.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients to the pot or pan and pour over enough water to just cover the ingredients. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer gently for 3 hours. There should just be small bubbles on the surface of the liquid. Halfway through cooking, flip the pork cubes to ensure they are evenly cooked.
  3. Transfer the pork to a plate and leave to cool. Strain the braising liquid, then bring to the boil and cook until it is a light, sticky consistency, reducing it by about half. When the pork has cooled slightly, chop it into cubes of about 1 cm (½ inch). Put the cubes into the reduced sauce, give it a good stir and remove from the heat.
  4. Warm the pork with the sauce over a medium heat for about 10 minutes before serving.
© Speciality Cooking Supplies Limited 2024

 Fried Mustard Greens

  1. Heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium-high heat. Add the doubanjiang (fermented chilli bean paste) and, when the oil starts to turn red, add the fermented mustard greens. Stir-fry for 5 minutes until super fragrant and wilted. Season the greens with a few drops of the vinegar.
© Speciality Cooking Supplies Limited 2024

 To Assemble

  1. While the pork is reheating and the greens are cooking, steam the gua BAOs.
  2. Open a BAO and line the bottom with 45g of the piping-hot, glistening pork, then top with 1 teaspoon of the fried mustard greens. Finish with 1 teaspoon of the chopped coriander and 1 tablespoon of the golden, sweet peanut powder. Repeat with the remaining BAOs and fillings.
  3. Hold a BAO lovingly in your hand. Open your mouth fully, like the BAO, and eat from the side
© Speciality Cooking Supplies Limited 2024


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