I guarantee these Korean-style crisp bao will be the biggest hit at your summer party. The rules for party food are simple: don't spend the whole party cooking, have something for everyone, and always, always aim to impress.
about 1 litre vegetable oil, for shallow frying
20 folded bao
10 small butter lettuce leaves
2 cups kimchi, drained and thinly sliced
5 thick spring onions, very finely shredded
1 cup Japanese mayonnaise
1 tbsp gochujang (Korean chilli bean paste)
1kg pork belly, bone removed, cut into 7cm wide strips
2 brown onions, unpeeled and quartered
5 thick slices of ginger, bruised
1 tsp salt
2 star anise
150ml dark soy sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1. For the braised pork, place the pork in a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil and boil for 10 minutes. Rinse the pork under cold water, discard the water and return the meat to the pot. Add the remaining braising ingredients and enough water to cover and bring to a simmer.
2. Simmer covered for one and a half hours, turning the pork occasionally then allow to cool to room temperature in the simmering liquid. Remove the meat from the liquid and slice into one-centimetre pieces.
3. For the hot mayo, mix the ingredients together until well combined.
4. When ready to serve, heat the oil in a frying pan to 160C. Fry four or five folded bao on each side for one to two minutes until golden brown on the outside but still white inside the fold. Drain and keep warm in a low oven while you complete the rest of the bao.
5. To assemble, open each fried bao and fill with a lettuce leaf, some kimchi and spring onion, a little of the hot mayo and a slice of pork. Serve immediately.
Tip: Folded bao are available both fresh and frozen from Asian grocery stores. If frozen, thaw and follow instructions to heat before frying. Or make your own steamed bao from scratch.