It has been almost a year since I was in New York but over this past week I recreated one of the meals whilst I was there, from Momofuku Ssam Bar in the East Village one of David Chang’s restaurant’s. My brother bought me the Momofuku cookbook for Christmas but these posts are the first things ive actually made from it. Most of the recipes are relatively long with multiple steps but the 3 recipes im going to share are not difficult but do have a fair few steps. It may have been a year since I ate these dishes but the taste of my attempts took me straight back to that week and that restaurant, I actually thought the taste was pretty spot on. To start off I tackled one of the most popular dishes on the menu and my favorite of the meal, pork buns. The recipe is simple but making the buns takes considerable time and because of this Chang says if you can buy ready made buns you should with no pangs of guilt. I decided to plow ahead and make the buns and they were pillowy soft, light and easy to make but do take quite a few hours to make.
1 Tblsp plus 1 Tsp Active Dry Yeast
1 1/2 Cups Water, room temperature
4 1/2 Cups Bread Flour
6 Tblsp Sugar
3 Tblsp Nonfat Dry Milk Powder
1 Tblsp Kosher Salt
Rounded 1/2 Tsp Baking Powder
1/2 Tsp Baking Soda
1/2 Cup Rendered Pork Fat or Vegetable Shortening, room temperature
1. Combine the water and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Add the other ingredients and mix on the lowest speed, just above a stir, for 8-10 minutes. The dough should gather into a neat, not too tacky ball on the dough hook. Once it does put the dough into a lightly oiled medium bowl and cover with a dry kitchen towel. Place the dough in a warmish place, such as a turned off oven, for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until doubled in size.
2. Punch the dough down and divide in half, then divide each half into 5 equal pieces. Gently roll each piece into a log and divide into 5 pieces creating 50 pieces which should weigh about 25g. Roll each piece of dough into a ball and cover with plastic wrap, let rise for 30 mins.
3. Whilst the dough balls are rising cut out fifty 4-inch squares of parchment paper and coat a chopstick in whatever fat you are using.
4. Flatten out each ball of dough with your palm then roll out into a 4 inch long oval. Lay the chopstick across the middle off the dough and fold over creating your bun. Withdraw the chopstick and place the bun on a square of parchment and place back under the plastic wrap. Once you have formed all 50 buns let them rest for a further 45 minutes.
5. Set a steamer up on your stove. Working in batches steam the buns for 10 minutes. Remove from the steamer, dispose of the parchment and let cool on a rack. Once cooled completely they can be sealed and frozen for months without losing any quality. Reheat frozen buns in a steamer for 2 to 3 minutes until soft, puffy and warmed through (I defrosted on the counter and warmed in a microwave).
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
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
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.