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Momofuku's Pork Belly Buns - You can make them at home too! (esp. for MMRuth!) Pics included

k
kobetobiko Jul 30, 2008 07:45 AM

Hi Hounds,

I came across the recipe of making the extremely popular Momofuku's pork belly buns online. While I am not an avid cook, this recipe is extremely easy to make and the result was surprisingly good! Here is the link to the recipe:

http://www.gourmet.com/recipes/diaryo...

Now, I have to admit, I cheated and didn't make the buns myself. In Manhattan (where I live), the buns are readily available in Chinatown. So to save some energy, I purchased my buns and focused all my attention to the pork belly. As you can see from the recipe, it is relatively simple and anyone (like myself) can do it. It is easy because you don't really need to do anything while the brining and the cooking take place. All it takes is time and patience.

I have to say, this was probably one of the best home cooking I had done (not that I have done many) and really turned out very close to the real deal. A few suggestions I gathered from my "experiment":

CHOOSING THE PORK:
- Choose a really good quality pork belly. Since there is minimal seasoning in the meat, a good quality pork belly will make a BIG difference in taste. Mine was Niman Ranch pork belly (purchased at Whole Foods). Next time I may try Berkshire Kurobuta pork belly (if I can find it)

- Choose a piece of pork belly with some "thickness". Mine was a little too "thin", and the meat did shrink after brining and cooking in the oven. I think the result would have been better if the meat was thicker (meaning each layer of the fat and meat was thicker.

SERVING:
- When serving, definitely place only the buns that you need for one time out, and keep the rest in the steamer. While pork belly slices were fine sitting out, the buns turned cold very quickly and became very chewy. Take what you need at one time, and do it again when finish.

- Play around with it! As you see in the picture, we didn't assemble the pork buns completely (which was what they did in Momofuku's restaurants) before we served them. Instead we put everything as a platter and let the diners assemble their own pork buns. Sort of like the "do-it-yourself" fajita party, but we did it with the much better pork buns! It was really fun! I can totally see this becoming a party dish.

- Lastly, we also served the pork buns with kimchi! Of course the choices of condiments are endless - pickles, jalapenos, whatever you like.

I hope you will try out this recipe soon!

If Chang can cook, you can too! :D

Edit: Oh I almost forgot:
1) My leftover pork belly slices were kept for 2 days and they still turned out great! Just reheat it in the oven as the recipe mentioned
2) KEEP THE DRIPPING! I put the dripping (liquid fat) in a ramekin and put it in the frigde. Yesterday I mixed them with some plain noodle, sweet soy, and scallions, and wow! It was REALLY GOOD! :D

 
 
 
 
  1. MMRuth Jul 30, 2008 07:49 AM

    That's great - thank you - where did you buy the buns, and what are they called? (Maybe you could post on the Manhattan board?) My husband will be thrilled. Well, I am too!

    8 Replies
    1. re: MMRuth
      k
      kobetobiko Jul 30, 2008 07:57 AM

      Hi MMRuth,

      I just added two more notes in my post in case you missed them.

      I bought them in Chinatown. I found two versions, one was from Deluxe Food Market (79 Elizabeth St) where they have some big ones at the bakery section. Then there were some smaller ones at Po Wing Hong Food Market (49 Elizabeth St) that were frozen. The latter was the ones that I used. they were as fluffy as the ones at Momofuku (ok, they charged $9 for two, so the quality should be better :P). I was just too lazy (and had no confidence) to make the buns from scratch. Since you are a seasoned cook, may be you can try make your own~

      Next time I may try the ones at Deluxe and make a comparison.

      1. re: kobetobiko
        Miss Needle Jul 30, 2008 08:33 AM

        I wouldn't worry too much about making the buns yourself as I think David Chang outsources his buns. I've read some reviews that the recipe he provided for the buns just don't work. I think he just provided a bun recipe because a lot of readers don't have access to them. The closest buns were from May May bakery which closed down -- actually, May May's buns were identical. That's why I was so obsessed with finding those buns earlier:

        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/480922

        I'm glad that you've discovered this. It's really a simple recipe, and I've been doing this for some time. Beats paying $9 for two small buns and your friends will think you're a genius. : )

        1. re: kobetobiko
          MMRuth Nov 13, 2008 09:48 AM

          I'm going to marinate tonight! I'd bought a beautiful 1 pound piece of pork belly at the Farmers' Market on Saturday, but then saw this thread again about using a thicker piece, so I stuck it in the freezer. Yesterday I found a beautiful (and much cheaper) slab of pork belly at a Latin market in Westchester - 2.5 pounds for about six dollars! Now I just need to track down the non-fat dried milk for the pork buns, which I am going to try to make.

