So first off, perhaps a little delayed, but I would like to welcome you with open arms to one of my favorite times of the year, the “February Drop-off”.
Here Here! And if you haven’t made that giant leap to the dark side, do it, I dare you. Welcome to a life filled with eating a copious amount of carbs in order to make up for the January avoidance. We, the drop-offers, are now able to stop contemplating ways to end our lives and can fully enjoy one of our true purposes for existence. Food. Our self diagnosis of a gluten allergy has diminished and we are full-on gluten tolerant. Bring on the beer, breads & brats!
Or for this particular post, bring on the Gua Bao. (Okay doesn’t flow as nicely, but once it is in/on/somewhere around your mouth all lack-of-flowiness will be forgotten).
Gua Bao, probably the next greatest thing to homemade Tacos.
Not even a little.
Newp, still not budging.
So what exactly IS Gua Bao you ask? The literal meaning is “cut bread”. But in fact it is much more than that. It is a lightly sweetened steamed bun (shaped almost like flat bread) with bits of meat in the middle. Traditionally you’ll find pork belly, however I am finding it all over restaurants with a million different options for the “stuffing”.
For this particular recipe I was influenced by my Banh Mi recipe, tangy dressing with some fresh greens on top. I also went through several different steam bun recipes to finally figure out what worked best for my own taste & texture. I also wanted the ingredients to be readily available, and more than likely already in your pantry.
The buns do have yeast so yes there will be a little bit of kneading & rising, but nothing that should scare you away from making this.
Don’t let the bamboo basket make you feel like you won’t be able to steam ya buns! You can use a regular metal steamer, just again, make sure to lay down parchment paper or lettuce/cabbage leaves so the dough won’t stick to the steamer.
If you are having a party, make the buns in advance! You can do this by steaming them all and then storing them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to TWO weeks. All you have to do is pop them back into the steamer before you are ready to eat for about 3-4 minutes and they’ll be good as new (restaurants usually do this).
The flower design on top of the buns is COMPLETELY optional. I actually got this idea from “Lady & Pups” recipe (though I don’t use her actual recipe since she weighs her ingredients – something I just can’t begin to do – I followed her flower tutorial aka dye & chopsticks).
For the pulled chicken, I actually baked 1 lb of chicken breast (lightly oiled with some salt & pepper) in the oven at 350 for 35-40 minutes, and then pulled the meat apart with a fork. However for ease you can easily purchase a rotisserie chicken and pull apart all of the meat.
If you do not have oyster sauce you may use fish sauce however you’ll need to axe the salt content & add a little more honey for sweetness. Do this to taste. Also if you don’t have sesame oil you may use regular vegetable or olive oil, just will lack the nuttiness that the sesame oil provides. Also as a last resort if you don’t have hoisin you may use ketchup. Believe it or not, it actually works. Obviously not the same flavoring, but you gotta do what you gotta do.