Momofuku's Pork Buns

By • April 28, 2014 • 54 Comments

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Author Notes: Adapted from Momofuku by David ChangMerrill Stubbs

Makes about 25 buns

Pork Belly and Quick-Pickled Cucumbers

  • 6 pounds skinless pork belly
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 thick Kirby cucumbers, cut into 1/8-inch-slices
  1. Put the pork belly in a roasting pan that holds it snugly, fat side up. Combine 1/2 cup salt and 1/2 cup sugar in a small bowl and rub all over the pork. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours, and no longer than 24.
  2. Heat the oven to 450ºF. Discard any liquid that has accumulated in the roasting pan and put the pork belly in the oven. Cook for 1 hour, basting it with the rendered fat halfway through, until it's golden brown.
  3. Turn the oven temperature down to 250ºF and cook until the pork is tender, another 1 hour and 15 minutes or so. Transfer the pork to a plate, decant the fat and the meat juices from the pan and reserve it for the buns. Allow the pork to cool slightly.
  4. When it’s cool enough to handle, wrap the pork in plastic wrap or aluminum foil and put it in the fridge until it’s thoroughly chilled and firm. (You can skip this step if you’re pressed for time, but the only way to get neat, nice-looking slices is to chill the belly thoroughly before slicing it.)
  5. Combine the cucumbers with the remaining sugar and salt in a small mixing bowl and toss to coat. Let sit for 5 to 10 minutes. Use right away or refrigerate for up to 4 hours.
  6. When you're ready to make the buns, cut the pork belly into 1/2-inch-slices about 2 inches long. Warm them in a pan over medium heat for a minute or two, until soft and heated through. Use the pork right away.

Pork Buns

  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 4 1/4 cups bread flour
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons nonfat dry milk powder
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, rounded
  • 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
  1. Stir together the yeast and 1 1/2 cups room temperature water in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the flour, sugar, milk powder, salt, baking powder, baking soda and fat and mix on the lowest speed setting for 8 to 10 minutes. The dough should gather together into a ball on the hook. Lightly oil a large bowl and put the dough in it, turning it over to coat it with the oil. Cover the bowl with a dry kitchen towel and put it in a warm place and let the dough rise until it doubles in size, about 1 hour 15 minutes.
  2. Punch the dough down and turn it out onto a clean work surface. Using a sharp 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 25 grams each. Roll each piece into a ball and set them on baking sheets. Cover them loosely with plastic wrap and let them rise for 30 minutes. While they're rising, cut out fifty 4-inch squares of parchment paper.
  3. After 30 minutes, use a rolling pin to roll each ball into a 4-inch-long oval. Brush lightly with vegetable oil, lay a chopstick horizontally across the center of the oval and fold the oval over onto itself to form a bun. Gently pull out the chopstick, leaving the bun folded, and transfer it to a square of parchment paper. Put it back under the plastic wrap and form the rest of the buns. Let the buns rest for 30 to 45 minutes: they will rise a little.
  4. Set up a steamer on top of 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 or allow them to cool completely, then put them in plastic freezer bags and freeze for up to 2 months. Reheat frozen buns in a stove top steamer for 2 to 3 minutes, until puffy, soft, and warmed all the way through. Freeze half the buns in airtight bags for another time.
  5. Open a warm bun and spread about 2 teaspoons of hoisin sauce on the inside. Add 2 pieces of pork belly, then a couple slices of pickle. Add a scattering of scallion and a squirt of sriracha if you like. Repeat with the remaining buns, and eat!
Jump to Comments (54)

Comments (54) Questions (1)

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27 days ago MLF

I just made this tonight and it was amazing! I found the cure to be a little too salty though - I would suggest to lessen the salt vs. sugar. Also added a dash of vinegar to my cucumbers to make it pickled. Delish!

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29 days ago MLF

I don't have dried milk powder and don't want to buy an entire box for just 3 Tbsp. Is there a replacement I can use, or is it safe to take it out of the recipe?

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28 days ago Detrishious

If you go to a bulk store you can buy as much as you need. I didn't think of that before I bought a box myself. Good thing it stores well :)

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4 months ago Suz

I have been searching for a good steamed bun recipe, thank you!

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5 months ago walkie74

I screwed up both the buns (the yeast died) and the pork belly (too much salt), but then tried a second time and everything went well. It took a while, but it was totally worth every minute. And the best part is, I didn't have to waste the pork belly-- my husband discovered that it made a fantastic substitute for bacon bits on his Caesar salad. He even started eating one of the buns by itself, with no belly. Great work, Merrill!

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5 months ago 3Fleets

This was quite a project but so worth it! Opening the steamer to those happy little buns, parchment waving at me in slo-mo.... I do have to say my husband thinks this recipe is part of my campaign to off him. Salty and fatty and good!

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5 months ago BH

I made these and will probably never make another bread/bun recipe again. The friends that I had over "freaked out" when they had these. I am a "bread-aholic" and I think that these are the one ..

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5 months ago Faith Martin

Can you use the frozen bread dough for the buns? Just thaw, rise, shape then rise again??

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5 months ago LindaS

I don't have a mixer with a dough hook. What else can I use to make the dough?

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5 months ago Kathy

thank you

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5 months ago Derek Crayton

your hands, but don't overwork the dough

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5 months ago LindaS

OK thanks Derek. These sound so yummy so I will definitely give them a try.

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5 months ago Robert

Recipe for the bun is right above these comments! They split the recipe in 2 parts.

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5 months ago Kathy

so....where's the recipe for the bun itself ?

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5 months ago Vickie

These are called Manapua in Hawaii where I am from. Street vendors and most Chinese stores sell them by the dozen. I love them, love them, and it is the one food most Island people miss the most next to local saimin and Portuguese malasadas or doughnuts.

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5 months ago peachinina

can these be baked if steaming is not an option?

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5 months ago peachinina

HELP, SOMEONE!!

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5 months ago Derek Crayton

how is there no vinegar or acid involved in pickled cucumbers?....which btw is called a pickle

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5 months ago PeterL

A pickle does not necessarily have to have vinegar. This would fall under the heading of a brine.
http://www.merriam-webster...

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5 months ago Derek Crayton

salt+sugar=cure

Merrill

5 months ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

I'd ask David Chang. (I'm sure he had a reason.)

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5 months ago George H

I believe this is a street food in Taiwan. Not sure about other places in Asia though.

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5 months ago PeterL

These were phenomenal. The buns didn't come out as snowy-white as i remember them from the restaurant but the taste was the same.

Bravo!

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5 months ago Detrishious

I served them with quick pickled carrots, red onion, golden and chioggia beets and a salad of greens and shredded kale with a light miso maple ACV drizzle. Yum!!

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5 months ago Detrishious

Absolutely worth the effort. Thanks for posting this!!

Merrill

5 months ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

You're very welcome! What did you end up serving with them?

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5 months ago BH

in all reality, not much effort involved, just some time, but the opportunity-cost is well worth the repetition ..

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6 months ago Detrishious

Pork Belly is in the oven. Started Mothers Day Dinner prep early!
Any one have some ideas for good sides with these?
Many Thanks!

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6 months ago Jarrett B

The pork belly I found was in pieces, so I bought 6 pounds in a about 8 pieces. Will that affect the cooking time?

Merrill

6 months ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

Yes, it will. I'd cook it for about half the time, but make sure to check it to be sure it's cooked.

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6 months ago Jarrett B

Thank you so much - worked out perfect and they were a big hit!

Merrill

6 months ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

Glad to hear it!

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6 months ago PeterL

Do you rinse the cure from the pork belly before roasting?

Merrill

6 months ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

No, you don't need to.