Cooking for Clara

Momofuku's Pork Buns

By • April 29, 2014 • 33 Comments

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Merrill's daughter Clara has quite the appetite -- and it's all Merrill can do to keep up. Armed with her greenmarket bag, a wooden spoon and a minimal amount of fuss, she steps into the fray.

Today: Meet the best pork buns you'll ever have.

I know what you’re going to say. What parent in her right mind would consider David Chang’s iconic pork buns 1: kid food; and 2: something to be undertaken at home when you live in the same city as Momofuku?

I have solid arguments for both.

These buns have all of the characteristics that kids love: they’re salty and sweet and texturally interesting, they’re fun to look at and eat, and they involve pork belly, a close cousin of bacon. (In Clara’s world, there is never not a good time for bacon.)

More: If you really want to impress your kids, make your own bacon.

If your children are old enough, they can make the steamed buns with you. What’s more fun than little balls of dough you can smash and roll into funny shapes? And because the recipe makes so many of them, there’s lots of room for error.

As for the second point, when it comes down to it, these are just not that difficult. The pork belly is a set-it-and-forget-it situation, requiring more patience than effort. The quick-pickled cucumbers are ready in a flash, and then all that’s left are the buns -- both the most active and the most fun part of the recipe: once you get the hang of shaping the buns, it’s kind of cathartic to crank out the smooth little envelopes of dough.

Maybe the best thing about the buns is that after you steam them, they freeze like a dream. Which is why the recipe makes twice as many as you’ll need -- make 50 (ish), freeze half, and the next time the bulk of your work will be behind you before you begin.

Here’s a step-by-step on how to shape the buns:

After the first rise, divide the dough into 50 pieces, roll them into little balls, and let them rise again.

  

Roll each ball into an oval and brush with oil.

 

Lay a chopstick across the center and fold the bun in half over it.

 

Gently remove the chopstick and transfer the bun to a square of parchment for its last rise before steaming.

Momofuku Pork Buns

Momofuku's Pork Buns

Adapted from Momofuku by David Chang and Peter Meehan

Makes about 25 buns

6 pounds skinless pork belly
1/2 cup plus 4 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 cup plus 7 tablespoons sugar
2 thick Kirby cucumbers, cut into 1/8-inch-slices

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
4 1/4 cups bread flour
3 tablespoons nonfat dry milk powder
Rounded 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup rendered pork fat, bacon fat or vegetable shortening, at room temperature
Vegetable oil
1 cup hoisin sauce

1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions (green and white parts)
Sriracha, for serving

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by James Ransom

Jump to Comments (33)

Tags: cooking for kids, projects, diy, cooking with kids

Comments (33)

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7 months ago b lee

Thx for clarification. Will be making this soon.

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7 months ago b lee

Confused: Did you double recipe to make 50 buns or did you make 50 mini buns bc recipe states yield is 25 buns?? Thx.

Merrill

7 months ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

It's a little confusing, I know - slightly more clear if you click through to the recipe. The yield for the buns themselves is 50, but there's only enough pork belly and pickles for 25 assembled pork buns. I usually make the full bun recipe, then freeze half of the buns for another round of pork belly!

Mcs

7 months ago mcs3000

Love this, Merrill! I made these Momofuku pork buns and pancakes. Everyone - including the kids - inhaled them. Reminds me to make them again.

Merrill

7 months ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

Thanks!

Stringio

7 months ago Moni

All food is kid friendly, only in America is there a separate category. I'm Chinese Cambodian. I was raised eating the food my immigrant parents made for me and my siblings. That included pork buns which David Chang has beautifully mastered in Momofuku. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

Merrill

7 months ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

You're welcome! And I couldn't agree more.

Stringio

7 months ago lydia.sugarman

I think all food is "kid friendly" if you present it that way. What are people afraid of? Why is there so much discussion about and effort put into *hiding* vegetables? That's completely counter-intuitive to creating a real love of and appreciation for great food.

But, what do I know? I kept making my son try beets every six months "just in case you've changed your mind." Years later, as a professional chef in New York, one of his signature dishes was a luscious beet salad.

Merrill

7 months ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

Well said, and well done!

Capture_d%e2%80%99%c3%a9cran_2014-02-09_%c3%a0_19.21.19

7 months ago BONGO

Your steam buns look perfect, Merrill ! I have a tricky question for you : every time I make mine, they turn yellowy (and I don't like it, I would love them to be perfect puffy white). I tried the old trick consisting in adding some white vinegar to the boiling water when cooking them - but no effect. I actually think the problem might come from the powder milk I use which is French and, you guessed it, a bit yellow... Is the American one white ? Any idea what else it could be ? Thank you

Merrill

7 months ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

Yes, our milk powder is white, so I suspect that's your culprit...Do you have American friends who can send you some?

Steve_dunn02

7 months ago Oui, Chef

Let me know if you're looking to adopt, Merrill. I would be totally available to a Mom that cooks this dish for her kids!

Merrill

7 months ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

Ha! Nice to see you, Oui, Chef!

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7 months ago mc.farine

A beautiful recipe. I can't wait to try it! Just one question: when you say "bread flour", do you mean high-gluten (12 to 14% protein) or do you mean all-purpose (11.5%)? Some bakers use the name interchangeably and I always find it a bit confusing...

Merrill

7 months ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

Pretty sure they mean high-gluten flour, but the buns will work with AP as well. It's a forgiving recipe!

Stringio

7 months ago Conor Op

Instant or non-instant dry milk powder?

Merrill

7 months ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

I use non-instant.

Photo_on_2014-07-11_at_6.17_pm

7 months ago Shalini

Thank you!!! These little babies are one of my 8 year-old's favourite foods, too!

Merrill

7 months ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

You're welcome!

New_glarus

7 months ago AGIRLANDAPIG

We have these in our freezer right now! They do reheat very well. Always a crowd pleaser. They step by step images are very useful. I wish this was posted sooner!

Merrill

7 months ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

Glad you found the photos helpful!

Sausage2

7 months ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

You are a *good* mom. :)

Merrill

7 months ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

Thanks, Emily! :)

Meg_b_f52

7 months ago meganvt01

One of my favorite recipes of all time! And totally kid friendly with that nicely sweet hoisin and the fluffy buns :)

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7 months ago eelie

Anybody ever try a gluten free version of this? I'm assuming a typical GF AP mix won't work.

Merrill

7 months ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

I haven't, I'm sorry -- great question for the Hotline!

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15 days ago NemuiNeko

maybe this? http://www.kingarthurflour...

Mrs._larkin_370

7 months ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

These are awesome buns, Merrill. I made them using corned beef for St. Patrick's Day. So good.

Merrill

7 months ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

Great idea!

France

7 months ago Catherine Lamb

Also, these buns are delicious enough just to make on their own. They taste like lovely, yeasted air.

Afterlight

7 months ago Joy Belamarich

this made my day.

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7 months ago ATG117

why do you nee a chopstick to fold the bun in half?

Merrill

7 months ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

You probably don't NEED them, but they help form a neater crease, and you can stretch the dough slightly to make the two sides more even if you anchor the fold with something.