Amazing Gua bao recipe – Easy and super delicious

There is so much amazing food in the world, every cuisine has its special thing to bring to the literal table. I have an affinity for food from Asia, as you’ve probably noticed if you come here regularly. This one is a total doozy. This is my recipe for gua bao.

Gua boa is an amazing Chinese dumpling. It’s made from a disc of dough that’s folded in half and then steamed. After steaming it’s filled with various delicious meats, pickled and fresh vegetables, sauces, ground nuts, or seeds.

I decided I would make three variations of the buns, to serve every need. The traditional gua bao is a version made with sourdough discard for extra flavor and a gluten-free version for those people who cannot otherwise enjoy the bready goodness that is a dumpling.

If you are just here for the recipe, you can press the button underneath to be automagically transported to the recipe:

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Traditional Gua Bao

Vitals

Total weight742 grams
Hydration49.4%
Yield8 gua bao

The dough

The traditional gua bao dough is made using all-purpose flour and cornstarch for a superior fluffy texture. The dough is also enriched with sugar and oil. It’s leavened using both instant yeast and baking powder.

These are probably the fluffiest gua bao you will ever try.

WeightIngredientBaker's Percentage
300gall-purpose flour70.6%
125gcorn starch29.4%
25gsugar5.9%
7ginstant yeast1.6%
10gbaking powder2.4%
210gwater49.4%
60goil14.1%
5gsalt1.2%

If you want to play around with the formula, change quantity or ingredients you can do so here in my Bread Calculator.

Sourdough Discard Gua Bao

Vitals

Total weight742 grams
Prefermented flour23.5%
Hydration49.4%
Yield8 gua bao

The Dough

The dough for these discard gua bao as sourdough starter added. Not to leaven the dough, but to bring extra taste. While the proof doesn’t make the dough rise from the starter, it has enough time to stop being sour and just bring an amazing pre-fermented taste to your bao.

If you’ve ever tried my discard brownie you know what magic ingredient dormant sourdough starter can be.

WeightIngredientBaker's Percentage
200gall-purpose flour61.5%
125gcorn starch38.5%
25gsugar7.7%
7ginstant yeast2.2%
10gbaking powder3.1%
110gwater33.8%
60goil18.5%
5gsalt1.5%
200gsourdough starter (100% hydration)61.5%

If you want to play around with the formula, change quantity or ingredients you can do so here in my Bread Calculator.

gua bao just before getting steamed

Gluten Free Gua Bao

Vitals

Total weight742 grams
Hydration49.4%
Yield8 gua bao

The Dough

I’ve tried my best to make this gluten-free version of gua bao to be as fluffy and delicious as possible. It uses four different gluten-free flours that each impart their properties that would otherwise easily have been achieved if you were using regular wheat flour.

WeightIngredientBaker's Percentage
170gcorn starch40%
85gpotato starch20%
85grice flour20%
85gglutinous rice flour20%
25gsugar5.9%
7ginstant yeast1.6%
10gbaking powder2.4%
210gwater49.4%
60goil14.1%
5gsalt1.2%

If you want to play around with the formula, change quantity or ingredients you can do so here in my Bread Calculator.

gua bao buns rising on a pan

The meat and fillings in this gua bao recipe

A traditional gua bao has a steamed or crispy pork belly as the filling. That is super delicious, but it takes quite a while to prepare, so I’ve opted for a lean cut of pork. The pork butt.

It gets marinated in the most insane combination of ingredients and imparts the pork with amazing flavor.

the three different gua bao in this recipe: traditional, sourdough discard and gluten free

For the rest of the fillings, I am using pickled cucumbers and carrots. Fresh cilantro and chilies. A dollop of hoisin sauce and a wonderful sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds.

I tell you, it’s a superior combination of ingredients.

The conclusion of this gua bao recipe

Traditional

The traditional gua bao is excellent. The huge and ultra fluffy bun works as a way to hold onto the fillings so that they don’t drop to the floor. The taste of the bun itself is pretty nondescript, but the texture is above and beyond.

