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Author Notes: I've been having these long before I met bacon and brioche, and I am forever grateful for that. While there are dozens of sleek baos out there, the real deal is supposed to have an incredibly pillowy bun laced with a sweet aroma of milk. Needless to say, an healthy organic slab of full fat pork belly is the place to start, and a good rest overnight makes it that much more delicious. Just one more thing before we move on to the recipe; if the peanut butter and pork belly still seem a bit short of rendering a heart attack, I strongly recommend topping the whole with a crispy fried egg, sunny side up, of course. —Coco et Cocoa
For the steamed milk buns
- 300 grams all purpose flour
- 150 milliliters warm milk
- 50 grams granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon instant dry yeast
- 12 pieces 8 cm by 8 cm parchment paper
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the milk and sugar. Sprinkle the yeast on top and let it stand for 5 minutes, to bloom.
- Add all of the flour to the bowl and knead with the dough hook at medium speed for 7-8 minutes, or until very smooth and elastic. The dough will tempt you to add more water, but unless it really isn't coming together (in which case add only 1- 1 1/2 tablespoons more milk), otherwise please resist that urge.
- Fold the dough into a pretty ball and cover with a damp cloth somewhere shady and warm. Let it rise for about 2 hours, or until doubled in size.
- On a clean working surface, divide the dough into 6 equal portions. Roll each into a long football shape. With a rolling pin, gently roll from the center away from you to 2 cm away from one end. Repeat with the other end. This way, you get those pillowy "lips" on your buns.
- Place a slip of parchment on one half of the rolled dough. Fold the other "lip" over so it looks like a clam shape. Place it on another slip of parchment. Repeat with the remaining dough.
- Cover with a damp cloth and let it rise for another hour or so, just to let it relax a little.
- Preheat the steamer. Load the steamer basket with the baos and steam for 10 minutes, lifting the lid a few times in between to release pressure, until fluffy and chewy.
For the braised pork belly and other fixings
- 500 grams organic pork belly, cut into 2 cm-thick pieces
- 30 milliliters grape seed oil
- 60 grams light brown sugar
- 60 milliliters dark soy sauce, plus more for braising
- 60 milliliters rice wine
- 6 thick ginger slices
- 120 milliliters crunchy unsweetened, unsalted peanut butter
- 1/2 bunch cilantro, roughly chopped
- Heat the oil in a pan. Add the pork belly to brown on all sides and render some of the fat. Transfer the pork to a plate. Keep the grease in the pan.
- On medium heat, add the sugar to the pan and stir until darkly caramelized. Tip in the soy sauce and stir to break up any clumps. Let the mixture bubble into a thick caramel (watch for the slowing down of bubbles) before returning the pork to the pan to coat completely.
- Deglaze with the rice wine and add one part soy sauce to every 3 parts water until the pork is completely submerged. Throw in the ginger, cover, and simmer for 2 hours, or until the meat is very tender but still holding its shape.
- When ready to serve, fill steamed buns with one or two slabs of pork belly, a dollop of peanut butter, and chopped cilantro. Enjoy!
- This recipe was entered in the contest for The Recipe You're Most Proud Of
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Sandwich Recipe