Pork belly deserves a slow cook. In this recipe we combine it with a sweet hoisin sauce and stuff into soft, fluffy bao buns for a really special dish. There’s a second bonus recipe in this one: pickled red onion and cucumber. Both are incredibly easy to prepare make contrast the sweet hoisin pork belly perfectly. They make the perfect topping for your bao buns!
The first thing we need to tell you, is that we didn’t make the bao buns. If you fancy making your own, there’s some really good recipes out there (such as this one by Jeremy Pang). Instead, we opted for picking ours up from the local Chinese supermarket. You’ll most likely find them in the frozen section. It’s usually just a case of a gentle steam or microwave to prepare them.
The other ingredients are very accessible. All you need is some pork belly slices, which are available in most supermarkets. You can buy a full cut of pork belly and slice it up yourself, but make sure to carefully remove the skin first. Then it’s just a case of combining everything in the slow cooker and cooking on high for 3 hours or low for 6 hours.
After the slow cook you can use the leftover sauce to pour back on top of your prepared bao buns. Or you could transfer the sauce to the hob and thicken over a high heat before stirring the pork belly back in. Either way, prepare your bao buns and load them up with the pork and toppings of your choice! We use our homemade pickled red onion and cucumber and sesame seeds.
Pickled red onion and cucumber
The bonus recipe below is pickled red onion and cucumber. It’s incredibly easy to make and is something that can be used in so many ways. It’s just a case of making a simple brine by combining water, white wine vinegar, sugar and salt on the hob. Then you just need to pour into sealable heat-resistant containers. Be careful to let the brine cool before sealing. The pickles will be ready to eat within 30 minutes, but will be better after a few hours – perfect to make once the slow cooker is on. Once made, they’ll last for a couple of weeks in the fridge. For the full instructions check out the recipe card below.
Pork Belly Bao Buns
- Slow Cooker
- 300 g Pork belly slices
- 200 g Hoisin sauce
- 2 cloves Garlic Minced
- 2 tbsp Honey
- 8 g Ginger Minced
- 2-4 Bao buns
Optional Homemade Pickles
- 1 midi Cucumber Very thinly sliced
- 1 Red onion Very thinly sliced
- 150 ml White wine vinegar
- 150 ml Water
- 3 tbsp Sugar
- 1 pinch Salt
- Aromatics of your choice such as dill and black peppercorns. Optional
- Cut the pork belly slices into equal sized chunks.
- In the slow cooker combine the sliced pork belly with hoisin sauce, honey, garlic and ginger. Stir well.
- Cook for 3 hours on high or 6 hours on low.
- Ahead of time prepare the bao buns according to their instructions. Stuff the cooked pork belly into the bao buns along with any other toppings of your choice.
Optional homemade pickles
- In a pan combine water, vinegar, salt and sugar to make a brine. Stir well.
- Bring to a gentle simmer for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Let the mixture cool slightly for a few minutes.
- Thinly and evenly slice mini cucumber and red onion. We recommend using a mandolin.
- Place the cucumber and red onion in a sealable heat-resistant container. Add aromatics such as dill and black peppercorns. Pour over the brine, leaving a little space at the top. Let the brine cool before sealing the lid.
- The pickles will be ready to eat after 30 mins, but even better after a few hours.
Nutrition calculations only account for the ingredients stated in the slow cooker recipe. Serving suggestions such as rice and potatoes are not included. Remember to account for the nutritional values of anything you choose to accompany the recipe with.
Why not try?
You can also check out our YouTube page for all of our video recipes, including some longer form follow-along recipe videos.