Momofuku week, Pork belly buns
These buns are something I have made in the past, even before the Momofuku cookbook was released. Normally I make them with red-cooked pork belly, recipe courtesy of my friend Lorna, but for these ones I used the roasted pork belly from the ramen, a prime example of the versatility of these recipes.
You really can’t get much simpler than this: rub the pork belly with equal parts of sugar and kosher salt, let it cure for a few hours, then roast. David Chang has a good narrative in the book describing the reasoning behind his roasting technique, which involves high heat for a short period, followed by a low and slow oven until finished. (A tip if you are following the book, I recommend a rinsing of the salt/sugar mixture off pork belly before you roast it. The seasoning is fairly aggressive if you want to eat the belly on its own, and why wouldn’t you want to eat the belly on its own?)
A Momofuku inspired touch was the addition of a quick pickling to usually bare cucumber (pickling will be the subject of an upcoming post). To finish the bun: a dollop of hoisin, a slice or two of pork belly, two or three slices of pickled cucumber, and scallions. As for the steamed buns, there is a recipe in the book, but the frozen ones I buy are pretty good. Like with the noodles for ramen, the chef doesn’t want you to work too hard.
If you have…a Chinese bakery or restaurant where you can easily buy them, or even a well-stocked freezer section…I encourage you to exercise it without any pangs of guilt. How many sandwich shops bake their own bread? Right.
These are so simple and so good that it is really easy to eat three, four, or five of these buns without realizing. Chang describes these as an eleventh-hour addition to their menu, a throw away idea. They have since become Momofuku’s signature dish, and it is very easy to see why.