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Asian, Food, Vietnamese

Steamed Buns with Roasted Pork a la Momofuku

Note:  I pulled this one from the archives.  This was one of my most favorite recipes and according to WordPress, very few of you have actually seen it.  I want to change that. 

In the early days of this blog, I have  the Momofuku Compost cookies and the Momofuku Crack Pie (feel free to check out the links to them, but don’t laugh at my poor photography skills).  However,  I really thought the Momofuku Pork Buns were out of my league.  The soft buns alone were enough to scare me away….not to mention the roasted pork and all the steps involved.

But, last weekend was a long one (Presidents Day!)  and I was really missing Hawaii and some good Asian food.  So, I decided to attempt these little delicious buns.   I’m so glad I did!  The recipe does have a few different steps and may require a trip to the Asian market–but once you get going–they really don’t take that long and are well worth the time spent in the kitchen.

Read the whole recipe ahead of time because there is a lot of inactive time–either due to the meat marinating in the brine or the buns rising.

Here is what you need to do, step-by-step.

Start with the pork—-you need to get this into the brine for a minimum of 12 hours.

Roasted Pork

Recipe from Momofuku Cookbook

Keep in mind you will need to brine the pork for at least 12 hours.

Ingredients for brine:

4 cups of water

1/2 cup of Kosher salt

1/2 cup sugar

2 and 1/2 pounds of pork belly, quartered.   (I found this fresh at my local Asian market.)

1) Mix water, salt and sugar together in a large plastic bag until the salt and sugar have dissolved.

2) Add the pork belly to the brine.

3) Place bag in a large, shallow dish and refrigerate.   Allow to brine for 12-24 hours.

After the brine:

1)Heat oven to 300 degrees.

2) Place pork (no brine), fat side up, in a 8 or 9 inch square baking dish.  Add 1/2 cup of chicken broth and 1/2 cup of water.

3) Seal tightly with aluminum foil.

4) Bake for 2-2 and 1/2 hours.

5) Increase heat to 450 degrees, remove foil and continue baking for 20 minutes.  This will crisp up the tops.  (Unfortunately, I cooked mine for 30 minutes and slightly burned the tops.)

6) Once finished, let cool completely (about a hour.)

7) Cut into slices about 1/4 inch thick and put back in with the juices.

8 ) Before using, put the slices back in the oven at 350 degrees for about 12-15 minutes.  You wanna just warm them up.

Steamed Buns

Ingredients:

1/4  warm water (105-115°F)

1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast

3 tablespoons sugar plus a pinch

3/4 minus 2 Tablespoons of warm water

2 tablespoons milk

2  1/2 cups cake flour

1 cup all purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

Canola oil for greasing and brushing

1) Stir together 1/4 cup warm water with yeast and pinch of sugar. Let stand until foamy, 5 to 10 minutes.  Whisk in  milk and remaining 3/4 cup warm water.

2) Stir together flour and remaining 3 tablespoons sugar in a bowl, then stir in yeast mixture with a fork until a dough forms.

3) Knead dough with your hands in bowl until all of flour is incorporated. Continue kneading on a floured surface until dough is elastic and smooth–this should take about 5 minutes.  Form dough into a ball.

4) Put dough in an oiled large bowl and turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let dough rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled, about 2 hours.

5) After two hours, punch down dough and form a little pocket.  Add in the baking powder and knead for about 5 minutes until it is fully incorporated.  Let stand for about 30 minutes.

6) Prepare wax paper—you will need about 16 pieces cut in about 2x3inch rectangles.

7) Form a log out of your dough—it should be about 16 inches long and roughly the same diameter.  Cut into 16 equally sized pieces.  Don’t worry if you can’t get it perfect.

8 ) With flour on your hands and a rolling pin, roll each piece of dough into a 3 inch oval shape.  Pat between your hands to remove excess flour.  Lightly brush one side of the oval with oil and fold gently in half.  Place on a piece of wax paper and place on a baking sheet.  Keep these covered with plastic wrap as you prepare the others.

9)  Prepare your steamer.  I don’t have a bamboo steamer but a little metal steamer that fits into any old pot.  Use what you have.  You want to place about 3-4 buns in the steamer at a time and allow to steam for 3 minutes.

10) Remove with tongs.  Remove the wax paper and wrap in a dish towel (don’t use terry cloth towels or they will get a bunch of fuzz on them).

11) Continue until you have steamed all of your buns.

Quick Cucumber Salad

Ingredients:

1 cucumber, thinly sliced

3 Tablespoons sugar

1 Tablespoon Kosher salt

1) Mix salt and sugar together.

2) Sprinkle over cucumbers and lightly toss.

3) Store in refrigerator for about 30 minutes.

Assembling the Pork Buns

1) Take one steamed bun and lightly coat  bottom with hoisin sauce (you can find this at any Asian market and sometimes even Target.  If you are lucky enough to live in Hawaii, you can find it at every grocery store.)

2) Put on a couple cucumber slices.

3) Add in some slices of roasted pork and sprinkle with green onions.

4) Serve with a good beer and eat with friends!