BBQ93/17: Pork Belly Steamed Buns

BBQ93/17 – Pork Belly Steamed Buns:

Many years ago I eat my first Gua Bao in Hong Kong and absolutely loved it so when I saw Bao at Netil Market back in 2013 (I think) I was lucky enough to eat one of their fabulous buns too. I kept waiting for the street food scene in Edinburgh to pick up, hoping someone would start selling them. Ninja buns appeared for a while which were really nice but they ventured off to a restaurant which made it harder to get some buns! For so long I have meant to make these myself but I didn’t really fancy making the buns as they looked hard! Ninja buns mentioned they bought theirs frozen from the Chinese supermarket and I kept meaning to buy some but never remembered to pick some up when I was in.

One of my favourite cooks this year was the Monster Pork Chops by Steven Raichlen:

BBQ52/17: Monster Pork Chops

I was reading through his website when I spotted a recipe for Pork Belly Steamed Buns it went straight onto my list!

The Prep:

I ordered 2KG of Pork Belly from Turner and George (£17.10) and removed the skin then slashed the fat layer. I then made the 54321 rub: Turbinado Sugar (Demerara), Sea Salt, Black Pepper, 5 Spice and Onion Powder. I put the rub in a spice shaker and applied it all over the pork belly.

Pork Belly Steamed Buns

Pork Belly Steamed Buns

The Cook:

I set the smoker up with half a bucket of leftover heat beads and a 4KG bag of heat beads then poured half a lit chimney of lumpwood on top. Once it all settled at 225F I placed the pork belly on with the fat side up. I added some Cherry and Pear wood chunks from Smokewood Shack.

Pork Belly Steamed Buns

The recipe says it should take 3 to 3.5 hours to hit 165F. Mine took about 4 hours so I took it out. The colour and the smell was fantastic, it was hard to resist just eating it!

Pork Belly Steamed Buns

Pork Belly Steamed Buns

I sliced it against the grain into 1/2 inch thick slices.

Pork Belly Steamed Buns

The pork was very juicy.

Pork Belly Steamed Buns

Earlier in the day I had made steamed bun dough (flour, sugar, yeast, milk, oil, rice vinegar and baking powder) and they were getting steamed when I took the pork out. These were quite hard work to make and I don’t think the yeast took as they didn’t rise much. I had trouble with my last pizza dough as well so I will bin that yeast! Recipe for the buns is here.

Pork Belly Steamed Buns

Each slice of pork was seasoned with salt and pepper on each side.

Pork Belly Steamed Buns

I fired up the grill with a full chimney of Oxford Charcoal Hardwood Blend. I have been cooking a lot with this lately and it’s probably my favourite charcoal, a truly wonderful product! The charcoal was poured into charcoal baskets in the centre of the grill and I placed my grill grates on then left them to heat up before placing the pork belly on.

Pork Belly Steamed Buns

I gave each slice 2 minutes per side turning it 90 degrees after a minute.

Pork Belly Steamed Buns

I love this photo, it was quite a dark day after plenty of rain but the colours are great.

Pork Belly Steamed Buns

I cooked the pork in batches so with the first lot off I put the second set on to cook.

Pork Belly Steamed Buns

The buns took about 10 minutes to steam. When ready I placed a slice of pork inside with a spoon of hoisin bbq sauce (hoisin sauce, rice wine, honey, soy sauce, sesame oil, coriander, ginger and spring onions) followed by somce sliced cucumber, spring onions, sesame seeds and coriander.

Time to Eat:

I just wanted to eat this rather than take a photo but I held back! I only took 2 photos but by the time I got back inside my wife had half eaten one bun!

Pork Belly Steamed Buns

Pork Belly Steamed Buns

This was a great dish, a real treat and everything I hoped it would be! The buns weren’t as good as they could have been, as I mentioned earlier I think the yeast failed so they didn’t rise as much. They were a fair bit of work whereas the pork was really easy so if I can get hold of some frozen buns I will get them in the freezer for next time! The buns aren’t white as I didn’t use bleached flour but this is the traditional colour I believe!

The pork tasted fantastic. The 54321 rub, the smoke from the cherry and pear plus the hoisin bbq sauce was a winning combination. We eat 3 buns each and could easily have carried on eating them! Great leftovers for lunch the next day and even my mother in law who could be described as a fussy eater enjoyed them! I will definitely be making these again!

Cook Equipment: Smoker then Grill
Cook Method: Low and Slow then sear
Charcoal: Heat Beads then Oxford Charcoal Hardwood Blend
Smoking Wood: Cherry and Pear
Cook temperature: 225F then 250C
Cook time: 4 hours then 4 minutes
Internal temperature: 75c
Notes: Try the buns again or buy some!

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