gua bao with hoisin and ginger pulled pork

gua bao with hoisin and ginger pulled pork

gua bao with hoisin and ginger pulled pork

Yes, this is definitely right up there amongst the most tasty and interesting things I’ve made in a while. The pork cooks in a slow cooker for about 9 hours, so virtually no effort is required. It pulls apart into its own completely delicious sweet and spicy sauce. The steamed buns need a little effort, but after two tries, both successful, I will definitely be making these again.

I made the pulled pork in the Breville Slow Cooker and was the first recipe I have ever made in such an appliance. I am sold. You put all the ingredients into the pot; turn it onto low and go to sleep. When you wake up the next day, your house smells  like something amazing happened and all you do is turn it off and you are ready to go. This makes more pulled pork than the recipe for 12 buns requires. I feel its worth making a bigger portion as its so delicious. You could double up on the buns, or freeze off any leftover posk. It lasts for days and there are so many exciting ways to use it up.

On my first test I used a 3.5kg bone in shoulder of pork or Boston Butt. The second time it was about 3kg, trimmed and without the bone. Both awesome, but I think its easier to just ask the butcher to do all the work. I tweaked the seasonings for my second test and am happy to say I have arrived at a perfect recipe for me. I love the flavour the hoisin delivers and I have kept it fairly mild with only one teaspoon of dried chilli flakes. I actually used smoked dried chilli flakes, but you could add more, or chilli powder if you wanted to ramp up the heat levels.

I made the steamed buns in my Breville 800 Class Mixer – stand mixer using the paddle attachment and dough hook. It pretty much does all the dirty work. It then just requires two separate proving stages. The milk powder is important, although on my second test I left it out by mistake. The buns still rose but the texture changed somewhat and I prefer the results with the powder. I steamed the buns in the Breville Multi Chef using the steamer basket. Easy peasy.

gua bao dough - steamed buns

gua bao dough

Recipe for steamed buns adapted from A Table for Two

gua bao with hoisin and ginger pulled pork


  • Pulled pork with hoisin and ginger
  • 1 x 3kg – 3.5kg pork shoulder / Boston butt, fat trimmed
  • 2t five spice powder
  • salt and pepper
  • 1t dried chilli flakes or smoked chilli flakes
  • 2T grated fresh ginger (about 10cm piece of ginger)
  • 6 – 8 cloves garlic sliced
  • 300ml hoisin sauce
  • 250ml (1 cup) ginger beer
  • Serve with a lightly dressed cabbage slaw, slices of fresh cucumber, pickled carrots, fresh coriander and hot sauce such as Sriracha
  • Slaw + dressing
  • 2T lime huice
  • 2T lemon juice
  • 2T rice vinegar
  • 1t sugar
  • 2 cups finely shredded cabbage
  • Steamed buns – gua bao dough
  • 200ml water, at room temperature
  • 10g instant dry yeast (I sachet)
  • 300g all purpose wheat flour (cake flour)
  • 10g milk powder
  • 4T caster sugar
  • A pinch of salt
  • ½ t baking powder
  • ½ t baking soda


