It was a much anticipated affair when Momofuku Seiobo opened at Sydney’s newly refurbished casino, The Star in October 2011.
What’s all the fuss you might ask? Well it is Korean-American celebrity chef David Chang‘s first restaurant foray into the southern hemisphere. Since opening his first restaurant, Momofuku Noodle Bar in Manhattan in 2004, he has successfully opened a string of restaurants which include Momofuku Ko in New York City that won two Michelin stars in 2009 which it still maintains todate.
It is no wonder that when Momofuku opened its doors at The Star’s glamourous location, local foodies and the media were working up a food frenzy.
“Momofuku” means “lucky peach” but this may not be the defining point of the restaurant. If you are trying to get a table there, bookings can only be made online. For a new customer, you need to open an online account with the restaurant and they only take bookings ten days in advance including the current day.
I have not been to this Sydney restaurant. At $175 for approximately thirteen dinner courses that take approximately two hours to complete , I am a bit over this kind of fuss and am certainly in no hurry to go.
Mysaucepan, however, can’t wait to go. Having given up asking me to tag along, she decided to replicate one of Chang’s most talked about dishes for a friend’s house-warming party.
Pork buns are actually a traditional Northern Chinese delicacy and Mysaucepan loves these delightful pockets when she was growing up and recalls her mum making them during special occasions like Chinese New Year.
Her mum’s version is based on the traditional Northern Chinese pork buns, which are sandwiched with meltingly tender soy braised pork, mushroom and Chinese lettuce.
However, David Chang has given his own twist to these traditional buns by roasting the pork belly and pairing it with siricha chilli sauce for a bit of his Thai/Korean flavour, sweet hoisin sauce with crunchy slices of cucumber wrapped in a soft and warm steamed bun.
These buns are easily available pre cooked and packaged in Asia. However in Sydney, they are not as easy to track down. Determined to get the real deal, Mysaucepan sets out to find a recipe to make her own buns at home. “The buns must be very soft and fluffy”, she says.
“Not only that, I think the pork belly has some interesting spices and it sounds really good”, she adds.
I have heard some positive comments as well about the pork buns so I am keen to see what the fuss was all about.
“Why not, at least we can share that decadent and heart-attack slab of pork belly with all those unsuspecting bunch of foodies”, I replied gleefully.
So here it is, Momofuku pork buns, adapted from recipe at Momofukufor2.com.
Momofuku pork buns
Ingredients (Serves 12 people as entrees)
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
4 1/2 cups bread flour
6 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 cup melted butter or canola oil
1. Mix the yeast with warm water in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook.
2. Add the other ingredients and mix on the lowest speed for 10 minutes until it gathers into a neat ball on the dough hook.
3. Remove the dough and place in a lightly oiled big bowl and cover with a dry kitchen towel and let it rise in a warm place near the stove or oven for 1 hour until it doubles in size.
4. Once it has doubled in size, punch the dough down and divide in half, then divide each half into 5 equal pieces.
5. Gently knead each piece into a log and divide into 5 pieces creating 50 pieces which should weigh about 25g each.
6. Roll each piece of dough into a golf ball and cover with plastic wrap or tea towel and let it rise for 30 minutes.
7. In the meantime, cut out 10cm squares of baking paper. Once the dough has risen again, flatten each ball of dough with your palm then roll out into a long oval using a rolling pin.
8. Lay an oiled chopstick across the middle of the dough and fold over creating a pocket bun. Slide onto the baking paper and cover. Once you have formed all 50 buns, let them rise for another hour.
9. To steam the buns, place them with their baking paper on a bamboo steamer and steam over medium heat for 10 minutes till light and fluffy.
1 – 1.5kg piece of pork belly with rind on
1/4 cup salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon five spice powder
1 tablespoon cinnamon powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1. Score pork skin at 5cm intervals against the grain with a sharp knife against the grain.
2. Place the belly in a roasting pan, skin side up. Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl and rub the mixture over the pork. Cover the roasting pan with plastic wrap and place in the fridge overnight.
3. On the next day, remove excess liquid that has accumulated in the roasting pan, rinse and dry thoroughly with paper towel.
4. Preheat the oven to 230 degrees Celsius and place the belly back in the pan, skin side up, and cook for 1 hour to ensure perfect crackling, basting halfway through the hour with the rendered fat, until the belly is golden brown.
5. Turn the temperature to 120 degrees Celsius and cook, partially covered with aluminium foil for a further hour until the belly is tender.
6. Take the pork out the oven and let it cool slightly. Slice them along the scored surface into thin slices. You can also chill in the fridge for 30 minutes to allow for easier slicing and pan fry them when ready to serve.
1 cucumber, sliced thinly
1/2 cup hoisin sauce
1 stalk of spring onions
siricha chilli sauce (optional)
To assemble the buns, smear a tablespoon of hoisin sauce, place 2 sliced cucumbers, a slice of pork belly, with crackling and top with spring onions. Sandwich and savour every mouthful!
This is actually quite a fun and exciting recipe when preparing a lot of steam buns for home entertaining.
These pork buns are quite delicious. All credit to Mysaucepan who managed some really soft and fluffy buns from the steamer that I am happy to dunk into a good curry sauce as an alternative.
The buns taste like a cross between a char siew bao (steamed buns with BBQ pork) albeit with crispy pork crackling and a Peking duck wrap with a warm and soft bun instead of its usual wafer thin pancake.
They are also great for entertaining guests because it is interactive and I always find it exciting for friends to be able to assemble their own wraps or buns.
So dear readers, would you try making this bun at home or would you prefer to sample it at Momofuku Seiobo?
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