Taiwanese Pork Belly Buns (Gua Bao)

Gua Bao – You can’t walk through the streets in Taipei without coming across a night market, and you can’t visit a night market without finding more than one vendor selling Gua Bao. There are five components that make up a true Taiwanese Gua Bao: Soft steamed bun, tender braised pork, fresh cilantro, pickled mustard greens, and sweet powdered peanuts. Lovingly called the hamburger of Taiwan, it’s a chorus of salty, pungent, sweet, and fresh tastes all blanketed in a pillow-y soft bun. The prep work is fairly minimal, although braising the pork to tender takes a bit of time. The soft bao buns can be purchased frozen at your local Asian market, ordered online, or made fresh.

Taiwanese Gua Bao pork belly buns

Gua Bao – Taiwanese Pork Belly Buns

This complex combination of contrasting flavors is not difficult to make, especially if you use ready to go, frozen bao buns. These are a perfect introduction to why street foods are so popular not only in Taiwan, but throughout China as well. Other than the last minute fresh garnishes, everything can be made well in advance. Guo Bao makes for a great snack while watching sporting events, a wonderful addition to a buffet, or pretty much any excuse you can come up with for having them…they're that good.
5 from 2 votes
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Course: Appetizer, Brunch, Lunch, Snack
Cuisine: Chinese, Southern China, Taiwan
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
Servings: 8 buns
Author: My Hungry Traveler


  • Large skillet with cover
  • Wok or large pot with steamer.
  • Stand Mixer with dough hook attachment, if making dough by hand
  • Colander


Homemade Bao Bun Dough

  • 2 cup All-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup Whole milk
  • 2 tsp Instant yeast
  • 1 pinch Salt
  • 1 tbsp Sugar
  • 1 tbsp Vegetable oil

Braised Pork Filling

  • 2 lb Pork belly slab (can substitute pork shoulder)
  • 2 tbsp Vegetable oil
  • 4 cloves Garlic, crushed
  • 3 inch Ginger root, peeled and slice crossways into coins
  • 3 tbsp Brown sugar
  • 1 Star anise
  • 4 tbsp Dark soy sauce
  • ¼ cup Light soy sauce
  • ¼ cup Chinese Shaoxing cooking wine
  • 2 stalk Scallions, cut into 3-inch pieces
  • ¼ tsp White pepper
  • 2 whole Dried red pepper


  • ¼ cup Chinese pickled mustard greens, chopped
  • 1 cup Roasted peanuts, chopped
  • 1 tbsp Granulated sugar
  • 8 sprigs Fresh cilantro


  • Make Braised Pork – Cut pork into long 2-inch slabs. Bring enough water to cover pork. Boil for 2 minutes and drain in a colander. Pat dry pork and set on a plate. Wipe out bottom of same skillet and and set over medium-high heat. Heat vegetable oil and fry pork slabs on all sides to brown, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer back to plate.
    Fry garlic and ginger about 45 seconds. Add star anise, 1 chili pepper, white pepper, and brown sugar. Cook, stirring, about 2 minutes to melt sugar. Add in rice wine and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar, about 2 minutes more. Add light and dark soy sauces, and scallions.
    Place pork slices back in skillet and cover with water by ½-inch, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover skillet, and cook until pork is very tender, about 1 hour.
  • Make Dough – In a stand mixer with dough hook, mix all dry dough ingredients for 30 seconds. Add wet liquids and knead 9-12 minutes on medium low to get a smooth and soft dough. Shape into a large ball in the mixer bowl, cover with a moistened kitchen towel and leave on counter for an hour to proof and increase in size by 50%. Transfer to a lightly floured work surface and knead again to get smooth surface again. Divide into equal sized portions. Knead each portion for a minute each. Flatten each bun by hand and lightly brush top with oil. Fold in half to make a clam shell.
  • Steam Buns – Bring a large pot or wok with a steamer insert to a boil. Place buns into the steamer, cover, and heat through for 2-3minutes. Turn heat off for 15 minutes. Bring back to a boil and then steam for another 10 minutes. Keep covered until ready to use.
  • Prepare Toppings – Combine nuts and white sugar in a food processor. Pulse to create a coarse powder, about 1 minute. Rinse and finely chop mustard greens. Separate cilantro stems.
  • Assemble and Serve – When pork has cooked, remove and slice slabs into ½-inch slices. Take a steamed bun and fill it with chopped mustard greens, pork slices, and sprinkle with peanut powder. Lay a cilantro sprig on top and serve hot with sriracha chili sauce on the side.


Calories: 927kcal | Carbohydrates: 39g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 76g | Saturated Fat: 25g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 13g | Monounsaturated Fat: 34g | Trans Fat: 0.03g | Cholesterol: 84mg | Sodium: 1046mg | Potassium: 517mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 303IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 70mg | Iron: 3mg

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