Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sous Vide Pork Belly Bun (Kong Bah Bao)

I made up my mind to make this traditional Chinese dish after my successful attempt at cooking Beef Masala using the Sous Vide method. The traditional way of cooking this dish is not really that difficult but I would like to experiment with the water bath method to see the difference in the texture and taste compared to the traditional method.

After doing some research, I decided to sous vide the belly at 83°C for 12 hours with the same ingredient used in traditional braise method.

And the result? Cooking the belly for 12 hours broke down all the fat and it became a melt in the mouth experience. Another bonus that you get by using this modern cooking technique is that you get an instant sauce which is much less oily than what you will normally get with the traditional method. There was minimal shrinkage and hardly any waste, generally very good for the Gross Profit as the amount of liquids or marinade required is minimal.


1kg pork belly
80ml dark soy sauce
20ml Cooking Mirin
20ml Cooking Sake
2 whole cinnamon sticks
2 star anise
1 bulb of garlic crushed
1 tbsp Sugar


Heat the water bath to 83°C.

Rinse and dry the pork belly. Remove all the hairs with a razor and cut it into 4 blocks.

Stir the rest of the ingredients together to make the marinade.

Place the belly of pork into a clean large vacuum bag and add the marinade.

As my vacuum sealer is not the chamber type, sealing the bags with the liquid marinade is tricky. You have to be careful with following steps to avoid a mess in the kitchen.

Make a few folds to the bag containing the belly and braising liquid. Making sure there is minimum air inside the bag. Carefully and tightly, wrap the bag with kitchen food wrapper. Place the wrapped bag into another vacuum bag. Vacuum seal the second bag.

Cook the belly in the preheated water bath for 12 hours.

Chill the belly in ice water once cooked and refridgerate until needed.

To serve, remove the cooked belly from the bag and place it to one side, scrape all the jelly into a small saucepan.

Melt the jelly and pass it through a sieve back into a clean small saucepan and bring to the boil , reduce until it becomes a thick glossy and coating sauce.

It is much easier to handle the chilled and hardened belly. Cut the belly into slices, about one cm thick. Neatly arrange the sliced belly in a steamer or casserole with the thickened sauce.

Steam over high heat for 5 minutes. Serve immediately with steamed hot bun.


  1. It takes a lot of patience to make this ! And skill for that matter :D I like the look of that slices ! Forget the pau/bao , I'll have some of that with steamed rice , por favor ! lol

    1. Actually you do not need much patience to make this... Once the meat goes into the sous vide machine, you do not have to bother about it until 12 hours later.

      Yes, this goes well with steamed rice... You can also braise the pork with preserved mustard green (Mei Cai/Mui Choy) in the unlikelihood of any leftover. That's making me drool now... :)

  2. sous vide's always sounded too posh for me, and I can't afford a machine! but friend has a fancy one and he's just lent it to me for a week to try sth out, so I may just try this :) bookmarking too many things right now haha!


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