Hot pork puns, Hot pork buns

Hot pork buns from the Momofuku Book

I could go full hog on this post and turn a sows ear into a purse but I am too busy bringing home the bacon to feast on the trough of puns available to me.  Just the mention of pork belly makes most women recoil with fear as they visualize themselves in their summer bikinis.  In fact at my work I was told by two of my female co-workers that if I even put the words pork belly on a recreational class description it would receive as warm a reception as Gadafi at a human rights convention.  I did not heed their advice and put a pork belly laden Vietnamese menu on the calendar. They were right; it never sold.  When I see pork belly on a menu I become like a heat seeking missile. It beckons me with a come hither look and I throw all caution to the wind.

When I was in NYC for the Star Chefs Congress 3 years ago, I had to go try the pork buns at Momofuku Noodle Bar.  I had heard about them from various sources and was coveting them prior to my arrival.  They were indeed awesome.  So naturally it was on my list of things to try to make from David Chang’s Book.  I have been consistently amazed at how easy the recipes are in this book and of course that makes it an even more worthwhile to purchase.

Momofuku pork belly

So here it is.  Get some good pork belly, put the salt sugar rub on it (let’s call this Chang’s Simple rub as it is generally equal parts salt and sugar and he uses it on everything). Let it cure overnight. I got my pork belly through Ranch Foods Direct and we have recently become an affiliate of theirs at our school. Put the pork belly into a roasting pan and roast in a pre-heated 450° for a half an hour.  His book says for an hour but I was worried it might render too much fat and as you can see from the above picture it was nicely seared in that time. Then drop the temp to 200° (make sure you let all the heat escape from the oven first) and bake it for another hour and a half.During that time ask yourself what is the difference between Roast and Bake?

Baste regularly with all the abundant fat. Remove the pork belly from the oven and allow to cool. Pour the fat into a measuring cup and once all the fat has risen to the top, rack it off and freeze the juice at the bottom of the cup.  David calls this liquid gold and he advises adding it to his taré which is then added to his ramen broth (see my last post if you are confused or bust out the $21 and buy the book on amazon). Wrap the pork belly and put in the fridge to set.

Nice Buns!

Meanwhile make the pork bun dough or do like I did and buy some already made and available in the freezer section (along with some other really bizarre stuff) of your Asian grocery store. Remember don’t go on a Sunday or you might go postal.  If you bought them pre-made, then heat up a steamer and place the buns in the steamer to heat through. You can also re-heat your pork belly in the same steamer. Cut some scallions and slice some cucumbers.  I didn’t have cukes when I took the shot above, so I substituted zucchini and it worked beautifully. Actually for me it is a better solution as cucumbers take their revenge on me for hours after I eat them.  Remove the buns from the steamer brush on a little Hoisin sauce, place slices of cucumber or zukes on the bun. Slice the pork belly against the grain, arrange slices on top of the zukes and sprinkle with scallions. Eat quickly – repeat.
I’ve figured I can have quick access to this dish on a regular basis by freezing sections of cooked pork belly.  All I need are the scallions and cucumbers and I am only a few minutes from a very tasty treat.
Oh by the way pork belly is what they use to make bacon and I bet you don’t pass that up for breakfast.

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