A few months after our return from NY, there were a couple of dining experiences that still gets Howard and myself salivating at the mere thought of it. One of the most memorable things that we ate on the trip was Momofuku’s pork bun. Placed highly on our must eat list, it did not disappoint.
The mixture of the ridiculously soft belly pieces combined with the fluffy buns and the pickled cucumber made it hard to stop at just one, however common sense stepped in and reminded us that at ~$8 a pop, it was actually quite expensive.
A couple of weeks back, Howard and I were reminiscing about our trip, and the pork bun popped up. Having purchased the Momofuku book last year, and never cooking from it, I thought I’d give the buns a go. All of the ingredients required for the bun were easily accessible, and with left over milk powder from a previous momofuku inspired baking session, too easy.
I decided to pair the buns with my favourite Vietnamese style braised pork belly, recipe courtesy of my mum, and her home made pickled cucumbers. The combination of melt in your mouth caramalised pork belly and crunchy pickled cucumbers is one which needs to be experienced! The Momofuku pickles recipe can be found here.
Momofuku pork buns with Vietnamese caramalised pork belly
Momofuku Pork Bun
Can also be adapted from Gourmet Traveller
- 1 tbsp plus 1 tsp active dry yeast
- 1½ cups water, at room temperature
- 4½ cups bread flour
- 6 tbsp sugar
- 3 tbsp non-fat dry milk powder
- 1 tbsp kosher salt
- Rounded ½ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- 1/3 cup rendered pork fat or vegetable shortening at room temperature, plus more for shaping the buns, as needed. I used vegetable oil, which seems to work just as well.
- 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.
- 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.
- Meanwhile, cut out fifty 10cm squares of parchment paper. Coat a chopstick with whatever fat you’re working with.
- 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.
- 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.
Mum’s Vietnamese Caramalised braised pork belly
- 1.5kg pork belly
- 2 tablespoon sugar
- 0.5 tablespoon salt
- 0.5 teaspoon 5 spice powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic
- 450ml coconut juice
- 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
- 250ml chicken stock or paste (I used Campbells Real Stock Paste)
- Wash and dry pork belly, then chop in to 5cm cubes.
- Place pieces of pork belly in to a pot, then add the sugar. salt, 5 spice powder, garlic, dark soy sauce and light soy sauce. Mix the ingredients and allow to marinade for an hour.
- After the hour, transfer the pot to thestove, allow the pieces of pork belly to caramelise over high heat (~2 mins). At the same time, use a wooden spoon to toss the bellies around preventing the pieces from burning.
- Add the chicken paste and coconut juice, and allow to boil. Once boiled, reduce the heat to low and allow to simmer for 2 hours, or until the meat is tender and is covered in a thick sauce.
Prior to serving the buns, slice the pieces of pork belly in to 1cm width so that it easily fits in to the bun. To make up the buns, smear some hoisin sauce in to the cavity of the bun, add a slice of pork belly, add a couple of pieces of pickled cucumber, then topped with a splash or sriracha chilli sauce.
This has got to be one of the most easiest and satisying thing that I have ever cooked. I may be bias here, but I think mum’s pork belly was better than David Chang’s, it was much more tastier. It was fun to watch the family fill their own buns and add whatever condiments they wanted. These buns are so versatile that I think it will be a sure crowd pleaser regardless of fillings.