          1. re: MMRuth
            Miss Needle Nov 14, 2008 06:16 AM

            Just wanted to mention that I've read a few comments saying that the epicurious recipe for the buns doesn't work very well. You may want to follow the David Chang - Martha Stewart one, which is different.

            http://www.marthastewart.com/recipe/b...

            1. re: Miss Needle
              MMRuth Nov 14, 2008 06:18 AM

              Oh - that's good to know - thank you. I may buy some in Chinatown tomorrow as a back up too.

              And, I won't need to track down the dried milk that I won't use for anything else that is called for in the other recipe.

        2. re: MMRuth
          beetlebug Jul 30, 2008 08:14 AM

          I remember that Miss Needle had a thread on the Manhattan Board. No clue about the title. But, the inquiry was about where in Manhattan or OB could she find buns similar to the ones at Momofuku. I also have a vague memory that the restaurant's source is somewhere in C-town.

          The thread was still active the first week of June (I saw it when I was scanning the Manhattan board).

          1. re: beetlebug
            MMRuth Jul 30, 2008 08:22 AM

            That's right - thanks!

            http://www.chowhound.com/topics/480922

            I had read that before and ended up confused, I think, about what I'd actually be looking for!

            1. re: beetlebug
              Miss Needle Jul 30, 2008 10:16 AM

              Ha -- seems that we've cross-posted (or more likely with all the glitches Chowhound has been having, your posts didn't come up when I posted).

              Hannaone, I think the daen jang will be awesome in it as well. I also think it would taste great with a recipe similar to Lisa from Top Chef for her miso-glazed bacon. I've also tried making it with Shanghainese style red-cooked pork belly which turned out well too.

              But Chang's recipe is really simple and idiot-proof. I don't really eat that much pork, but make it because DH enjoys it so much. Last few times, I kept asking him if he wanted some of those Momofuku buns, and he kept saying no. I was a bit surprised as I thought he enjoyed them. Turned out that he kept saying no because he thought it was too much work for me. When I told him how simple it was, he quickly changed his no to a yes!

          2. hannaone Jul 30, 2008 09:43 AM

            That recipe looks good.
            I would probably use what is called Ogyepssal (5 layer meat) in Korean markets for the pork belly as it has a bit higher meat to fat ratio, and would probably fare better in the oven than the standard 3 layer
            And since I nearly always play with my food, would probably try to tweak it by adding some doenjang (miso) to the brine.
            I see some pork belly rolls in my near future.

            1. lynnlato Jul 30, 2008 09:49 AM

              Many thanks, kobetobiko! The pics are fabulous, too. Makes me want a pork bun ummmm, now.

              1. tracylee Nov 13, 2008 06:10 PM

                Ack, all I could think of was Char Siu Bao, clearly not the same thing.

                1. Carb Lover Nov 14, 2008 07:52 AM

                  Wow, I'm glad this old thread got bumped back up. How did I miss this before? Those look like the best sandwiches ever...

                  Has anyone else (MMRuth?) tried the recipe?

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Carb Lover
                    MMRuth Nov 14, 2008 08:30 AM

                    I'm actually going to brine over night and make tomorrow for a small dinner I'm having. Keep your fingers crossed for me and I'll post back on Sunday.

                    And, yes, they are pretty much one of the best sandwiches ever. Last time we were there, we even got an order to go that I ate for breakfast the next day.

                    1. re: MMRuth
                      Carb Lover Nov 14, 2008 08:59 AM

                      Ooooo, keep us posted w/ lots of your lovely food porn, er, I mean photos...

                  2. MMRuth Nov 16, 2008 03:57 AM

                    Well, many thanks to kobetobiko for posting this recipe, and to CarbLover for suggesting I use the bun recipe posted on Martha Stewart instead. It was a success!

                    I had bought a one pound piece of pork belly at the farmers' market, but when I looked at kobetobiko's post, I realized that it would be too thin. So, when I happened to be at a Latin market in Westchester this week, I saw some beautiful pork belly, and bought a 2.5 pound piece (which is what is called for in the recipe) that was much thicker than the first one I bought.

