Try these pork bao buns, then also check out our pork belly bao buns, pork dumplings and more Chinese recipes.


  • 500g piece pork belly, skin and excess fat removed
  • 100ml soy sauce
  • 100ml dry cider
  • star anise
  • a bunch coriander, leaves picked to serve
  • 6 tbsp kecap manis
  • 1/4 tsp Chinese five-spice, plus a pinch
  • 6 tbsp dry cider
  • 6 tbsp honey
  • 5g fast-action yeast
  • 330g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 2 tbsp milk powder
  • a pinch
 baking powder
  • 30g
 golden caster sugar
  • olive oil
  • 100ml cider vinegar
  • 75g golden caster sugar
  • 1 red apple, cored and thinly sliced


  • STEP 1

    Heat the oven to 160C/fan 140C/gas 3. Put the pork belly in a small baking dish, and mix the soy, cider, 200ml water and star anise in a jug. Pour over the meat, adding a little more water if you need to cover. Cover tightly with foil and cook for 3 hours. Leave to cool for 1 hour in the liquid, then lift out, discarding the marinade. At this stage you can leave to cool completely, wrap in clingflim and chill overnight or until you’re ready to glaze.

  • STEP 2

    For the buns, mix the yeast with 180ml warm water and leave to foam for a few minutes. Mix the flour, milk powder, baking powder, sugar and ½ tsp salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the dough hook attachment on a medium speed, pour in the yeast and water mixture and mix for 5 minutes until it forms a ball.

  • STEP 3

    Slowly drizzle in 35ml olive oil until well combined. Continue to mix on medium speed for 10 minutes until it looks very smooth.

  • STEP 4

    Put the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, cover with clingfilm and keep in a warm place to prove until it has at least doubled in size, about 1 hour.

  • STEP 5

    Knock the dough back down with your hands then cut into 6-8 balls, about 100g each. Form into balls and put onto a baking tray lined with baking paper and cover with oiled clingfilm while you shape the rest. (You can chill these overnight if you like.)

  • STEP 6

    To make the pickle, heat the vinegar and sugar with a pinch of Chinese 5 spice and salt until the sugar dissolves. Allow to cool, then add the apple. Cover and chill.

  • STEP 7

    Turn the oven up to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Mix the glaze ingredients, and simmer in a small pan until syrupy, stirring a few times. Pour a few tbsp of the glaze into a small dish and keep for serving as a sauce. Brush about half of what is left liberally over the pork, and transfer to a rack set over a tinfoil-lined roasting tray (this will catch any glaze drips and stop it burning onto the tray). Cook for 30 minutes until dark golden and caramelised, brushing with the remaining glaze half way through.

  • STEP 8

    Roll each dough ball out onto a very lightly floured worksurface into an oval shape, dip a chopstick into oil and fold the dough over it. Add a square of baking paper in the fold to stop it sticking together. Put on baking paper inside metal or bamboo steamer baskets (2 to a basket as they will rise a lot during cooking). Allow to prove again for 10 minutes before steaming.

  • STEP 9

    Steam the buns for 15-20 minutes, or until the buns have doubled in size, are soft and springy, and bounce back when you press them. Rotate the steamer baskets every 5 minutes if the bottom ones are cooking quicker than the top.

  • STEP 10

    To serve, reheat the sauce gently if it’s thickened too much to spoon into the buns. Slice the pork into thin strips, put into the buns with a spoon of the sauce, a few slices of pickled apple and coriander leaves.


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