Miso and Maple Pork Belly Bao Buns with Pickled Maple Cucumber

Pork / Mains / Snacks

Preparation Time:
Cooking Time:
18 portions
Metric Imperial


For the bao buns:

  • 3 ⅓ cups plain flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dried yeast
  • 2 tbsp pure maple syrup (preferably amber syrup for its rich taste)
  • 1 ⅘ cups whole milk
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil, plus extra for oiling your mixing bowl and brushing onto the buns
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder

For the pickled cucumber:

  • 1 cucumber, sliced
  • ⅔ cup pure maple syrup (preferably amber syrup for its rich taste)
  • ⅔ cup white wine vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 6 whole black peppercorns

For the pork belly:

  • 1 red chilli, sliced
  • 2 ½ tbsp ginger, grated
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3 ⅓ lbs pork belly
  • ½ cup pure maple syrup (preferably amber syrup for its rich taste)
  • 2 star anise
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • ½ cup white wine

For the salt and maple sugar mixture:

  • ½ cup salt
  • ½ cup maple sugar

To serve:

  • 2 green chillis, sliced
  • 2 spring onions, sliced
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • 2 handfuls of roasted peanuts, roughly chopped


To make the bao buns:

  1. Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl.
  2. Dissolve the yeast in 1 tbsp warm water, add it to the flour with the maple syrup, milk, sunflower oil, rice vinegar and 200ml water.
  3. Use your hands to mix into a dough, adding a little extra water if necessary to combine all the dry ingredients.
  4. Sprinkle the flour over your work surface, tip out the dough and knead for 10 minutes.
  5. Lightly oil a bowl, add the dough and cover with a damp cloth. Leave to rise for about 2 hours.
  6. Tip the dough out onto a clean work surface and punch it down.
  7. Flatten the dough with your hands, then sprinkle over the baking powder and knead for 5 more minutes.
  8. Roll out the dough into a long sausage shape, about 3cm thick, then cut into pieces that are about 3cm wide – you should have 18.
  9. In the palm of your hand, roll each piece of dough into a ball and leave to rest for 2–3 minutes.
  10. Use a rolling pin to roll each ball into an oval shape about 3–4mm thick.
  11. Rub the surface of the dough ovals with oil and brush a little oil over a chopstick.
  12. Place the oiled chopstick in the centre of each oval. Fold the dough over the chopstick, then slowly pull out the chopstick. The buns should now be semi-circles.
  13. Cut 18 squares of baking paper and put a bun on each.
  14. Transfer to a baking tray, cover with a clean tea towel and leave to prove in a warm place for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
  15. Heat a large steamer over medium-high heat. Steam the buns for 8 minutes until puffed up.

To make the pickled cucumber:

  1. Put the sliced cucumber, garlic and black peppercorns into a large jar or airtight container.
  2. In a pan, bring the maple syrup and white wine vinegar to a boil. Leave to cool at room temperature, then pour onto the cucumber, garlic and peppercorns.
  3. Seal your container and leave to pickle for at least 4 hours, but ideally overnight.

To cook the pork belly:

  1. Score skin of the pork belly with a sharp knife, or ask your butcher to do this for you.
  2. Evenly cover the pork with a mixture of 50/50 salt and maple sugar and leave to rest for 2 hours.
  3. Heat oven to 200°C.
  4. Rinse off any excess seasoning with cold water, place in a roasting tin and roast for 15–20 minutes until golden-brown.
  5. Turn oven down to 120°C and slow cook for 1 hour 30 minutes until completely tender. Use a thermometer to check the pork is at the correct temperature of 62.8°C.
  6. Remove pork from oven and leave to cool.
  7. Wrap pork tightly with cling film and leave overnight in the fridge.
  8. Mix the remaining ingredients for the pork belly in a small bowl.
  9. Cut the pork into 3cm chunks.
  10. Grill or barbecue the pork for 3–4 minutes, turning halfway and brushing over the sauce, until the sauce is thick and sticky and the pork is charred.

To serve:

  1. When you’ve steamed the bao buns and the pork is ready, gently split the bao buns in half and stuff with the pickled cucumbers and pork belly.
  2. Top with your garnishes and dig in!

Chef’s tip: If you don’t have time to make your own bao buns, shop-bought buns can work just as well! The pickled cucumber is the perfect garnish for all your favourite Asian dishes — if you have any left over, it will keep in the fridge for up to three weeks.

The Quebec Maple Syrup Producers are not in any way responsible for the identification or presence of allergens in recipes or for the classification of any recipe as vegetarian or vegan.

Pork Recipes

Mains Recipes

Snacks Recipes

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Discover more about using pure Canadian maple syrup to fuel exercise here.

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