Saturday, November 6, 2010

Cooking Momofuku, Day 2: Pork Buns

Steam buns have long been one of my favorite foods. The bun itself is tender and slightly sweet. Traditionally they are filled with moist pork and eaten at dim sum. From the first time I saw the Momofuku cookbook, I knew that along with the Roasted Red Rice Cakes, I wanted to make their classic steam buns.

These ended up being quite a project. You need to make 3 parts, really. First, the dough. Then the roasted pork. Then the pickles.

The Dough/Buns
The dough worked up beautifully. Using both powdered milk and shortening makes them incredibly tender. But once we divided the dough into 50, our first buns were more like steam flats. We made them thicker. We let them rise more. We cooked them different ways. They never got close to resembling bun perfection. Whatever-no matter how they look they are ridiculously good. I could eat these for breakfast. And, ironically, after steaming the frozen (already cooked) buns, they steamed up even fuller.
The Pork
David Chang has you first rub the pork with salt and let it sit overnight in the frig. Then you cook it up. I loved the tenderness of the pork. But, despite being a salt-addict, the salt literally puckered my mouth. For the second bun, I rinsed off the salt (before searing it), which helped tremendously. This time I could enjoy the juicy pork.
We looked back to double check the recipe, and, yes, our proportions were correct, nor did it say to rinse off the salt rub in advance. So, next time? We will just reduce the amount of salt in the rub. I also used some of the pork using the recipe for Mastering the Art of Chinese Cooking.
The Pickles
Um...perfect. These took all of 5 seconds and were so good that my two year old was gobbling them up. A great recipe, too, for all the garden cucumbers. No need to buy pickles, again.

The overall verdict?

Very, very good. The sweet, soft bun, the acidic pickles, the moist and fatty pork and the sweet hoisin come together beautifully. I may even try to use make a vegetarian version of this (inspired by the tofu bao at Myers and Chang).

For another attempt to create them, check out this post from Michelle at Fun and Fearless in Beantown.


  1. These look fantastic and kudos to you for making the buns! I appreciate the shout-out to my blog!

  2. We love Momofuku too...we picked up some gorgeous pork belly at J.J. Gonson's Stillman's meat meet. Have you ever been? I made them with my mom and she didn't want to do the buns from scratch so we got them at H Mart frozen. Next time I really want to make the buns too!