Pork Belly Steamed Bao

Serves four | Preparation time: three hours | Cooking time: two hours

Ingredients
For the buns
  • Cake flour 550gPlus extra for dusting
  • Castor sugar 1 tbsp.
  • Instant yeast 5g
  • Sea salt 5g
  • Milk 150mlSlightly warm
  • Canola oil 1 tbspPlus extra for brushing
  • Rice vinegar 1 tsp.
  • Water 200 – 250ml
  • Baking powder 1 tsp
For the pork belly
  • Pork belly 1kgBone in
  • Fennel seeds 2 tbsp
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Soy sauce 1 cup
  • Rice vinegar 1 cupSlightly warm
  • Warwick First Lady Chardonnay 1 cuPlus extra for brushing
  • Good quality vegetable stock 2 cups
  • Lemon verbena 4 sprigs
  • Ginger 2, 8cm pieces
  • Garlic bulb 1, halved
  • Red onion 1Cut into quarters
  • Palm sugar 4 tbsp
  • Cabbage 2 cupsShredded
  • Sesame oil 2 tbsp
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Radish 6Thinly sliced
  • Bean sprouts 1 cup
  • Red chilli 2, finely sliced
  • Spring onion 2, thinly sliced
  • Pomegranate arils ½ cup
  • Nori sheets 2
Method
  1. Start by making the buns: place all the dry ingredients, except the baking powder, in a large mixing bowl. Stir the warm milk into the flour, followed by the canola oil and rice vinegar. Slowly add the water until the dough comes together easily, but is still slightly sticky.
  2. Tip onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic – this should take 10 – 15 minutes. Place in a clean bowl, covered by a piece of greased plastic wrap and a damp cloth, to double in size.
  3. Start the pork belly, by placing the meat in a baking tray, that fits it snugly. Score the skin with a sharp knife from side to side, at 2cm intervals. Rub the fennel seeds, salt and pepper all over the skin of the belly. Place under a hot grill, for 8 – 10 minutes, until crispy and golden.
  4. Mix the Warwick First Lady Chardonnay and the rest of the liquids together and carefully pour into the baking dish (the liquid should cover the meat of the belly, but not the skin). Tuck the lemon verbena, ginger, garlic and onion in next to the belly. Place the dish in a 160C oven and cook for 1 ½ – 2 hours, or until soft. Be sure to check up on the belly every now and then, topping up with liquid if necessary.
  5. Return to the boa dough: sprinkle the baking powder on a clean work surface. Knock the proven dough down and gently roll the dough over the baking powder and knead for a further 5 minutes. Shape into a long sausage, of about 3cm thick. Cut the sausage into 3cm pieces and roll into little balls, then stretch into ovals of about 4mm thick. Lightly brush with a little canola oil. Dip a chopstick, or the back of a thin spoon in some canola oil too, and place in the centre of the oval. Fold the dough in half and slide the chopstick out. Place on a little square of greaseproof paper on a baking tray. Repeat this process with all the dough balls. Cover with a damp tea towel and leave to double in size again (more or less one hour).
  6. Remove the pork belly from the oven and set aside, reserving the cooking liquid. Cut into 2cm by 4cm pieces.
  7. Place the palm sugar in the remainder of the cooking liquid and reduce over medium heat until sticky. Season with salt.
  8. Heat a pan over high heat and add a little of the sesame oil. Toss the cabbage through the oil, until slightly charred. Season with salt.
  9. Bring a pot of water up to the boil. Place a bamboo steamer over the boiling water (or a colander). Steam the buns for 8 -10 minutes, making sure there is 3cm spaces between them, or until puffy and light.
  10. Place a piece of pork belly in the buns, drizzle with sticky sauce. Arrange the filled buns on a large platter, scatter with the fresh garnishes and torn bits of nori. Enjoy family-style with an ice cold glass of Warwick First Lady Chardonnay.