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Pork Belly Bao Buns with Spicy Hoi Sin Sauce

Updated: Nov 16, 2018

So this is my signature dish - My Pork Belly Bao - the dish that made it all happen for me - the one that changed my life! 

Growing up in Darwin meant eating market style food regularly, so I wanted to show the judges who I was, by showing them something delicious, and also a bit of why I loved to cook!  Salty, Spicy and delicious - how could they refuse!'


5 spice

2 tsp fennel seeds

2 tsp Szechuan peppercorns

1 tsp cloves

3 star anise

1 cinnamon quill

Pork Belly

500g Pork Belly

1 tbsp sesame oil

2 tsp of your home made 5 spice powder

200 salt flakes

Bao Buns

125g warm water

2 tsp dry yeast

30g sugar

260 g lighthouse brand steamed bun flour

30g oil

1 tsp salt

Chili caramel

½ c raw sugar

½ c water

Juice of 1 lime, plus more to season

6 long red chillies chopped

2 birdseyes chillies chopped

5cm piece of ginger finely chopped

4 cloves of garlic chopped

1 stalk lemongrass finely chopped

1 tbsp fish sce

Hoi sin sauce

1/3 c dark brown sugar

3 tbsp spicy black bean sauce

2 tbsp soy sauce

6 pitted prunes

1 tsp sesame oil

1 tsp 5 spice powder

2tbsp dark soy sauce

1 tbsp rice wine vinegar

3 long red chillies chopped

Lime juice to taste

Green paw paw salad/pickle

¼ green paw paw shredded

Juice of 1 lime

1 tbsp fish sauce

4 cloves of garlic crushed

1 tbsp peanuts roasted

1 small tomato – no seeds chopped roughly

1 tbsp raw sugar

Garnish – banana leaf and coriander


1. Preheat oven to 230C.

2. For the Five Spice, heat a small frypan over high heat, add all ingredients and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Remove from the pan and allow to cool. Transfer to a food processor or spice grinder and blitz to a fine powder. Set aside.

3. For the Pork Belly, wash the pork skin with boiling water then dry off with paper towel. Rub sesame oil and rice wine vinegar into the pork skin. Use the tip of a knife to score lines across the pork belly skin, about 5mm apart. Rub the Five Spice into meat side of belly only. Wrap the pork belly in aluminium foil so that the skin is exposed. Cover the entire surface of the skin with a layer of salt flakes to form a salt crust. Place into the oven and cook for 40-45 minutes.

4. Remove pork from the oven and remove the salt crust. Increase oven temperature to 300C and turn to grill setting. Place the pork back into the oven on the middle rack and grill, without burning until the skin crackles and turns crisp, about 4-5 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to rest for at least 15 minutes.

5. Meanwhile, for the Bao Buns, combine warm water, yeast and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle hook attachment and allow to sit for 2 minutes. Add flour, olive oil and salt and mix on medium high speed for 2 minutes until a smooth dough forms. Remove from the mixer and transfer to a very lightly floured work surface. Knead until completely smooth, about 6 minutes. Place dough into a bowl lightly greased with oil. Cover the dough with cling film and place in a warm environment for at least 30 minutes to prove and double in size.

6. To finish the Bao Buns, divide the dough into 6 equal portions and roll into balls. Roll the balls out into discs about 3mm thick and use an 11.5cm cutter to trim into circles and set aside on a tray lined with baking paper.

7. Place a steamer over a wok of water and place onto high heat. Carefully fold the discs in half, placing a small strip of baking paper in the middle to prevent halves from sticking together. Place into the bamboo steamer and steam until fluffy, about 10-12 minutes.

8. For the Chilli Caramel, combine sugar and water in a medium frypan over high heat and cook until the sugar has dissolved and turned amber in colour. Add lime juice and stir to combine. Add chillies and remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Continue to cook until reduced to a sticky consistency. Remove from the heat, transfer to a serving jug and set aside until needed.

9. For the Hoisin Sauce, place all ingredients into a blender or Thermomix and blend until smooth. Adjust seasoning with lime juice if desired. Set aside until needed.

10. For the Green Paw Paw Salad, place all ingredients, except for the paw paw, into a mortar and pestle and pound until combined. Add the paw paw and gently pound briefly to bruise slightly and coat in the dressing. Set aside.

11. Meanwhile, heat the banana leaf over naked flame to release oils and trim to the size of the serving platter. Place the banana leaf onto the serving platter. 12. Smear each Bao Bun with some Hoisin. Divide Pork Belly and top with some Paw Paw salad. Finish with a sprig of fresh coriander. Serve the Chilli Caramel and extra Hoisin sauce in ramekins on the side.


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