Dan Dan Pulled Pork Bao

Spencer Lengsfield
by Spencer Lengsfield
4 Servings
1 hr 30 min

These bao are filled with the flavours of Dan Dan noodles - instead of crispy spiced pork mince and fresh noodles in a spicy sesame sauce, we have spiced pulled pork topped with a sauce made from peanut butter, sesame oil, Sichuan chilli oil, soy sauce, and vinegar, along with some smashed cucumber for some texture and some scallions. Chinese sesame paste is traditionally used but I wasn't able to find it - the peanut butter with a splash of sesame oil is a closer substitute than tahini. If you don’t like the numbing sensation of Sichuan chilli oil, just swap this out for regular crispy chilli oil!

Recipe details
  • 4  Servings
  • Prep time: 30 Minutes Cook time: 1 Hours Total time: 1 hr 30 min
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For the pork
  • 1.5 kg (3lb 5 oz) Boneless pork shoulder (pork butt)
  • 3 tsps Five spice
  • 2 tbsps Hoisin sauce (or oyster sauce with some extra brown sugar)
  • 1 tbsp Brown sugar
  • 2 tbsps Soy sauce
  • 2 tsps Garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp Ginger paste
  • ½ tbsp Shaoxing wine
  • ½ tbsp Rice vinegar
  • 350 ml (11 3/4 oz) Chicken stock
  • To finish - 1 tbsp brown sugar, 2 tbsp soy sauce, 2 tbsp hoisin sauce, 1 tsp five spice
For the sauce
  • 2 tbsps Peanut butter
  • 2 tbsps Soy sauce
  • ½ tbsp Sesame oil
  • 2 tbsps Sichuan chilli oil
  • 2 tbsps Water
  • 2 tbsps Rice vinegar
To serve
  • ½ Cucumber, middle scooped out
  • 2 tbsps Rice vinegar
  • ½ tbsp Soy sauce
  • 1 tsp Sesame oil
  • Sesame seeds
  • Scallions, sliced
  • 12 Steamed buns

Start by preparing your pork. Remove the skin, then slice into four evenly sized pieces.
In a small bowl, combine your five spice, hoisin, sugar, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, shaoxing wine, and rice vinegar. Rub all over the pork, then refrigerate for a couple of hours.
After it's had some time to marinate, heat a non-stick pan on a medium/high heat with a splash of oil. Once it's hot, brown all sides of your pork. You may have to do this in batches so you don't overcrowd the pan. Once all sides are golden brown, remove from the pan and deglaze with a splash of your stock.
This recipe uses a pressure cooker, so if you don't have one just follow the same steps but place in a 150℃ oven for 3-4 hours, or until falling apart. You may have to top up the liquid, so keep an eye on it. For the pressure cooker option, add your browned pork, stock, and deglazed pan juices to the pot. Set your cooker to high pressure for 60 minutes, then let the pressure release naturally for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare your cucumber. Slice in half lengthways then scoop out the middle and discard. Bash your remaining cucumber all over using a rolling pin, then roughly chop.
Add to a bowl along with your soy sauce, vinegar, sesame seeds, and sesame oil. Set aside, and drain the excess liquid when you're ready to serve.
For your sauce, whisk together your peanut butter, soy sauce, chilli oil, sesame oil, water, and rice vinegar. If you don't like the numbing sensation of Sichuan chillies, just use normal crispy chilli oil. You can add more or less water to reach your desired consistency, so add it slowly.
Once your pork is tender, remove it from the liquid and preheat your grill. Shred your pork with two forks, I like to keep mine in fairly big pieces but this is up to you. Spread the pork over a baking tray lined with foil.
Using a ladle or serving spoon, remove two spoonfuls of your liquid from the pressure cooker, and add to a small bowl. Whisk in the extra brown sugar, hoisin, five spice, and soy, and carefully pour this over the pork. Place under the grill for a few minutes until nicely browned and crispy.
To serve, assemble your buns with a good helping of pork, followed by a few pieces of smashed cucumber, a drizzle of your sauce, scallions, and some sesame seeds. Enjoy!
Spencer Lengsfield
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