Sticky pork belly bao buns

Contains pork – recipe is for non-Muslims only

These soft Chinese bao buns are stuffed to bursting with spicy pork and topped with crushed chilli peanuts

  • Prep:40 mins
    Cook:2 hrs
  • More effort

Nutrition per serving

  • kcal 570
  • fat 22g
  • saturates 6g
  • carbs 66g
  • sugars 17g
  • fibre 3g
  • protein 26g
  • salt 1.4g


  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 800g piece boneless pork belly, cut into thick slices
  • 4 tbsp light muscovado sugar
  • 3 garlic cloves, sliced
  • thumb-sized piece ginger, sliced
  • 2 star anise
  • 100ml Shaosing rice wine
  • 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • large pinch of Chinese five-spice powder
  • 250g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 tbsp white caster sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp fast-action dried yeast
  • 50ml milk
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil, plus extra for greasing
  • handful roasted peanuts
  • 1 tsp togarashi spice mix (see tip below)
  • coriander leaves
  • cucumber batons
  • shredded spring onion



Togarashi is a Japanese seven-spice mix which includes ground chillies, sesame seeds, poppy seeds and citrus peel. You can buy it in Asian food shops or online from, or


  1. Heat oven to 160C/140C fan/gas 3. Heat the oil in a flameproof casserole dish over a medium-high heat. In batches, brown the pork belly well, then transfer to a plate. Tip the sugar into the dish and cook over a medium heat until starting to dissolve and caramelise, then quickly stir in the garlic, ginger and star anise, and cook for 1 min.

  2. Carefully pour in the rice wine and soy sauce – watch out, it will spatter – and simmer to dissolve the sugar. Stir the pork into the caramel to coat, then add 100ml water and the five-spice, and bring to a simmer. Put the lid on and cook in the oven for 1 hr 30 mins. Remove from the oven, uncover, put on a high heat to simmer and reduce the sauce until sticky. Can be prepared up to 2 days ahead and chilled. Reheat with a splash of water.

  3. To make the chilli peanuts, mash most of the peanuts using a pestle and mortar, then add the rest of the nuts and roughly crush for a chunky texture. Stir through the togarashi powder. Can be made 2 days ahead and stored in an airtight container.

  4. For the buns, tip the dry ingredients and a large pinch of salt into a food mixer fitted with a dough hook. Pour in the milk, oil and 100ml tepid water, and work the mixture for about 10 mins until smooth and elastic. Transfer to a greased bowl, cover with cling film and leave to double in size (for about 1 hr)

  5. Tip the dough onto a floured surface and roll into a sausage shape. Cut the sausage into 10 equal portions. Roll each portion into a bun, then use a rolling pin to roll each bun out into an oval. Lightly grease each one, then fold them over a greased chopstick or skewer and place on a lightly oiled baking tray to rest for 1 hr or until doubled in size. Remove the chopstick or skewer before steaming.

  6. Heat a steamer and steam the buns on circles of baking parchment in batches for about 10 mins until puffed up. Split the buns and stuff each one with a slice or two of the pork, drizzled with some of the sauce. Scatter over some coriander, cucumber and spring onions, then sprinkle with the crushed nuts and tuck in.

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