Momofuku. What the hell does that mean? Not sure, somewhere in the introduction to his very beautiful, but incredibly difficult cookbook, David Change describes how he came up with the name for his now infamous restaurant. Now there are four restaurants and the empire keeps growing. Delicious yes, but also expensive and in Manhattan (my recent fatwah against eating out in that borough has not been lifted). So, I decided to make Momofuku’s famous pork buns at home.
Greenpoint is pretty limited in the Asian grocery store department, so I headed into Chinatown, feeling slightly nostalgic since this blog was started exactly a year ago with a post about Chinatown. It’s pretty neat how things come full-circle. Anyways, I headed to Hong Kong Supermarket at the corner of Hester and Elizabeth St, which is pretty ridiculous. It’s a Chinese market, but caries anything you could ever need for a Korean, Japanese or Vietnamese meal (mmmm). I walked up to butcher counter and pointed at the porkelly, and in a flurry of hand gestures I asked for “One pound.” The Chinese butcher grabbed this giant slab, threw the whole thing on the scale and then into a plasti bag. “No, no no, can I have half,” I protested. He defiantly said no. I would have protested, utill I saw the pricetag $4.30, well that shut me up. Feeling giddy from my pork score, I loaded up my basket with rice vinegar, bean sprouts, gyoza, tofu and other Asian staples.
In the Momofuku cookbook, Chang presents his recipe for the steamed bun, which makes about a million of them and deffinately requires a Kitchen Aid with a dough hook. Well, F that, they sell refigerated steamed buns at Hong Kong Market for a dollar a dozen. WIN. They deffinatley arent as amazing as fresh made ones would be, but hey, who the hell has the time or space to make 50 steamed buns by hand. NOT I. So I cheated, yes…but I also had perfect pork buns in about two hours. 🙂
Belly Pork – enough for about 12 buns
3lb Slab Skinless Pork Belly
1/4 Cup Kosher Salt
1/4 Cup Sugar
1. Put the belly in a roasting pan, fat side up. MIx the salt and sugar together in a bowl then rub the mixture over the pork, discarding any excess. Cover the roasting pan with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least 6 hours, no longer than 24.
2. Preheat the oven to 450F/230C. Discard any excess liquid that has accumulated in the roasting pan, rinse and dry thoroughly with paper towels. Put the belly back in the pan, fat side up, and cook for 1 hour, basting halfway through the hour with the rendered fat, until the belly is golden brown.
3. Turn the temperature to 250F/120C and cook for a further hour to hour fifteen until the belly is tender “it shouldn’t be falling apart, but it should have a down pillow-like yield to a firm finger poke”. Take the pork out the oven and rest on a plate. Once cool enough to handle wrap in either foil or plastic wrap and chill until thoroughly cooled in the fridge. This step allows you to cut perfect slices but you can skip if in a rush.
4. Cut the belly into 1/2 inch thick slices which are about 2 inches long. To warm for serving cook in a frying pan for a minute or two over medium heat until softened and heated. serve at once.
Quick Pickled Cucumbers
2 Meaty Kirby Cucumbers, cut into 1/8-inch slices
1 Tbslp Sugar
1 Tsp Kosher Salt, or more to taste
1. Mix the cucumber slices with the sugar and salt in a small bowl and let sit for 5-10 minutes.
2. Taste the pickles. If they are too sweet or salty rinse them with cold water and dry with 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.
Momofuku Pork Buns (with my edits)
1 Steamed Bun
1 Tblsp Hoisin Sauce
3 or 4 Pickled Cucumbers
3 Slices Pork Belly
1 Scant Tblsp Thinly Sliced Scallion (green and white)
Sriracha, for serving
ADD: Sauteed bean sprouts with sesame oil. Kim Chi and Cilantro and a slab of grilled tofu. TRUST ME >
1. Heat the bun on a steamer, it should be hot to the touch. Open the bun and brush one side with hoisin, arrange the pickles on one side and the pork on the other. Scatter with scallions and fold closed. Serve immediately with the sriracha.
GINGER SCALLION SAUCE
Makes about 3 cups
2½ cups thinly sliced scallions (greens and whites; from 1 to 2 large bunches)
½ cup finely minced peeled fresh ginger
¼ cup grapeseed or other neutral oil
¾ tsp sherry vinegar
¾ tsp kosher salt, or more to taste
2 Tbs soy sauce
Mix all the ingredients together and let sit for 15-20 minutes before using. Toss on ramen or buckwheat noodles.