Sticky Pork Bao Buns

Delicious Sticky Pork Bao Buns with Quick Pickled Carrots and Quick Pickled Cucumbers. Perfect as a snack or a tasty meal. Recipe with step-by-step photos.

three sticky pork bao buns on white plate on wooden board

Steamed Buns

If you have been following me on my Instagram Stories, you may have noticed that I like to make homemade steamed buns for dinner … quite often!

When my children start to complain that they are eating too much rice or too many noodles, I know that it is time to start changing things up a bit, and bao buns can be a good alternative for many Asian dishes.

three sticky pork bao buns on white plate

Sticky Pork Bao Buns

I love to make Chinese Barbecue Pork (Char Siu Pork) when we have visitors, but also sometimes for a comforting mid-week meal.

And for my take on David Chang’s pork belly buns (of Momufuku fame), I like to simply stuff the bao buns with slices of char siu pork, accompanied with some quick pickled cucumbers and carrots, and garnished with spring onions (scallions) and coriander (cilantro).

It’s sort of a short cut on a traditional Steamed Pork Bun (char siu bao), but with fresher ingredients and fresher flavours.

If you are making all of the components from scratch on the same day, you will need to be quite organised, but your friends and family will definitely be in for a treat!

But if you have a Chinatown nearby with ready access to shop-bought steamed buns and char siu pork, these Sticky Pork Bao Buns can be prepared within minutes.

sticky pork bao buns garnished with quick pickled carrots and quick pickled cucumbers

How to Make Steamed Bao Buns

Most Asian grocers stock plain steamed bao buns in the freezer section, which means that you can be minutes away from a delicious meal at any time.

But if ready-made steamed buns are not available where you live, or you happen to love a spot of bread-making, I have an easy recipe for bao buns which you can make from scratch. The results are perfectly soft and fluffy bao buns – you might never buy them from the shops again!

Click here for my recipe for bao buns with step-by-step photos.

step-by-step photos for making steamed bao buns

How to Make Chinese Barbecue Pork (Char Siu Pork)

Like for the steamed buns, if you have close access to a Chinatown, you will probably also be able to buy char siu pork from a good Chinese takeaway.

But making your own char siu pork is actually quite easy, and whenever I make Chinese Barbecue Pork, I often make a double batch as the leftovers can be used in so many different ways. Any leftover char siu pork can be wrapped in foil and reheated in the oven.

Click here for my recipe for char siu pork with step-by-step photos.

step-by-step photos for making char siu pork

How to Make Quick Pickled Carrots

Asian cuisine is often about balancing flavours, namely sweet, salty and sour elements.

Pickled carrots are commonly used in Vietnamese cuisine to add a sour element and to balance any salty flavours. They also add a nice crunchy texture.

You will often find pickled carrots served in a Vietnamese Banh Mi, or even as a substantial garnish to Vietnamese Grilled Pork Chops.

A traditional pickling liquid requires at least overnight to work its magic, but when time is short, I like to make Quick Pickled Carrots. For this, I find a 2:1 ratio of vinegar to sugar just right for my tastes, but you can adjust the ratio to your own liking.

The carrots should be cut into thin matchsticks (or “julienned”), and this is easiest done using either a mandoline slicer or with a julienne peeler.

shredded carrots in white bowl

How to Make Quick Picked Cucumbers

Similar to the Quick Pickled Carrots, I also like to use a 2:1 ratio of vinegar to sugar, but you can adjust the quantities to your liking.

Quick Pickled Cucumbers add a nice crunch and sourness to the soft bao buns.

If you are really pushed for time, you could skip the pickling altogether – my children love fresh cucumbers and I serve a generous quantity for them to munch on alongside the bao buns.

sliced cucumbers in bowl with gold spoon

More Asian Recipes

If you are looking for more Asian recipes, you might also like:

Asian Braised Beef Short Ribs

Chinese Barbecue Pork (Char Siu Pork)

Pickled Chillies

Steamed Bao Buns

Print

Sticky Pork Bao Buns

Delicious Sticky Pork Bao Buns with Quick Pickled Carrots and Quick Pickled Cucumbers. Perfect as a snack or a tasty meal.

  • Author: Thanh | Eat, Little Bird
  • Prep Time: 30 mins
  • Cook Time: 15 mins
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 3 to 4
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: Chinese

Ingredients

For the Quick Pickled Cucumber

For the Quick Pickled Carrots

For the Spicy Hoisin Sauce

To Serve

  • 12 plain bao buns (ready-made or frozen, or see my recipe for Steamed Bao Buns)
  • 500 g (1 lb) Chinese barbecue pork or char siu pork (shop-bought, or see my recipe for Chinese Barbecue Pork)
  • spring onions (scallions), cut into short lengths
  • coriander (cilantro), cut into short lengths or finely chopped
  • Pickled Chillies

Instructions

For the Quick Pickled Cucumber

  1. Dissolve the sugar in the vinegar in a bowl.
  2. Finely slice the cucumber, either using a sharp knife or a mandoline slicer.
  3. Mix the cucumber through the pickling liquid.
  4. Set aside for at least 10 minutes.
  5. Just before serving, drain the pickling liquid and gently squeeze the cucumbers to release any excess liquid.

For the Quick Pickled Carrots

  1. Dissolve the sugar in the vinegar in a bowl.
  2. Julienne the carrots, either using a sharp knife, mandoline slicer or julienne peeler.
  3. Mix the carrots through the pickling liquid.
  4. Set aside for at least 10 minutes.
  5. Just before serving, drain the pickling liquid and gently squeeze the carrots to release any excess liquid.

For the Spicy Hoisin Sauce

  1. In a small saucepan, mix the hoisin sauce and Sriracha sauce together.
  2. Heat gently over medium heat until it has warmed through.
  3. Serve the sauce warm.

For the Steamed Bao Buns

  1. To make your own homemade Steamed Bao Buns, please see my recipe for bao buns with step-by-step photos.
  2. The bao buns need 10-12 minutes to steam, so I recommend steaming the bao buns (homemade or frozen) just before serving.
  3. Allow about 3 buns per person as a main meal.

For the Chinese Barbecue Pork

  1. The pork should be served warm, so reheat the pork as necessary. I generally wrap the work in foil and reheat in a hot oven.
  2. Thinly slice the pork, allowing about 3-5 slices per bun.

To Assemble the Spicy Pork Bao Buns

  1. Split open the freshly steamed bao buns.
  2. Spread both sides of the bun with the Spicy Hoisin Sauce.
  3. Layer some slices of Chinese Barbecue Pork inside the bun.
  4. Top with some slices of Quick Pickled Cucumbers and some Quick Pickled Carrots.
  5. Garnish with spring onions (scallions), coriander (cilantro) and Pickled Chillies (optional).
  6. Serve immediately.

Kitchen Notes

CONVERSIONS To convert from cups to grams, and vice-versa, please see this handy Conversion Chart for Basic Ingredients.

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