For this recipe I combined Chinese gua bao with Korean flavors. A steamed bun filled with tangy and mildly spicy kimchi and a slice of panfried pork belly dipped in a sweet, salty and spicy glaze made with gochujang.
I serve the gua bao with homemade fries as a Korean alternative to hamburger & fries and it’s oh so delicious! If you grill the pork belly on the barbecue, these sandwiches will probably be even tastier. Put the glaze on it afterwards, otherwise it will burn.
I used “Aaron and Claire’s” recipe for the glaze. Aaron uses this sauce for his Korean fried chicken sandwich . This sauce goes well with pretty much anything really.
You can buy gua bao at Asian grocery stores in the freezer department. They are available in small to large bun sizes. I use larger ones that weigh about 50 grams.
You can use the instructions on the packaging to prepare them. Most of the time it tells you to steam the buns.
Gua bao from the microwave
If you don’t have a steamer(basket). You can also prepare the buns in the microwave. Let them defrost at room temperature. Carefully separate them and place them on a microwave safe plate. Dampen a piece of kitchen paper and place over the buns. Warm the buns in the microwave for about 20 seconds. If the buns aren’t warm enough, put them back in the microwave for 10 seconds at a time until they’re done.
If you are not using the buns immediately after this, it is best to place them on a wire rack. Warming them makes them release moisture which can make the bottoms soggy. Carefully open the buns with your hands, as they can tear easily.
You can make kimchi yourself , but you can also find it ready-made at Asian grocery stores (in some countries at regular supermarkets) . Kimchi is often sold in small containers or in larger bags.
Gochujang and gochugaru are Korean pepper paste and pepper flakes. They are used together and separately in many Korean dishes. I use them regularly and both have a long shelf life. You keep gochujang in the fridge and gochugaru in your kitchen cupboard. As far as I know, there are no products with which you can satisfyingly replace them. Different spicy sauces and chili flakes have their own flavor profile and strength.
Corn syrup is a clear sweet syrup that is also widely used in Korean cuisine. Alternatively, you can use sugar, honey or maple syrup. I always have a bottle in my cupboard, because it keeps for a long time.
You can find gochujang, gochugaru and corn syrup at Asian grocery stores or online.
You can make the gochujang glaze well in advance, keep it in a covered bowl. You can panfry the sliced pork belly in advance and reheat before serving. Dip the pork belly into the glaze after reheating.
I would put the gua bao in the microwave just before serving, so that they are still warm and fluffy. If they are kept too long, they will dry out and tear more easily.
Use a hard roll, brioche bun or potato roll (NOT Martin’s) instead of the gua bao. Instead of the kimchi, use coleslaw or lettuce and some pickles. Buy a bag of fries or potato croquettes from the freezer. I really wouldn’t replace the gochujang glaze, but if you REALLY have to, you can buy a bottle of ready-made gochujang bbq sauce.
Instead of fries, you can also eat this pork belly gua bao with steamed rice.
- 4 slices of pork belly
- 4 large gua bao, defrosted
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced
- Kimchi to taste in bitesize pieces
- Flavorless cooking oil
- 1 tbs gochujang
- 2½ tbsp ketchup
- 1 tbs soy sauce
- 1 tbs gochugaru
- 1 garlic clove, crushed or finely chopped
- 4 tbs corn syrup
- 1½ tbsp sugar
- 1½ tbsp water
- 4 portions of fries
- Salt to taste
- 4 tbs mayonnaise, Kewpie
Put 1 tablespoon of gochujang , 2½ tablespoons of ketchup , 1 tablespoon of soy sauce , 1 tablespoon of gochugaru , 1 clove of crushed garlic , 4 tablespoons of corn syrup , 1½ tablespoons of sugar and 1½ tablespoons of water in a saucepan.
Stir together and bring to a boil over medium heat . Let the sugar dissolve and set aside.
Glazed pork belly
Fry the sliced pork belly in a little cooking oil in a frying pan over medium heat . Fry until cooked and nicely browned with a little of the fat rendered. Cut the strips in half so they fit into the gua bao on top of each other.
Then dip the pork belly into the glaze so both sides are covered.
Remove 4 gua bao from the freezer in time to defrost. This can take a couple of hours.
Warm the gua bao according to the packaging. This can usually be done in a steamer or in the microwave.
Gua bao from the microwave
Carefully separate the buns and place them on a microwave safe plate. Dampen a piece of kitchen paper and place over the buns. Warm them up in the microwave for about 20 seconds. If the buns aren’t warm enough, put them back in the microwave for 10 seconds at a time until they’re done.
If you are not using the buns immediately after this, it is best to place them on a wire rack. Warming them makes them release moisture which can make the bottoms soggy. Carefully open up the gua bao with your hands, as they can tear easily.
Gochujang glaze mayonnaise
To make a dip for the fries mix 1 tablespoon of gochujang glaze with 4 tablespoons of mayonnaise .
Pork belly gua bao with fries
To start I finish the fries in the deep fryer (which is the second fry for homemade fries), drain them on paper towel and season with salt.
Carefully open a gua bao. Start with the kimchi at the bottom to taste, 2 halves of pork belly covered in glaze on top and finish with finely chopped spring onion.
Divide the fries over 4 plates, add some of the gochujang mayonnaise and the remaining spring onions and finally add the pork belly gua bao.
You can buy gua bao at Asian grocery stores. You can find them in the freezer section and they are available in small and large sizes. I use larger ones for this recipe.
You can make kimchi yourself or buy it at an Asian grocery store or regular supermarket. Alternatively, you can use a lettuce, coleslaw, or pickles.
You can buy gochujang and gochugaru (Korean pepper paste and Korean pepper flakes) at the Asian grocery store or online.