  1. Rub the pork generously with the salt, pepper, five spice, chilli and ginger. Place in the main pot of the slow cooker and allow to marinate for about an hour. Pour over the hoisin sauce, ginger beer and add the garlic. Turn it onto slow, cover and cook for about 8 – 9 hours depending on the size of your pork. Once cooked, turn off and allow cool. Remove the meat, place on a tray and shred it with forks. It will literally pull part. Pour the sauce over it and keep anything left over in a pot for later if desired.
  2. To make the slaw, mix all the dressing ingredients together and toss with 2 cups of finely shredded cabbage.
  3. To make the dough, add yeast to the water in the bowl of the stand mixer and allow to activate for about 10 minutes.
  4. Use the paddle attachment, add the rest of the dry ingredients and mix briefly until you have a dough. Scrape the paddle, attach the dough hook and continue kneading for about 5 minutes. Remove from the bowl onto a floured surface and briefly knead to form a round dough ball that is springy to the touch.
  5. Place this in a greased bowl, and cover with a sheet of greased cling film and allow to prove in a warm place for about an hour. It should double in size.
  6. Pinch back the risen dough on a floured surface and roll this into a log shape. Divide this into 12 equal parts. Roll each of these parts into a ball and place on a floured tray. Cover with a tea towel and allow to prove for a second time for around 30 minutes. It should double in size again.
  7. While this is proving, cut out twelve 8cmx8cm squares of baking paper. Fill the Breville steamer with water and set to STEAM.
  8. Roll a bun into an oval shape, dip a chopstick into a bottle of oil and fold the two pieces over this stick, which you then slide out. Place this folded piece of dough on a piece of baking paper. Repeat with all 12 pieces.
  9. Steam the buns 3 at a time in the steamer for 5 minutes. They will be firm to the touch and cooked through. Repeat until they are all cooked.
  10. To assemble the gua bao, add sliced cucumber and pickle to the bottom of the bun, fill with pulled pork, and finish off with the dressed slaw and fresh coriander Add a drizzle of hot sauce if you like.

**This post has been sponsored by Breville South Africa. I’m working with the Marketing team on a wonderful project to develop recipes for these incredible appliances.

gua bao with hoisin and ginger pulled pork

I look forward to connecting with you again in the future.

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39 Responses to gua bao with hoisin and ginger pulled pork

  1. Lori August 18, 2014 at 2:34 pm #

    Beautiful work and they look so divine!
    I am going to try out that ginger pulled pork as well – sounds right up my alley

  2. Suné Moolman August 18, 2014 at 2:36 pm #

    Oh my goodness Sam, this is just too much for me to handle on a Monday.
    I’m speechless, and drooling on my keyboard.
    Utter brilliance! Those buns!!

  3. Kerry August 18, 2014 at 3:02 pm #

    Yum…definitely going to try this one!

  4. Gemma August 18, 2014 at 3:10 pm #
    I have a piece of pork in the freezer that has been waiting for inspiration – yaye! Loving the flavour combos, dare i say it I was getting fed up with bbq flavour!

  5. Sam August 18, 2014 at 3:12 pm #

    Thanks Sune. It seems complex but is really rather easy

  6. Sam August 18, 2014 at 3:13 pm #

    Awesome Gemma enjoy. Hoisin is at least a nice Asian flavour BBQ. A little different.

  7. Sam August 18, 2014 at 3:16 pm #

    Thanks Lori, have you used a slow cooker before? Im now a fan of this appliance.
    s x

  8. Victoria of Flavors of the Sun August 18, 2014 at 4:16 pm #

    I lit up when I saw this recipe–looks absolutely wonderful. I always thought that since the bulk of the meals I prepare that aren’t from my classes are vegetarian (the rest of my family is vegetarian),that I really don’t need a slow cooker. I might be wrong on this though…

  9. Sam August 18, 2014 at 4:23 pm #

    Hi Victoria, I think it’s mainly for meat, but I reckon a lot of vegetables will do with some slow braising. I’ll investigate.

  10. Carolie de Koster August 18, 2014 at 10:05 pm #

    This is stunning Sam! You are such an artist never mind chef and photographer! Will have to make it soon!

    C xxx

  11. Alanna August 19, 2014 at 1:27 am #

    These look incredible! Your photography is over the top amazing. 🙂

  12. Jason @ Plenty Of Zest August 19, 2014 at 2:04 am #

    These look amazing, Sam. I was working on a similar recipe (though with more of a char siu style flavour) a while back but haven’t nailed it yet. I think I should try your version!

  13. Sam August 19, 2014 at 10:48 am #

    Hi Jason, I love char siu and also dying to make with pork belly. I think this might be a little easier.

  14. Sam August 19, 2014 at 10:48 am #

    Thanks so much Alanna 🙂

  15. Sam August 19, 2014 at 10:49 am #

    Thanks so much Carolie, that is very kind
    Sam xx

  16. Tony August 19, 2014 at 11:26 am #

    hi sam, looks and reads so tasty. i’ve adding this to my to-do list for the week.
    3kg – 3.5kg pork shoulder seems like a lot of meat for the 12 buns. was there a lot leftover?

