Steamed Pork Belly Buns with Hoisin Balsamic

TOTAL TIME: 5 hr 10 min
Prep: 1 hr
Inactive Prep: 1 hr
Cook: 3 hr 10 min
YIELD: 16 buns
LEVEL: Intermediate


  • 1 pound pork belly, skin on
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup tamarind paste
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3 Granny Smith apples, halved
  • 3/4 cup apple juice
    • 1/4 cup molasses
    • 2 tablespoons sweet Asian black bean paste
    • 2 tablespoons tamari
    • 4 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
    • 4 teaspoons aged balsamic vinegar
    • 1/2 teaspoon Chinese chili paste, such as Sriracha
    • 1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
      • 3/4 cup water
      • 1 1/2 teaspoons dry yeast
      • 1/4 cup canola oil, for greasing
      • 2 tablespoons raw sugar
      • 2 teaspoons baking powder
      • 1/2 teaspoon salt
      • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the surface
      • 1 cucumber, finely sliced
      • 1 green onion, finely chopped
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      To make the pork belly: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

      Score the pork skin lengthwise, every half inch. Brush with the canola oil, tamarind and honey. Place the apples cut-side down in a roasting pan and place the pork on top. Add the apple juice to the bottom of the pan and braise until the meat is fork-tender, about 3 hours.

      To make the hoisin balsamic sauce: To a bowl, add the molasses, black bean paste, tamari, sesame oil, balsamic, chili paste and pepper and mix well. Set aside.

      To make the dough: Into a large bowl, add the water and yeast and set aside for 1 minute. Whisk in 2 tablespoons of the canola oil. To a food processor add the sugar, baking powder and salt with the flour and pulse 2 to 3 times to combine. Pour the yeast mixture into the processor in a steady stream and continue mixing for about 20 seconds. If the dough doesn't come together, add warm water a tablespoon at a time and continue to mix for 50 to 60 seconds. Coat a ceramic bowl with 1 tablespoon of the canola oil. Place the dough in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap and a tea towel. Let rise until nearly doubled, about 1 hour.

      Lightly dust a work surface with flour and roll the dough into a log. Cut the dough into 16 even parts. Roll each part into a ball, and then use your fingertips to flatten each ball into a 3-inch disc. Brush some canola oil on one half of each disc and fold over into a semicircle. Place the buns on parchment paper and place in a bamboo steamer over boiling water. Steam until the buns are puffed, 6 to 8 minutes.

      To finish the buns: Remove the skin from the pork and roughly chop. Slice the pork belly against the grain. Brush the steamed buns with the apple juice-braising liquid. Add some pork belly, and dress with cucumbers, green onions and hoisin balsamic sauce.

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