GUA BAO (PORK BELLY BAO BUNS)
The Pork Belly:
1, 2 ½ – 3-pound pork belly slab
1 tablespoon Shaoxing rice wine
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon ginger, minced
2 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon ground white pepper
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon Chinese five spice powder
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons soy sauce
½ cup coarse sea salt
The Pickled Carrots, Cukes, and Red Onions:
¾ cup cider vinegar
½ cup water
¼ cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup very thin carrot slices
1 small red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1 cup very thin cucumber slices
10-12 bao buns
½ cup hoisin sauce
4 scallions, cut into 1” pieces
¼ cup cilantro leaves
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
Pat the pork belly dry with paper towels and place it skin-side down in a 9” x 13” pan. Pour the Shaoxing wine over the meaty side and rub it in with your fingers. Combine the garlic and ginger and spread evenly on top.
Combine the salt, white pepper, black pepper, Chinese five spice, and sugar in a small bowl. Rub this mixture into the meat on the top and sides. Flip the meat over to be skin-side-up in the pan and refrigerate for 24-48 hours, uncovered.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Poke small holes all over the top of the skin with a skewer or the tip of a very sharp knife. The holes should go through the skin, just to the top of the meat.
Combine the rice wine vinegar and soy sauce and spread it all over the skin, lightly pressing with your fingers so it can seep into the small holes. Cake the sea salt all over the top of the skin.
Bake for 1 ½ hours until crispy and most of the fat has rendered from the skin. Wipe the sea salt off the top of the skin and place under the broiler for 1-2 minutes until the skin is golden and crispy, careful to make sure it dosen’t burn. Let rest for 15-20 minutes.
To make the pickled carrots, onions and cucumbers, combine the vinegar, water, sugar and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Pour the hot liquid into a large jar and add the onion and cucumber slices to the jar and shake so that everything is covered in the liquid. If needed open the jar and press the veggies into the liquid with a fork. Shake occasionally to ensure the onions are all coated in the liquid. Marinade for 1-3 hours for best effect.
Cover the bao buns with a wet paper towel and microwave for 1 minute until they are soft and warm.
Slice the pork belly into ½” thick slices.
To serve, put about 2-3 teaspoons of hoisin in a bao bun, with a slice of the pork belly, a few of the pickled veggies, some sliced scallions, cilantro leaves, and a sprinkle of sesame seeds. Soooo Gooooood!!!!