Aside from the usual fireworks, we celebrate the turning of the new year in the Philippines with a mass and a media noche (midnight) dinner. Dinner must include of course 12 round fruits (round for prosperity and 12 for each of the calendar months), noodles (for long life), and anything round.
Last year, our family had an outdoor grill and a hamburger party using Ina Garten‘s recipe (Real Hamburgers Recipe : Ina Garten : Food Network) and sidings. This year, however the family wanted something lighter and easy to digest (since we had to go to bed after eating the midnight dinner). So the New Year menu ended up with Pork Buns and Chicken Noodle hotpot.
I saw David Chang demonstrate this recipe in Martha’s show a couple of years back and had several occasions to serve this to my family. I tried the recipes both on the Martha website (Steamed Pork Buns – Martha Stewart Recipes) and the recipe on the Momofuku book . My conclusion is the book has a better recipe for the pork, but the website has a better recipe for the buns. The picture above shows my inferior looking buns based on the book version, small and flat (unlike real life!)
Both recipes are way too much to eat in one sitting. Each person can probably eat around three of these with a bowl of soup. There are plenty of leftovers for reheating and eating with rice the next day.
The recipe for the belly and the buns are below with my comments. Serve at the table with sliced pickled cucumber, hoisin sauce and spring onions.
Each bite is perfectly meaty, fatty, salty-sweet, crunchy and cool. My mouth waters just thinking about it.
*Plan ahead. If you want to serve this at dinnertime on a Sunday, you need to start marinading on Saturday afternoon, and start roasting the mid morning of Saturday. Marinade up to 24 hours before, cooking time is around 2 hours, chilling time is around 2 hours, and the buns you can do while the pork is chilling. If you are too lazy, the pork belly also tastes great naked!
Pork Belly Recipe
3 lb slab skinless pork belly, no bones (Ask your butcher to do it. Skinless is important! I forgot that part before and I had a heck of a time cutting the skin out and slicing the pork after its cooked)
1/4 c kosher salt (I just used rock salt)
1/4 c sugar
- Mix together the salt and sugar in a small bowl and rub the mix all over the meat.
- Cover the container in plastic wrap and put it into the fridge for at least 6 hours but no longer than 24 hours. ( I tried the 6 hour version, and the 24 hour version. The overnight version is best).
- Heat the oven to 450 degrees F.
- Discard any liquid that accumulated in the container. Transfer the belly into an ovenproof container, fat side up, then place in oven. Cook for 1 hour, basting it with rendered fat at the halfway point. Your target is to get the slab into a nice golden brown. (I used a rack so the belly doesn’t soak in fat this time. Makes the meat less fatty. As if it helps 🙂 )
- Turn the oven temperature down to 250 degrees F and cook for another hour until belly is tender. Poke the center of the belly and it should have a slight give, like medium rare steak.
- Transfer the pan into a plate, then decant the meat and juices. You will use this later for making the pork buns. (I let the belly cool on the rack so it will have a chance to drip out more fat. As you can see in the picture below, the fat has rendered nicely and what you have left is thin layers of fat that makes each bite soft, but not too sinful).
- When its cool enough, put it fridge until its chilled. This step is very important, you won’t be able to slice the meat nicely if you skip this step.
- Cut the pork belly into 1/2 inch slices that are about 2 inches long. (You have to be able to trust the slicer because almost a 1/4 pound of meat disappears at this stage, being eaten by the cook and by curious passersby. Very hard to resist). Warm them for serving in a pan (or zap it into the microwave for 60 sec) until heated through.
At this stage, its good enough to eat and serve with rice 🙂 If you would like to serve it with buns, see the recipe below. For some reason, the recipe in the book varied slightly from the website version (i.e. web version did not have milk, baking powder, soda, and more sugar). I had better results using this recipe than the one in the Momofuku book.
This bun recipe is courtesy of David Chang.
The Martha Stewart Show, November Fall 2007
Yield Makes 30
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 1/2 tablespoons pork fat or lard, melted
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
4 cups bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup sugar
Grapeseed oil (or any oil)
- In a glass measuring cup, mix together yeast, water, and pork fat until yeast is dissolved. Set aside. (I used even the drippings from the pork, hence my buns look a little brownish).
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, mix together both flours, salt, and sugar until well combined. Add yeast mixture and mix until dough comes together. Once it comes together, knead for 8 minutes.
- Coat a large bowl with grapeseed oil; add dough and turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size, about 2 hours.
- Punch down dough. Roll dough into a log about 30 inches long. Cut dough into 30 golf ball-sized pieces. Transfer to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap; let rise 40 minutes.
- Meanwhile, cut out 30 square pieces of parchment paper (4 inches each).
- Working with one piece of dough at a time, press dough flat and, using a rolling pin, roll dough toward you into a 6-by-3-inch oval.
- Repeat process with remaining dough. Brush each piece of dough lightly with grapeseed oil and fold in half using a chopstick. Place each piece of dough on an individual piece of parchment paper. Cover loosely with a towel and let rise slightly, about 30 minutes.
- Set a large bamboo steamer in a large skillet or wok filled with water about 1/2 inch up the sides of the steamer basket; bring to a boil. Working with 5 to 7 buns at a time, place buns on their parchment paper in the steamer basket; cover and steam over high heat until puffed and cooked though, about 10 minutes. (It only takes a few minutes to cook not ten minutes as stated in the recipe. If you overdo it, the entire bun flops. Experiment first with a couple to get the timing right. The bun is cooked if the inside of the bun no longer feels tacky.)
(Modern and traditional meet: a bamboo steamer on top of an Imarflex electric multicooker!)
- Pork Belly (myrecipefeed.wordpress.com)
- Hot pork puns, Hot pork buns (lambbeforethyme.wordpress.com)