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by on March 1st, 2014

Momofuku’s Steamed Buns and Quick Pickles

 Soft and delicious buns and the pickles are bad either.

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Here’s the second installment of the pork belly saga.

Thinking of Steamed Buns brings up thoughts of dim sum and being in Chinatown/San Francisco. Back in 2001 (just a week before 9/11 happened) we were in San Francisco/Napa with our friends Peggy and Gordon. While in San Francisco we were in Chinatown and went for dim sum at supposedly one of their best places. Well, Peggy and I both can now hear the word “dim sum” and it always gets a smile and chuckle from us.

We didn’t know what to order and it seemed like everything put on our plates was sweet and gooey. I remember the buns but not what was in ours, something sweet and gooey I’m sure. Anyway, it was a fun experience watching all the waitpeople come by with their carts of goodies. Too bad we weren’t up on what to order off the menu.

Since, that experience we have had dim sum with our son/daughter-in-law in Chicago and they’re experts on everything on the menu and we have enjoyed it very much and will be much better prepared the next time on what to order.

So for this recipe you will need the Braised Pork Belly recipe that I posted a few days ago and the cucumbers that are used in this little Pork Belly Steamed Bun Sandwich.

I do hope you will try these little buns, or you could make a pulled pork sandwich using these little white buns.

I think these Steamed Buns, the Quick Pickled Cucumbers, Pork Belly and the glaze make one terrific bite of a sandwich and you won’t regret the hours it takes making the pork belly or the buns. I’m giving you the pickle recipe along with the steamed buns just because the pickles are so quick and easy and the “pickle” post would be all of about two lines long. So, you can eat these pickles with whatever you chose; I made them to go with the Pork Belly and Steamed Bun sandwich.

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Pretty simple ingredients for these little delightful puffs.

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This bread comes together very quickly then it gets covered with plastic wrap for a little over an hour.

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After the dough has risen it gets cut into 5 portions and then each portion gets rolled into a log.

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Roll into ping pong sizes balls, cover and let rest for another 30 minutes

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Flatten a little in your hand and then roll out to about 4″ oval. Put the chopstick (or other round object) across the circle and fold over.

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Put the folded pieces of bread on 4″ squares of parchment paper and put on cookie sheet to rest again.

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Put in steamer basket about 4-5 each layer, do not overcrowd. If you don’t have a steamer basket, google how to steam without one. There are several ways you can do it.

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Put the cooked steam buns on a clean towel and cover until ready to use or use them right away.

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You can serve pork belly like this or crisp it up more in a skillet (I did).

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Use either Kirby or English cucumbers or even the small pickling cucumbers will work.  Slice into 14″ pieces.

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Add the sugar and salt.

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Toss until everything is coated, cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Left overs can be put in a jar and will last a week.

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Yum. If I do these again, I will crisp the pork belly more. I added a drizzle of sweet soy glaze to the finished sandwich.

Momofuku’s Steamed Buns

1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. active dry yeast
1 1/2 c. water, at room temperature
4 1/2 c. bread flour
6 Tbsp. sugar
3 Tbsp. non-fat dry milk powder
1 Tbsp. kosher salt
Rounded 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/3 c. rendered pork fat or vegetable shortening at room temperature, plus more for shaping the buns, as needed

Combine the yeast and water in the bowl of a stand mixer outfitted with the dough hook. Add the flour, sugar, milk powder, salt, baking powder, baking soda and fat and mix on the lowest speed possible, just above a stir, for 8-10 minutes. The dough should gather together into a neat, not-too-tacky ball on the hook. When it does, lightly oil a medium mixing bowl, put the dough in it, and cover the bowl with a dry kitchen towel. Put it in a turned-off oven with a pilot light or other warmish place and let rise until the dough doubles in bulk, about 1 hour 15 minutes.

Punch the dough down and turn it out onto a clean work surface. Using a bench scraper or a knife, divide the dough in half, then divide each half into 5 equal pieces. Gently roll the pieces into logs, then cut each log into 5 pieces, making 50 pieces total. They should be about the size of a ping-pong ball and weigh about 25gm. Roll each piece into a ball. Cover the armada of little dough balls with a draping of plastic wrap and allow them to rest and rise for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut out fifty 10cm squares of parchment paper. Coat a chopstick with whatever fat you’re working with.

Flatten one ball with the palm of your hand, then use a rolling pin to roll it out into a 10cm-long oval. Lay the greased chopstick across the middle of the oval and fold the oval over onto itself to form the bun shape. Withdraw the chopstick, leaving the bun folded, and put the bun on a square of parchment paper. Stick it back under the plastic wrap (or a dry kitchen towel) and form the rest of the buns. Let the buns rest for 30-45 minutes: they will rise a little.

Set up a steamer on the stove. Working in batches so you don’t crowd the steamer, steam the buns on the parchment squares for 10 minutes. Remove the parchment. You can use the buns immediately (reheat them for a minute or so in the steamer if necessary) or allow to cool completely, then seal in plastic freezer bags and freeze for up to a few months. Reheat frozen buns in a stovetop steamer for 2-3 minutes, until puffy, soft and warmed all the way through.

Note Reprinted from Momofuku ($65, hbk) by David Chang and Peter Meehan. Copyright © 2009.
This recipe is from the June 2010 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller.

Quick and Easy Pickles

4 medium Kirby cucumbers (about 13 ounces) (or English cucumbers)
7 tsp. granulated sugar
1 Tbsp. Kosher salt

Cut the cucumber into 1/4-inch-thick slices and place in a large nonreactive bowl. Add the sugar and salt and stir to combine. Place the cucumber mixture in a quart-sized resealable container, cover, and refrigerate 5-10 minutes. for at least 1 hour. (The pickled cucumbers can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.)

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