The smell of bacon in a frying pan might just be enough to raise the dead. At the very least, it's enough to wake us up on a Sunday morning – and wrapping two slices of bread around crispy, streaky bacon could well be a taste of heaven.
But meat and bread have made a perfect pair all over the world, and Taiwanese gua bao might be even better than our trusted bacon sandwich. They're popular as snacks, and great to grab and go for afternoon fuel on the move. Check out Ninja Kitchen's pork buns to see what you've been missing out on…
The original: bacon sandwich
Bacon is a classic sandwich filling. Pair it with crisp lettuce and tomatoes for a traditional BLT, use it to top a burger, or have it on its own. There's much debate over how to make a perfect bacon sandwich too – do you go for a soft bap that lets the fat soak in, or toasted sourdough for a complementary crunch? Roll, bagel or baguette? Heck, there's enough to argue about even in the name – is it a butty, sarnie or bap?
For a satisfying brunch that staves off those eleven o'clock munchies, get your bacon in a crusty baguette. Jimbob's Baguettes have a whole menu section dedicated to bacon in bread, so get yours with brie, avocado, sausage or anything else you could desire. If you're going to eat a bacon sandwich, you might as well do it properly.
The alternative: gua bao
Chinese bao buns are often served as dim sum, stuffed full of pork or other goodies and steamed for a fluffy finish. Taiwanese gua bao are a different take on this, using the bun as an outer casing to hold the filling. It's like a cross between a soft-shell taco and a roll.
You typically find gua bao full of pork, which is how Ninja Kitchen make their Classic Pork bun. Instead of cured slices of bacon, the same core cuts – shoulder or belly – are traditionally slow-cooked in spiced sauce. Ninja Kitchen go for a marinated pulled pork approach, and layer the rest of the bun up with house pickles, spring onions and coriander, which are all covered in sticky and sweet hoisin sauce and a sprinkle of peanut powder.
Bite through the pillowy, slightly chewy bun and taste the salty-sweet meat within. Bacon sandwiches can pack their bags – now it's time to take a bao.