                    I brined it on Friday night (forgetting to cut it up into four pieces first). The next morning I cut it up, added water and chicken stock to a pyrex brownie pan, and braised it in the oven for 2.5 hours, covered with foil. You then turn up the heat to 450, uncover, and cook for another 20 minutes. One piece had a very nice crispy layer of fat at that point, but the others didn't, so I removed the one piece and left the others in for another 10 minutes. Then cooled, and sliced. I found it difficult to slice, and the lovely crispy fat made it more difficult, so I removed that layer of fat from each piece, and my husband will have a nice treat today! So, my pieces were not nearly as pretty as kobetobiko's.

                    The buns - well, I was wary, as I'm not much of a baker. I made the full batch, which makes 30 buns (next time I'd cut it in half). My kitchen aid, which is pretty heavy duty, was not happy about kneading the full amount, so I took out half the dough, and let the machine do it's thing for 8 minutes. Then put in oiled bowl, covered, and let rise. The machine was still hot, so I just kneaded the other half by hand, and did the same. It was actually probably better to have two batches in the works. You are then, after 2 hours, supposed to roll out the dough into a 30" 'tube', so I rolled out my half batch to 15 inches, and sliced them up. They then rest for 40 minutes, and then you roll them out into ovals, brush with grapeseed oil, fold in half (it says to use chopsticks - I used my hands), then place on a square of parchment paper (note - it takes a lot longer to cut out 30 squares than you might think!), cover and let rest 30 minutes, then steam!

                    I used my wok to steam them them, with a steamer insert, not my bamboo steamer, and was able to do six at a time. I was so nervous to lift up the lid after 10 minutes, but, there they were, steamed buns. So, I kept going, wrapping the done ones in dish towels to keep them warm. Shortly before our guests were arriving it occured to me that maybe we should actually taste these things, just in case (my back up plan, in case of abysmal failure, was to make summer rolls with the fillings). So, I had a bite, my husband (who early made the mistake of agreeing with me that the buns weren't so pretty) had a bite, and he pronounced them better than the ones at Momofuku. You may want to take that with a grain of salt, given the previous misstep, and the fact that the only other steamed buns he's ever had are the Momofuku ones. In any event, they were pronounced good to go.

                    I preheated the oven to 350, put in the sliced pork for 20 minutes, and then buns in for 15 - two packets of five each, wrapped in a dampened dishtowel, then loosely wrapped in foil. Then, I assembled five of them - brush on Hoisin sauce, add pork slices/chunks, some sliced cucumbers and julienned scallions. They seemed kind of big, particularly since I had lots of food for the main course, so I served just the five for the five of us, with Hoisin sauce on the side. Well, they disappeared immediately, and I quickly went into the kitchen, and unwrapped the still warm second package of buns, and made another five. Our guests have never had these before, but one of them announced that this is the best pork item he's ever put in his mouth. His 12 year son made no proclamation, but the smile on his face, and his fingers mopping up what little juice there was on the plate said it all.

                     
                     
                     
                     
                    10 Replies
                    1. re: MMRuth
                      MMRuth Nov 16, 2008 04:00 AM

                      One more photo - not great photos, but was snapping on the fly due to guests, while my husband explained this nightly ritual in our home.

                       
                      1. re: MMRuth
                        Carb Lover Nov 16, 2008 04:54 AM

                        Looks amazing, MMRuth! I have got to make these soon! I should have bought some pork belly when I was at the Asian market after dim sum yesterday. Darn. I am so impressed w/ your beautiful steamed buns! BTW, I believe it was Miss Needle who tipped you to the Martha recipe and not me. Thanks for your report.

                        1. re: Carb Lover
                          MMRuth Nov 16, 2008 05:06 AM

                          Ah - yes it was - thanks Miss Needle!

                          1. re: MMRuth
                            Miss Needle Nov 17, 2008 11:17 AM

                            You're welcome! Wow! Your buns look amazing! It's inspiring me to try to make them at home.

                            1. re: Miss Needle
                              MMRuth Nov 17, 2008 11:22 AM

                              Two things I wanted to add:

                              1. If you steam the buns in the wok the way I did, make sure the buns don't touch the wok - I didn't think of that, and a couple of them had crispy spots on them.

                              2. I have a little pork leftover after serving ten filled buns, but there is no way that the pork recipe would fill 30 buns unless you were really, really stingy with the pork. Next time I'm just going to make half the bun recipe.

                              1. re: Miss Needle
                                The Dairy Queen Nov 17, 2008 11:44 AM

                                Agreed--awesome! I too, am inspired!

