Taco Pao

Taco Pao is a fusion of three different cuisines Mexican for the taco concept then Chinese and Filipino for the pao, a steamed bun folded like a taco filled with asado style pulled pork, shredded cabbages, pickled radish, sliced chillies dressed with creamy mayonnaise. I am not sure who invented this but after searching online there was no luck so most probably the credit goes to the chef at Nanam, a Filipino eatery here in New Zealand. I got this idea after ordering it in the said restaurant, while the one I tried was nice I think it caters more for the non-Filipino palate hence the flavours are not as strong as I expected, I will be posting a separate review for that tomorrow so today I will be talking about my adapted and perhaps a better version of the Taco Pao.

For my Taco Pao I decided to make it asado style because the siopao back home is usually filled with such and to add a more Mexican twist to it not just the taco concept I had used some chillies and thinly sliced cabbages. The pickled radish is more like a Filipino element as the preparation of this is similar to atchara. For the taco part it was quite easy as I don’t have to make them as you can buy it frozen from Asian shops, though I know how to make the dough I don’t have any idea on how to shape it like a taco as it will rise during the steaming process.

If you tried Momofuku pork buns then this is something to try, it is in the same ball game, soft fluffy buns filled with melting pork and crispy veggies, what more can you ask for.

Taco Pao
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
  • Filling
  • 400g pork loin, cubed
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch, dissolved in ⅓ cup water
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp Chinese five spice powder
  • 1 cup water
  • oil
  • salt
  • Pickled Radish
  • 2 cups daikon radish
  • 1/2 thumb sized ginger, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • salt
  • Taco Pao
  • taco shaped steamed buns (bao/gwa pao)
  • thinly shredded cabbage
  • sliced red chillies
  • mayonnaise
  1. On a pan add oil and sauté garlic then add pork, stir fry pork for 3 minutes.
  2. Add water, soy sauce, brown sugar and 5 spice powder. Bring to a boil and simmer in low heat for 2 hours or until the meat breaks apart and can be easily pulled apart, mixing occasionally to prevent burning, add additional water if needed.
  3. Once meat has broken down add hoisin sauce then thicken it with cornstarch mixture, simmer further until sauce thickens.
  4. Season with salt. Turn heat off then set aside.
Pickled Radish
  1. Toss the radish and 1 tbsp salt together in a large bowl, set aside for 1 hour.
  2. Thoroughly rinse the radish in running tap water using a colander. Now place radish in a muslin cloth and squeeze to drain further.
  3. Now in a bowl combine radish and ginger.
  4. Now mix together vinegar, water, sugar and 1 tsp salt in a saucepan then bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes and do not stir.
  5. Place radish mixture in containers then pour liquid into the mixture, cover the container tightly then store in the refrigerator. For best results consume the Pickled Radish only after 2 days of making them.
Taco Pao
  1. Steam taco shaped steamed buns according to packet instructions
  2. Fill steamed buns with a heaping tablespoon of the filling, then the thinly shredded cabbage, pickled radish and chillies. Then dress with mayonnaise.