I grew up eating this dish as my grandmother cooked it regularly. YUMS. So I finally decided I should try to make this since the kids love the mantou recipe, and the buns used for this dish are actually prepared in the exact same way as mantou, just that they are shaped differently.
Braised pork belly buns are also known as Kong Bak Pau / Kou Rou Bao (扣肉包). I used this recipe from All Recipies Asia.
Instead of rolling up mantou in the traditional rolls, these are rolled out into a long oblong and folded over itself. I used my mantou recipe and laid the buns over squares of cooking parchment and steamed them in my bamboo steamer. These would make the Kong Bak Bao.
A note on the pork selection for this recipe – this is traditionally done with pork belly. Now, I know it sounds ridiculously high in calories and cholesterol and I do admit my first thought was to replace it with a leaner cut of pork. However after some research online, I learned that the pork belly is essential for this recipe as the fats add irreplaceable flavour to the dish. The best bet was to use pork belly to cook and trim off the fats before consumption.
Braised Pork Belly recipe
- 500g pork belly, cut into 1cm thick slices (use leaner cut if desired)
- 3 tbsp dark soy sauce
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp sugar
- A pinch of salt
- A pinch of five spices powder (五香粉)
- 3 tbsp oil
- 1.5 cm knob ginger, smashed
- 7 cloves garlic
- 250 ml water
- 10 kong bak buns (as above)
- Marinate the pork belly slices with dark soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, salt and five spices powder for 1 hour.
- Stir fry the ginger and garlic til fragrant. Add the pork belly slices and the rest of the marinade. Stir to mix well. Cover the pot and allow it to cook for 5 minutes.
- Add water and mix well. Cover the pot with a lid and allow it to cook under low heat for 1 hour. Tuck the pork slices in between a bun, drizzle with some of the gravy and enjoy!
And here is the finished dish, I added a panda face on the buns for the kids using nori, with some cherry tomatoes. This photo features Z1’s box. Z2 and Z3 have the same decoration in the bento boxes.
The kids LOVED this recipe. We don’t eat the pork fat so I trim off the layers of fat before serving to the kids. Let me tell you how much they love this braised pork. Z1 and Z2 love the plain mantou, and they always pester me to make plain mantou for them. With this recipe, they actually kept eating the braised pork and did not finish the mantou! OK, so this recipe will go into our family favourites.