Picasso once said:
“I paint the way some people write their autobiography. The paintings, finished or not, are the pages from my diary…”
Now, replace paint with “cook” in the first sentence and replace paintings with “dishes” in the second and you’ll understand why. My blog is pretty much a chronicle of my life. Many posts are prompted by an event, memory or story that’s happened to me. To many people, reading these stories would be similar to what I heard a little boy saying over and over again at the Picasso exhibit I went to today…. “boring, boring, boring…”, but to me, these are the moments worth savouring.
Take, for example, these Momofuku style pork buns. When I think Momofuku Pork Buns, I remember my last trip to New York where my husband and I had a Momofuku Day and hit all four of his restaurants in one day. I remember the time I took my Mom to the new Momofuku Seibo in Sydney and the expression on her face when they brought over the slow-cooked pork shoulder for “dessert” (priceless comes to mind!). Then there was New Year’s dinner with my husband, where, the Seibo chefs, when they found out that I did not drink, decided to create a “juice menu” for me (why didn’t anyone else think of that before? From now on juice menus should be mandatory at all restaurants!).
In this version, I thought I’d try something a little bit different and deep fry the pork belly upon the counsel of a few foodie friends. The pork belly is prepared Filipino Style. First, simmered with salt, bay leaves, garlic and onion, then deep fried over a low heat. Right before serving, the pork belly is fried again at a higher heat – there is something truly magical when you’re left with the most tender pork belly and super crispy skin.
So anyway, here it is – Momofuku Pork Buns with twice fried crispy pork belly. Seriously good stuff.
Momofuku Crispy Pork Buns
From David Chang
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 1 1/2 cups water at room temperature
- 4 1/2 cups bread flour
- 6 tablespoons sugar
- 3 tablespoons nonfat dry milk powder
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon rounded baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 cup rendered pork fat or vegetable shortening at room temperature plus more for shaping the buns as needed
- Combine all the ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer outfitted with the dough hook. Mix at the lowest possible speed for 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 and put the dough in it. Cover the bowl with a dry kitchen towel. Place in a warmish place. Allow the dough to rise until it doubles in bulk, around 1 hour, 15 minutes.
- 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 the half into 5 equal pieces. Gently roll the pieces into logs, then cut each log into 5 equal pieces, making 5o pieces total. They should weigh about 25 grams each (or the size of a ping pong ball). Roll each piece into a ball. Cover the dough balls with a draping of plastic wrap and allow them to rest and rise for 30 minutes.
- Cut our fifty 8 cm squares of parchment paper. Coat a chopstick with the fat you are working with.
- Flatten out one ball with the palm of your hand, then using a rolling pin to roll it out into a 8 cm 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 dry kitchen towel) and form the rest of the buns. Let the buns rest for 30 to 45 minutes; they will rise a little.
- 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 paper. You can use the buns immediately (reheat them in the steamer for a minute or so if necessary) or allow to cool completely, then seal in plastic freezer bags and freeze for up to a few months. Reheat the frozen buns in a stovetop steamer for 3 minutes, until puffy, soft and warmed all the way through.
Crispy Pork Belly
- 1 kilo pork belly
- 50 grams salt
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1/2 onion, peeled
- 2 bay leaves
- Place the pork belly, salt, garlic and onion in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a simmer and cook for 1 1/2 hours until the pork is tender. Remove from the pot and allow the pork to cool. Once cool, place the pork on a plate and keep uncovered in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours.
- Heat a deep fat fryer to the lowest setting (mine was 150c) and fry the pork for 20 minutes. Remove, cool and again place in the refrigerator, at least 3 hours.
- For the final cooking, heat the deep fat fryer to it’s highest setting (mine was 190 c), fry the pork again for 10 minutes until the skin crisps up. Remove, drain and slice for the pork buns.
For the pickled cucumbers
slice 2 cucumbers thinly, add 1 tablespoon sugar and 1 teaspoon salt. Let sit for 5 to 10 minutes before using.
- 1 steamed bun
- 2 slices of the crispy pork belly
- hoisin sauce
- pickled cucumbers
- spring onions, thinly sliced
- sriracha sauce for serving
- Open the bun and spread some hoisin sauce. Add the cucumbers, then layer with the crispy pork belly, and finally top with the spring onions.
- Serve with sriracha sauce on the side.