                                ~TDQ

                        2. re: MMRuth
                          Gooseberry Nov 18, 2008 02:39 PM

                          This does look amazing, if labour intensive.

                          I slow roast pork belly without brining it, and it turns out wonderfully moist and flavourful, so I might just do this with my usual pork belly recipe.

                          I was surprised that Asian flavours were only introduced at the end, with the addition of hoisin sauce, and not in the brine or cooking liquids.

                          1. re: Gooseberry
                            jeniyo Nov 18, 2008 03:45 PM

                            This sounds great and it makes me wanna have chinese food.

                            We eat these bread "gua bao" for breakfast and sometimes in parties. In resturants, they also like to serve them with peking duck skins and hoisin sauce. mmm...

                            My mom usually marinades/brines her bellies in a bit of rice wine, soy sauce, a little sugar, pepper and a blend of 5 spice powder (cinnamon, cloves, aniseed, coriander, fennel - blends vary) for a day. Then we would heat up a pan with some oil, put on an apron, and sear the skin side till bubbly and crispy of the belly before the roasting/ braising. This helps make the skin taste more caramelized and "not as oily".

                            this is the way my family makes them and i hope everyone enjoys their bellies! Makes sure it is well chilled before slicing though cause those things get soft!

                            ditto on the pork fat noodles. the drippings are always a hit when we were kids. I also recommend a poached egg on top and it makes it taste like Chinese carbonara... hope this don't sound weird.

                            we use a lot of 5 spice powder for meat roasting/braising.

                            1. re: jeniyo
                              Gooseberry Nov 19, 2008 12:20 AM

                              Now that's what I'm talking about!

                          2. re: MMRuth
                            scoopG Nov 30, 2008 02:38 AM

                            Thanks for posting this and the great photos! I'll have my hands full trying to make this!

                          3. beetlebug Nov 29, 2008 05:22 AM

                            I made these yesterday and they were delicious. A lot easier than I expected. Also, the dough recipe is very forgiving because I know I did it wrong AND they were kind of funny looking.

                            I bought my 2.5 lb pork belly at the chinese grocery store. I only noticed the bones in it after the brining and braising. Consequently, my cuts of pork were pretty messy. But who cares, since it's delicious, fatty pork belly. Damn, that pork is tasty.

                            I had problems with the dough. This is the first time that I used the dough hook in the KA mixer. I halved the recipe and the dough didn't really come together. It was too dry. So, I added a bit more water and it seemed to do the trick. But, it still didn't seem right. The dough ball never quite smoothed out (the way bread dough does) and it still seemed to be on the dry side. I don't think I kneaded it enough.

                            More problems, although, quite minor. I rolled the dough into a 15 inch log. I could see the uneveness in the dough since it wasn't kneaded completely. When I sliced it, I sliced the chunks too big so I ended up with 12 pieces instead of 15.

                            Last bit of problem. I have stackable chinese steamers and only two buns fit into each steamer. Since the dough wasn't kneaded properly, the buns weren't as smooth, light and fluffy as they should have been. They also weren't completely white, there were some tanish areas that looked undercooked. But, I steamed the buns longer than called for since they were a bit bigger.

                            All in all, it didn't matter. Once the pork belly, scallions and hoisin sauce were in the buns, the whole thing came together.

                            For those of you who haven't made dough before, try this one. As I've shown, it's a forgiving recipe and it's pretty darn impressive to serve as well.

                             
                             
                             
                            7 Replies
                            1. re: beetlebug
                              MMRuth Nov 29, 2008 06:34 AM

                              Gosh I want to make these again! I think you right about the kneading ... I'm not a bread making expert, though. Did you knead in the machine for the 8 minutes? I did just a quick hand kneading after that. I know I'm rather anal retentive about some things in the kitchen, so I keep a small sewing ruler in the kitchen, to measure things like this.

                              1. re: MMRuth
                                beetlebug Nov 29, 2008 07:02 AM

                                I did knead on the machine for about 8 minutes. I think the problem is that since the dough was on the dry side, it didn't come together properly, pre-kneading. There were a lot of little side balls and pieces. The dough wasn't one piece.

                                I'm not an expert bread maker. The only bread I've made is no knead bread (so I am used to really wet, smooth dough). But, this dough, it just didn't look right to me. Too lumpy, too dry, and too many separate little pieces that I smooshed into the main ball.

                                1. re: beetlebug
                                  MMRuth Nov 30, 2008 03:10 AM

                                  You know, now that you mention it, I think I thought the same thing, and added a little water.

