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

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

 
 
 
 
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  1. 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

      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

        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

          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

            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

              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

          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

            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

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

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

                1. 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

                    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

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