This was easy to put together last weekend thanks to the Taiwanese sandwich buns that are sold frozen in many Chinese shops. I bought mine at my local Wing Yip and I’ve found them online (for local delivery only) at Bristol’s Wai Yee Hong. They look petite when frozen but after their session in the streamer, they puff up and you quickly adjust your number of buns per person.

I filled mine with a very simple braised pork mixture that tastes fantastic in spite of its simplicity. It’s a bung it all into a pot and leave it deal. And I like to think that as I’m using pork shoulder instead of the usual fattier pork belly but really, that’s just me being a bit deluded. The work is really minimal and you’re rewarded with big puffy sandwiches filled with juicy meat.

Taiwanese Style Pulled Pork Buns

Taiwanese-Style Braised Pulled Pork

Pork shoulder, about 1.5 kg
Daikon radish, 1, peeled and cut into large slices
sunflower oil
100 ml light soy sauce
100 ml dark soy sauce
2 large garlic cloves, smashed
1 star anise
1/2 tsp five spice powder

Cut the pork shoulder into large chunks, trimming off the fat and skin. Heat a large pot over medium-high heat and add a little sunflower oil. Add the pork shoulder and brown on all sides. Cover with water and add the soy sauces, garlic cloves, star anise and five spice powder. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook for about 1 hour. Skim if necessary. After an hour is up, add the daikon, adding more water if required and continue simmering for another hour. At this point, the daikon should be tender and the pork chunks falling apart at the prod of a fork.

Now to put together the sandwiches!

Taiwanese Pulled Pork Buns

Prepare the buns (my package said to steam for 15-20 minutes). Take a small handful of roasted peanuts and chop finely and mix with sugar. Chop some pickled mustard greens as well. Get some crispy fried shallots/onions. Clean a few sprigs of coriander.

Take a few pieces of braised pork and shred them using two forks, pulling the meat apart. Pile generously into the steamed buns. Add a slice of daikon if you wish. Top with some of the chopped pickles, peanuts, fried shallots and coriander. Eat.

When considering the Shanghainese soup dumplings – xiao long bao – inevitably, the name Din Tai Fung comes up. There are branches of this Taiwanese-based restaurant all over the world but somehow I’d still not managed to visit even though I could have in the past few years. We stopped in to the branch in Hong Kong’s Causeway Bay for a late lunch one day for me to have this rectified. Again, coming outside the regular mealtimes paid off and there were no queues. From their long menu, we only ordered a small selection of their most famous dishes.

Their pork xiao long bao must be one of their most popular items and an order of six came flying to our table shortly after we ordered. Instructions were provided at the table if you’re not sure how to tackle one – be careful not to burn yourself on the soup inside! That sweet, meaty broth didn’t leak from any of the beautifully pleated, thin-skinned pork dumplings and they were a pleasure to eat with a dab of ginger and vinegar. I’ve not had xiao long bao in London that came anywhere near these.

Pork Xiao Long Bao

The green vegetable and pork dumplings were good but next time (whenever that will be), I’ll just OD on the xiao long bao.

Green Vegetable and Pork Dumplings

Dan dan la mian was a tidy little bowl of hand pulled noodles in a gently spiced sesame and peanut sauce. They were delicious and nutty. I believe this kind of dan dan mian is Taiwanese in style; the original Sichuan version is different – porkier and much spicier. I do enjoy both versions though.

Dan Dan La Mian

Their fried pork chop went well with the noodles. This thin chop had been marinated in a give spice mixture and fried to tenderness. It was excellent. (I’ve tried making it in the past.)

Fried Pork Chop

The price for our meal was very reasonable and if I had had more time in Hong Kong, I would have loved to go back to have more dumplings. On our way out, we stood and watched the chefs make red bean dumplings. Terribly fiddly things and I’m glad they were making them and not I!

Making Dumplings

Din Tai Fung
G/F, 68 Yee Woo Street
Causeway Bay
Hong Kong

They have branches all over the world but sadly not here – do go and support Mr Noodles’ campaign to bring Din Tai Fung to London! Please, Din Tai Fung, we need you in Europe!