  17. Sam August 20, 2014 at 4:27 pm #

    Hi Tony, yes correct. My sense is you need to do a big pulled pork if you are going to fill the slow cooker, so yes, it uses up about half. I froze off a few leftover portions, but really its too delicious to nibble on leftovers. If you did a 3kg bone in – there wouldnt be as much left over, but I find hte deboned and trimmed much better value. I will also add this into the post.

  18. Dianne Bibby August 21, 2014 at 6:04 pm #

    Hi Sam. Looks utterly delicious as always. So clever the handy tip on dividing the bun!

  19. Thalia @ butter and brioche August 22, 2014 at 5:07 am #

    loving returning to your site as i always pick up new and delicious recipe ideas. i definitely will be recreating these gua bao buns tonight, they take me back to my childhood when my chinese grandfather used to make them for me! thanks for the inspiration!

  20. Gaby August 26, 2014 at 1:08 am #

    Oh my!!! The photos look amazing, would love to try one of those!!

  21. Sam August 27, 2014 at 3:53 pm #

    Thanks Gaby 🙂

  22. Wendy October 12, 2014 at 12:57 pm #

    Hi Sam,

    I have made your pulled pork from your Drizzel and Dip book ( I use all the time) and am going to do it for my daughters engagement party in two weeks, now i have seen this reciepe of yours and am panicing, is it better than your other one?
    also the slaw looks great, might change that part ?
    kind regards

  23. Sam October 13, 2014 at 10:38 am #

    Hi Wendy, Im so very glad to hear you are enjoying my book and like my pulled pork. The recipe for hoisin is modelled around that but the Hoisin gives it a more Asian flavour, and a sticky sweet BBQ sauce element. I also did that in the slow cooker. Both are nice. The book one is a little lighter.Why dont you give hte hoisin one a try and see which is better?

    let me know if you do, Id love to hear.

  24. Wendy October 14, 2014 at 12:09 am #

    hi Sam
    Thanks for taking the trouble to reply,
    I dont have time to try the new one, if I add the Hoisin Sause to your original recipy, will that work? love the idea of the stickyness, and love your flavors in the first one,you really are a brillant cook:)

  25. Sam October 14, 2014 at 9:48 am #

    Hi Wedndy – you could add a bottle of hoisin if you like. Im sure it wold be delicious.

  26. itsssmonica March 5, 2015 at 5:33 pm #

    HI! Where is this baseboard/background from? They are so, so gorgeous!!!!

  27. Kim August 3, 2015 at 3:41 pm #

    Sam, this site has been my ‘go to’ site for years. Your recipes just work and this one is no exception. I made it for the book club girls on Thursday night and it was a real hit (in fact I’ve never seen them eat so much before 🙂 I loved it) A few of the girls could not wait to make this for their families on Sunday. One even sent me a photo of her pulled pork and it had me wishing that I still had some left overs in the fridge…… Thank you for sharing and being so generous.

  28. Sam August 4, 2015 at 11:00 am #

    Thanks so much for he lovely comment and Im so glad you all liked my recipe as much as I did. The pleasure is all mine.
    best xx

  29. Steph November 15, 2015 at 11:51 am #

    I made this for dinner last night and it was delicious. Today I need to figure out what to make with the left over pulled pork. The pressure is on as last nights was so good. Thanks!! X

  30. Sam November 15, 2015 at 7:29 pm #

    Glad you enjoyed it it Steph and found some uses for the leftover pulled pork.

  31. Karen May 4, 2016 at 9:59 am #

    I don’t have a slow cooker, do you think I could put it into a Wonderbag or cook it in the oven? If so, what oven temp would you recommend?

  32. Sam May 4, 2016 at 1:28 pm #

    HI karen. I have no idea as I havent teste this recipe in the wonder bag. You could give it a go.

  33. Anna October 26, 2016 at 10:05 am #

    I only made this yesterday. Wish I’d done so much sooner. Made exactly as per the recipe (even the steamed buns) and was DELICIOUS. Thank you, Sam!


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