Momofuku Steamed Pork Buns

Ingredients

Buns

  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups water, room temp
  • 4 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons nonfat dry milk powder
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • rounded 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/3 cup pork belly fat

Pork Belly

  • One 3-pound slab skinless pork belly
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar

Quick-Pickled Cucumbers

  • 2 meaty Kirby cucumbers, cut into 1/8-inch-thick disks
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

For Serving

  • a bunch of scallions, sliced
  • fresh cilantro (my addition)
  • hoisin sauce
  • Sriracha

momofuku-prep

Directions

Buns

  1. Combine the yeast and water in the bowl of a stand mixer outfitted with the dough hook. Add the flour, sugar, milk powder, salt, baking powder, baking soda and fat and mix on the lowest speed possible, just above a stir, for 8-10 minutes. The dough should gather together into a neat, not-too-tacky ball on the hook. When it does, lightly oil a medium mixing bowl, put the dough in it, and cover the bowl with a dry kitchen towel. Put it in a turned-off oven with a pilot light or other warmish place and let rise until the dough doubles in bulk, about 1 hour 15 minutes.
  2. Punch the dough down and turn it out onto a clean work surface. Using a bench scraper or a knife, divide the dough in half, then divide each half into 5 equal pieces. Gently roll the pieces into logs, then cut each log into 5 pieces, making 50 pieces total. They should be about the size of a ping-pong ball and weigh about 25gm. Roll each piece into a ball. Cover the armada of little dough balls with a draping of plastic wrap and allow them to rest and rise for 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, cut out fifty 10cm squares of parchment paper. Coat a chopstick with whatever fat you’re working with.
  4. Flatten one ball with the palm of your hand, then use a rolling pin to roll it out into a 10cm-long oval. Lay the greased chopstick across the middle of the oval and fold the oval over onto itself to form the bun shape. Withdraw the chopstick, leaving the bun folded, and put the bun on a square of parchment paper. Stick it back under the plastic wrap (or a dry kitchen towel) and form the rest of the buns. Let the buns rest for 30-45 minutes: they will rise a little.
  5. Set up a steamer on the stove. Working in batches so you don’t crowd the steamer, steam the buns on the parchment squares for 10 minutes. Remove the parchment. You can use the buns immediately (reheat them for a minute or so in the steamer if necessary) or allow to cool completely, then seal in plastic freezer bags and freeze for up to a few months. Reheat frozen buns in a stovetop steamer for 2-3 minutes, until puffy, soft and warmed all the way through.

Pork Belly

  1. Nestle the belly in a roasting pan or other oven-safe vessel that holds it snugly. Mix together the salt and sugar in a small bowl and rub the mix all over the meat; discard any excess salt-and-sugar mixture. Cover the container with plastic wrap and keep in fridge for at least 6 hours but no longer than 24 hours.
  2. Heat the oven to 450F. Discard any liquid that accumulated in the container. Put the belly in the oven, fat side up, and cook for 1 hour, basting it with the rendered fat at the halfway point, until it’s an appetizing golden brown.
  3. Turn the oven temperature down to 250F and cook for another 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes, until the belly is tender – it shouldn’t be falling apart, but it should have a a down pillow-like yield to firm finger poke. Remove the the pan from the oven and transfer the belly to a plate. Decant the fat and the meat juices from the pan and reserve for other uses. (for example saute vegetables). Allow the belly to cool slightly.
  4. When it is cool enough to handle, wrap the belly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil and put in fridge until it’s thoroughly chilled and firm. (You can skip this step if you are pressed for time, but the only way to get neat, nice-looking slices is to chill the belly thoroughly before slicing it.)
  5. Cut the pork belly into 1/2-inch thick slices that are about 2 inches long. Warm them for serving in a pan over medium heat, just for a minute or two, until jiggly soft and heated through. Use at once.
This is what 8 pounds of pork belly looks like all rolled up.

This is what 8 pounds of pork belly looks like all rolled up.

Quick-Pickled Cucumbers

  1. Combine the vegetable with the sugar and salt in a small mixing bowl and toss to coat with the sugar and salt. Let sit for 5 to 10 minutes.
  2. Taste: if the pickles are too sweet or too salty, put them into a colander, rinse off the seasoning, and dry in a kitchen towel. Taste again and add more sugar or salt as needed. Serve after 5 to 10 minutes, or refrigerate for up to 4 hours.

Assemble Buns

  1. For each bun, layer a slice of pork belly, some quick pickles, scallions, Sriracha, hoisin, and cilantro.
  2. Eat and enjoy!

momofuku-pork-buns

Notes

This recipe is from the Momofuku cook book; David Chang is an amazing chef!

A couple items that I tweak when I make this:

  1. I only let the pork belly sit in the salt/sugar mixture for about an hour. I also remove most of the salt/sugar from the pork belly before roasting it. Otherwise it’s way too salty and sweet for me.
  2. In addition to the pork belly, sauces, and pickles, I add fresh cilantro when assembling the buns like little tacos.
  3. Dick made little bun/taco holders out of thin pieces of wood trim and dowels. They come in super handy for serving and each can hold 3 buns…

bun-holders

pork-bun

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