Sourdough discard

The sourdough discard gua bao is simply amazing. It’s just as fluffy as the traditional ones, but on top of that, the bun itself has a very well-developed taste. It’s like how a sourdough pizza stands out among regular yeasted pizza.

Gluten-free

The gluten-free gua bao is not as fluffy as the other two, but it’s certainly alright. The taste of the bun itself is pretty anonymous, but that’s why you make those flavorful fillings.

To me, the clear winner is the sourdough bao. I love it when the bread brings something else than just texture to the table.

That being said, I’d eat both of the other two any day.

a feast of dumplings. gua bow with all the delicious fillings

Please share this gua bao recipe on social media

This is my recipe for gua bao. If you like the recipe please consider sharing it with like-minded food lovers on social media.

If you make it and post it on Instagram, please tag me as @foodgeek.dk so I can see it. That would make me very happy.

Ad links! Links for equipment and ingredients in this recipe are affiliate links, which means I will get a commission if you purchase the product!

Gua Bao

Course: Brunch, Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: bao, bao buns, dumplings, gua boa
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 12 minutes
Proofing: 1 hour
Servings: 8 dumplings
Calories: 483kcal
Author: Sune Trudslev
Nutrition Facts
Gua Bao
Amount Per Serving (1 traditional gua bao)
Calories 483 Calories from Fat 153
% Daily Value*
Fat 17g26%
Saturated Fat 2g13%
Polyunsaturated Fat 5g
Monounsaturated Fat 9g
Sodium 712mg31%
Carbohydrates 64g21%
Fiber 3g13%
Sugar 16g18%
Protein 18g36%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Gua bao is a fantastic, fluffy dumpling served with excellent marinated pork and fresh and pickled vegetables, hoisin, and toasted sesame seeds.
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Ingredients

Picked stuff

  • 1 dl sugar
  • 1 dl vinegar
  • ½ cucumber
  • 2 carrots, julienned

Marinade

  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp neutral cooking oil
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 3 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 3 tbsp honey, liquid
  • 1 tsp chinese five spice
  • 2 tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 2.5 cm ginger, finely grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed

Traditional Bao Dough

  • 300 g all-purpose flour
  • 125 g cornstarch
  • 25 g sugar
  • 7 g instant yeast
  • 10 g baking powder
  • 5 g salt
  • 210 g water, tepid
  • 60 ml neutral cooking oil

Sourdough Bao Dough

  • 200 g all-purpose flour
  • 125 g cornstarch
  • 25 g sugar
  • 7 g instant yeast
  • 10 g baking powder
  • 5 g salt
  • 200 g sourdough starter
  • 110 g water, tepid
  • 60 ml neutral cooking oil

Gluten free Bao Dough

  • 170 g cornstarch
  • 85 g potato starch
  • 85 g rice flour
  • 85 g glutinous rice flour
  • 25 g sugar
  • 7 g instant yeast
  • 10 g baking powder
  • 5 g salt
  • 210 g water, tepid
  • 60 ml neutral cooking oil

Fillings

  • 500 g pork, cubed pork butt or boston butt
  • 2 chilies, fresh
  • 1 handful coriander / cilantro
  • 2 spring onions / scallions
  • 3 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
  • 3 tbsp hoisin sauce

Instructions

Pickle cucumbers & carrots

  • In a microwave-safe container combine sugar and vinegar. Microwave it on full until it boils.
    1 dl sugar, 1 dl vinegar
  • Mix it until all of the sugar is dissolved. Add a pinch of salt.
  • Slice the cucumber thinly and julienne the carrots.
    ½ cucumber, 2 carrots, julienned
  • Then grab two mason jars, and add half of the pickling liquid to each.
  • Then add the julienned carrots to one jar and the cucumber slices to the other jar.
  • Close the jars and put them in the fridge until you need them. They’re best after 24 hours, but give them at least one hour.

