Char siu pork belly breakfast bao with egg and smoky tomato relish

  • Snack
  • medium
  • Makes 12 bao
  • 1 hour 30 minutes, plus overnight marinating time and 2 hours proving time

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This recipe takes inspiration from egg and bacon breakfast sandwiches. Spiced char siu pork meets scrambled egg and a piquant tomato relish inside fluffy steamed buns. Be warned: they’re addictive! Cooking on the barbecue gives the fillings a beautifully smoky flavour, but you can also use a griddle pan on the hob.

  • Steamed sandwich buns

  • 500g of plain flour, (not ‘strong’ bread flour)
  • 7g of dried yeast, mixed with 100g warm water to activate
  • 50g of milk
  • 3 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 120g of water
  • 1 tbsp of oil, plus extra for brushing
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Pork belly

  • 500g of pork belly, without rind, cut lengthways into three thick slices
  • 3 tbsp of char siu sauce
  • 2 tsp oyster sauce
  • Tomato sauce

  • 4 tomatoes
  • 6 spring onions, white parts only, greens reserved
  • 2 tsp light soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp of rice vinegar
  • Scrambled egg

  • 6 eggs
  • 1 knob of butter
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • To garnish

  • lettuce, shredded
  • coriander, chopped
  • chilli oil
1
For the best flavour, the pork belly needs a good long marinade. Combine the char siu and oyster sauces. Reserve some of the marinade in a little bowl for basting, then rub all over the pork belly. Cover and refrigerate overnight
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2
To make the steamed buns activate the yeast in 100ml of warm water. Add this to the rest of the ingredients and knead until the dough is smooth – a few minutes. Allow to rest in a warm place covered with a damp cloth for 2 hours, or until doubled in size
3
Roll the dough into a cylinder then divide into 12 pieces. Roll each piece into an oval, brush lightly with flavourless oil, and fold in half. Allow to rest in a warm place under a damp cloth for 30 minutes, or until 1.5 times the size
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4
Line a bamboo steamer with greaseproof paper and steam the bao for 8 minutes, making sure not to lift the lid during the first half of cooking time (you may need to do this in batches)
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5
Preheat a barbecue for indirect cooking. Lift the belly slices out of the marinade and cook for around 20 minutes, turning once, or until they reach an internal temperature of around 60°C
6
Move them over to direct heat and baste with a little of the reserved marinade, then cook for a few minutes each side, or until golden and beginning to char in places. Keep basting with extra marinade as they are cooking for a delicious sticky finish. Set aside to rest
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7
Rub the tomatoes and spring onions with a little neutral oil and grill over direct heat for a few minutes, until charred on all sides. Chop finely and combine with the soy sauce and rice vinegar
8
Crack the eggs into a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the eggs. Move them around gently with a wooden spoon over a low heat, letting them form natural waves as they move about. Don’t over-stir. When they look around 80% cooked, remove them from the heat and set aside
9
Now you have everything ready, it's time to assemble. Layer up the warm buns (if they have cooled after steaming, pop them back in the steamer for a few minutes until soft and warm) with some lettuce, egg, sliced pork and tomato sauce. Garnish with coriander, chilli oil and spring onion slices
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