Pork Belly on Chinese Steamed Buns are, yes I really mean it this time, the best sandwiches! The succulent pork belly meat and crispy skin on a fluffy white steamed bun dressed with savory Hoisin sauce and crunchy, and pickled cucumbers all melt into one amazing bite. Add a drizzle of Sriracha and you will be in heaven. I will be making these again and again for special occasions. They are just that good.
An important ingredient for this dish is to make the Chinese Bao buns fresh. The recipe I used made over 40 buns. I used 20 and froze the other half. They freeze well. The trick is to steam them a few minutes to refresh. Do not microwave them, they are just not the same. Another secret with this recipe is that both the pork belly and the buns can be made a day ahead of time, and easily reheated to serve fresh and warm. As always I used my favorite pork belly product from D’Artagnan. Click here to buy their amazing Berkshire pork online.
You can see how easy this is to do at home. Watch the video to learn how.
This is the last video of my Pork Belly Series, where I trim and cut a pork belly and create 4 wonderful and different recipes. Watch all the videos in that series:
Succulent and Crispy Pork Belly on Chinese Steamed Buns with Pickled Cucumbers and Hoisin Sauce
- 3-6 pounds pork belly with skin-on
- ¼ cup plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tsp black peppercorns
- 3 star anise
- 1-2 cups water
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 2 thick Kirby cucumbers cut into 1/8-inch-slices
- 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 cup hoisin sauce
- ½ cup thinly sliced scallions green and white parts
- Sriracha for serving
- 12 steamed Bao buns see recipe at www.homemadeitaliancooking.com
First brine the pork overnight. Mix ¼ cup sugar, peppercorns, star anise and ¼ cup salt in large ziplock bag or glass bowl. Add the pork belly, then cover with water and zip close. Chill overnight in the fridge.
Heat the oven to 400ºF. Discard the liquid from the bag and dry the pork belly thoroughly with paper towels. Rub 1 tablespoon baking powder over the skin. Score the skin in a diamond pattern and return to roasting pan. Place the pork belly skin side up on a wire rack in a baking pan. Place uncovered pan in the oven and cook for 1 hour, basting it with the rendered fat halfway through. Turn the oven down to 300 degrees and continue to bake another 2- 3 hours until the meat is tender and the meat registers at least 160 degrees. The fat should have mostly rendered out.
If the skin is not crispy enough at that point, remove the pan from the oven and pour off the fat. Turn the oven up to 450 degrees. Put the pork belly back in the oven and watch closely so it does not smoke or burn. The skin will blister and get crispy. Transfer the pork to a platter and allow to cool slightly.
When it’s cool enough to handle, wrap the pork in plastic wrap or aluminum foil and put it in the fridge until it’s thoroughly chilled and firm. (You can skip this step if you’re pressed for time, but the only way to get neat, nice-looking slices is to chill the belly thoroughly before slicing it.)
Combine the cucumbers with the remaining sugar and salt, and rice vinegar in a small mixing bowl and toss to coat. Let sit for 5 to 10 minutes. Use right away or refrigerate for up to 4 hours.
When you're ready to make the buns, cut the pork belly into 1/2-inch-slices about 2 inches long. Warm them in a pan over medium heat for a minute or two, until soft and heated through. Use the pork right away.
Open a warm steamed bun and spread about 2 teaspoons of hoisin sauce on the inside. Add 2 pieces of pork belly, then a couple slices of pickle. Add a scattering of scallion and a squirt of sriracha if you like. Repeat with the remaining buns, and eat!