                                  1. re: MMRuth
                                    beetlebug Dec 1, 2008 07:00 AM

                                    I just compared the bun recipes from Martha Stewart and Gourmet (both linked above). The MS recipe has considerably less water proportionate to the amount of flour than the Gourmet one. I went with the MS recipe bc of MMRuth's success and Gourmet had an ingredient that I would never use again (dry milk, I think).

                                    Even though I added more water, it still wasn't enough since it wasn't as smooth as it should have been.

                              2. re: beetlebug
                                Gooseberry Nov 30, 2008 10:34 PM

                                Mmm, it sounds like the cut of pork belly my butcher gives me. If it is - rib bones underneath - try to think of it as different layers, to be cut and served differently. I carve by removing the crackling, scraping off any left over jelly-like fat underneath, and then, if it's cooked fully (for your size pork belly, I'd roast it in the oven, uncovered, for 2-2 1/2 hours at 150 celsius) you should be able to peel the layer of meat off the ribs, cut that against the grain, then split the ribs individually. We actually really like to gnaw on the ribs on the side. It's like three types of pork in one roast!

                                1. re: Gooseberry
                                  beetlebug Dec 1, 2008 07:01 AM

                                  It was still delicious. When I sliced the pork belly, I did slide the bones out and gnaw on them. The only "problem" with the bones, is that my slices weren't as pretty.

                                2. re: beetlebug
                                  b
                                  babyjolie Feb 19, 2013 09:03 PM

                                  Did you forget to bloom your yeast? Did you temp your water? Is your kitchen cold? Did you wait for all of the rest times for the dough to proof?

                                3. r
                                  RPMcMurphy Nov 29, 2008 06:25 AM

                                  I also did these yesterday with a piece of leftover pork belly I had hiding in the fridge....it, unfortunately was a VERY weak cut of pork belly, but I figured, for experimentation, it was perfect.

                                  I was lucky enough to decide on already made buns at the Asian superstore for 1.49 or buy a few ingredients I didn't have and then realize I can't bake/pastry.

                                  Here are all of my pictures.
                                  http://randallpmcmurphy.blogspot.com/...

                                  take note of the directions on the back of the bun bag!

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: RPMcMurphy
                                    MMRuth Nov 29, 2008 06:36 AM

                                    Yours look great too, and I love the directions on the bag! Did you score the fat on your porkbelly before hand? It looks like it and if so, that's very clever and I'm going to do that next time.

                                    1. re: MMRuth
                                      r
                                      RPMcMurphy Nov 29, 2008 07:39 AM

                                      I did, mainly because of the crappy cut of pork belly i was using. but i'll do it with a good cut too. Just remember that the skin shrinks to almost half its size!

                                  2. dryrain Jul 23, 2011 12:34 PM

                                    I am going to try and make this pork next week. So is the recipe no good from david chang for the buns? What about the martha stewart recipe which someone posted has anyone tried making those?

                                    I was also wondering about the cooking time for the pork. it seems to be high for quite a long time does the meat not dry out and get tough on the outside?

                                    I think these buns could also work well with shanghai braised pork belly has anyone tried it with that?

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: dryrain
                                      p
                                      potato or yam Jul 23, 2011 05:05 PM

                                      I think the recipe most people have had problems with is the bun recipe posted on Epicurious. I made the buns using the recipe from the Momofuku cookbook and they turned out really well. If you don't have the cookbook the recipe should be pretty easy to find online, I've seen it in several blog posts (and I think some newspaper articles).

                                      1. re: potato or yam
                                        twyst Jul 23, 2011 05:23 PM

                                        the momofuku cookbook also states that its not worth it to make the buns. Momofuku doesnt make their own even though they have a recipe in the book. Just buy them frozen, they steam up in 10 minutes and are indestinguishable from home made. I'm al;l for home made stuff most of the time, but frozen buns are just as good, if not better, than homemade.

                                        1. re: twyst
                                          j
                                          janeh Jul 24, 2011 09:09 AM

                                          I've made the Momofuku bun recipe several times - it's very good and not difficult. The recipe is fairly labor intensive but makes about 50 buns, which I wrap individually and freeze. We used some last week with some left over chicken, scallions, cucumbers and hoisin...quick, easy, delicious supper.

                                        2. re: potato or yam
                                          dryrain Jul 24, 2011 03:04 AM

                                          I bought the book last year and will try making these in the next few weeks, thanks

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