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

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  • medium
  • Makes 12 bao
  • 1 hour 30 minutes
Not yet rated

This bao sandwich recipe sees the steamed buns packed with charred pork belly, scrambled egg and a smoky tomato relish – a delicious Chinese take on British egg and bacon sandwiches.

First published in 2019

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

To garnish


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
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
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
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)
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
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
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
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
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

Helen Graves is Head of Content at Great British Chefs. She's also the author of the cookbook LIVE FIRE: Seasonal Barbecue Recipes and Stories of Live Fire Traditions, Old and New, and the editor of Pit, an independent magazine with roots in live fire cooking.

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