Marinade the meat

  • Cube the meat to bite-sized pieces.
  • Add all the ingredients for the marinade to a small bowl. Mix to combine.
    2 tbsp soy sauce, 2 tbsp neutral cooking oil, 1 tsp toasted sesame oil, 1 tbsp oyster sauce, 3 tbsp hoisin sauce, 3 tbsp honey, liquid, 1 tsp chinese five spice, 2 tbsp dark brown sugar, 2.5 cm ginger, finely grated, 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • Put the meat in a zip lock bag. Pour the marinade over and massage the pork in the bag until the marinade covers all the meat.
    500 g pork, cubed
  • Put the bag in the fridge for at least an hour, but 24 hours is better.

Make the dough

  • Choose your bao version: traditional, sourdough discard or gluten free.
  • To a medium bowl, add all of the dry ingredients. Mix them until they are well distributed.
    300 g all-purpose flour, 125 g cornstarch, 25 g sugar, 7 g instant yeast, 10 g baking powder, 5 g salt, 200 g all-purpose flour, 125 g cornstarch, 25 g sugar, 7 g instant yeast, 10 g baking powder, 5 g salt, 170 g cornstarch, 85 g potato starch, 85 g rice flour, 85 g glutinous rice flour, 25 g sugar, 7 g instant yeast, 10 g baking powder, 5 g salt
  • Then add all of the wet ingredients.
    210 g water, tepid, 60 ml neutral cooking oil, 110 g water, tepid, 60 ml neutral cooking oil, 200 g sourdough starter, 210 g water, tepid, 60 ml neutral cooking oil
  • Mix until the dough comes together. Then move the dough to the kitchen counter.
  • Traditional/sourdough: Knead the dough until it comes together into a supple, tacky, but not sticky dough.
  • Gluten-free: Knead until all of the flour has been hydrated.
  • Move the dough to a proofing container and let it grow to double size.

Prepare fillings

  • Toast sesame seeds on a warm pan until they are golden and fragrant. Add to a small bowl to cool off.
    3 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
  • Cut two scallions on the bias and put them in a small bowl.
    2 spring onions / scallions
  • Grab a good handful of coriander leaves or cilantro and put them in a small bowl.
    1 handful coriander / cilantro
  • Cut two chilies finely and add them to a small bowl.
    2 chilies, fresh
  • Put hoisin sauce in a small bowl.
    3 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • Heat a large skillet to medium-high. Pour the entire marinating bag out onto the pan and fry the meat until it's wonderfully caramelized and cooked all the way through.
  • Put the fried meat aside until you assemble the gua bao. You can leave it on low heat on the stove to serve it warm.

Shape the buns

  • Shape the dough into a ball. Divide the ball into eight equally sized pieces.
  • Then shape each piece into a ball (Gluten-free: make a disc).
  • Prepare a baking sheet and line it with baking paper.
  • Then take a dough ball, put it on a flattened paper muffin line,r and squeeze it flat.
  • Oil the top of the dough, put a chopstick in the middle of the dough, and fold it over.
  • Shape the rest of the dough balls the same way.
  • Then cover the pan with a clean dish towel and let them rise for 30 minutes.
  • When the 30 minutes are up, it’s time to steam the buns.

Steam the buns

  • Put a bit of water at the bottom of a wok. Ensure the water does not hit the bamboo steamer when put inside.
  • Bring the water to a light simmer, and add the steamer basket to the wok.
  • Let them steam for 10 to 12 minutes.

Assemble the gua bao

  • To serve, put all the small bowls and the steamer basket onto the dining table and let everyone assemble their gua bao.
  • Grab a steamed bun and remove the liner; open the bun carefully.
  • Add some meat to the bao, then pickled carrots and pickled cucumbers.
  • Drizzle hoisin sauce on top and add a good sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds.
  • Then top with some spring onions and some fresh chilies. Enjoy.

Video

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