Veggie gua bao

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The finished product!

The following things will go into and/or constitute the sandwich:

  • Steamed buns
  • Seasoned veggie pork belly
  • Cilantro
  • Pickled mustard greens
  • Peanuts and sugar mixed together in blender to a course grind [½ cup roasted, unsalted peanuts & 1TB rock, brown, or raw sugar]

Spread pickled mustard greens inside each steamed bun and set a piece of pork belly on top of mustard greens. Top pork belly with a pinch of the chopped cilantro and a sprinkle of the peanut powder. Serve immediately.

We typically buy pickled mustard greens which are more or less like a relish. In a pinch, you can do a "quick pickle" by boiling mustard greens (or chard, or bok choy) w/ 2:1 water:vinegar plus some sugar.

Steamed buns[edit]

There are a variety of recipes online but they all typically involve several periods of rising that will ultimately add up to 2-3 hours. Plan ahead!

  • I've typically had very good luck with this recipe: BBC recipe
  • This recipe looks great but is a little confusing because it calls for "cornflour (cornstarch)". Corn flour is the commonwealth term for corn starch.

Seasoned veggie pork belly[edit]

Pictured is the version of veggie pork belly with pepper. We now always use the non-peppered version.

Start with veggie pork belly which we always buy. We usually buy veggie pork belly made by Verisoy in Taiwan as pictured. In Seattle we buy these at the Viet-Wah supermarket near 12th and Jackson. There are versions with black pepper and without. We prefer the version without black pepper. It keeps indefinitely frozen so stock up!

The recipe that you need to follow is essentially the same the braised pork belly technique hong shao' / red-braised chinese cooking technique. There's a different recipe on this page but User:Willscott prefers the recipe on the braised pork belly page. Scallions, as used there, are a good aromatic addition.

  • Take veggie pork belly and split into either 4 or 6 pieces. Sear until lightly browned on both sides. Remember that veggie pork belly has almost not fat so please use lots of oil, butter, or mayonnaise. Set aside.
  • Make the sauce is the same pot you used to sear the pork belly (conserve the fat) by doing the following:
    • Make sure there's at least 1/4 cup oil in the pot / skillet.
    • Add garlic and ginger and fry until fragrant;
    • add star anise and chili;
    • add sugar and wait until it is melted and bubbling
    • Return the pork belly
    • add rice wine to deglaze caramel onto the pork. the liquid will evaporate off quickly, and caramel will harden on the pork from the shock.
    • add five spice, dark and light soy sauce, and water. bring to boil
  • simmer on low for 1-2h

For 1lb of pork belly (i.e., 2 packs of Verisoy), a good set of ratios to start with might be:

    • 2 medium cloves garlic, crushed
    • 2 (1/8th-inch) slices fresh ginger (unpeeled)
    • 1 star anise pod (optional)
    • 1 small fresh red chili, such as Thai chili (optional)
    • 2 tablespoons rock, brown or raw sugar
    • 1/4 cup Asian rice wine
    • 1/2 teaspoon five spice powder (see note)
    • 1/4 cup dark soy sauce
    • 1/4 cup light soy sauce
    • 4 cups water
    • Salt and MSG to taste


Inspiration and adaptation: