DIY Food

Momofuku's Pork Buns

April 29, 2014

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.

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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

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A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).

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  • Long
  • b lee
    b lee
  • mcs3000
  • Moni
  • lydia.sugarman
I'm a native New Yorker, Le Cordon Bleu graduate, former food writer/editor turned entrepreneur, mother of two, and unapologetic lover of cheese.


Long January 4, 2015
The fat. Do you have a preference? Have you tried them all? Any noticeable difference?
b L. May 3, 2014
Thx for clarification. Will be making this soon.
b L. May 3, 2014
Confused: Did you double recipe to make 50 buns or did you make 50 mini buns bc recipe states yield is 25 buns?? Thx.
Author Comment
Merrill S. May 3, 2014
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!
mcs3000 April 30, 2014
Love this, Merrill! I made these Momofuku pork buns and pancakes. Everyone - including the kids - inhaled them. Reminds me to make them again.
Author Comment
Merrill S. May 2, 2014
Moni April 30, 2014
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.
Author Comment
Merrill S. April 30, 2014
You're welcome! And I couldn't agree more.
lydia.sugarman April 30, 2014
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.
Author Comment
Merrill S. April 30, 2014
Well said, and well done!
BONGO April 30, 2014
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
Author Comment
Merrill S. May 2, 2014
Yes, our milk powder is white, so I suspect that's your culprit...Do you have American friends who can send you some?
Oui, C. April 30, 2014
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!
Author Comment
Merrill S. May 2, 2014
Ha! Nice to see you, Oui, Chef!
mc.farine April 30, 2014
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...
Author Comment
Merrill S. May 2, 2014
Pretty sure they mean high-gluten flour, but the buns will work with AP as well. It's a forgiving recipe!
Conor O. April 29, 2014
Instant or non-instant dry milk powder?
Author Comment
Merrill S. May 2, 2014
I use non-instant.
Shalini April 29, 2014
Thank you!!! These little babies are one of my 8 year-old's favourite foods, too!
Author Comment
Merrill S. May 2, 2014
You're welcome!
AGIRLANDAPIG April 29, 2014
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!
Author Comment
Merrill S. May 2, 2014
Glad you found the photos helpful!
fiveandspice April 29, 2014
You are a *good* mom. :)
Author Comment
Merrill S. May 2, 2014
Thanks, Emily! :)
meganvt01 April 29, 2014
One of my favorite recipes of all time! And totally kid friendly with that nicely sweet hoisin and the fluffy buns :)
eelie April 29, 2014
Anybody ever try a gluten free version of this? I'm assuming a typical GF AP mix won't work.
Author Comment
Merrill S. May 2, 2014
I haven't, I'm sorry -- great question for the Hotline!
NemuiNeko November 10, 2014
maybe this?
mrslarkin April 29, 2014
These are awesome buns, Merrill. I made them using corned beef for St. Patrick's Day. So good.
Author Comment
Merrill S. May 2, 2014
Great idea!
Catherine L. April 29, 2014
Also, these buns are delicious enough just to make on their own. They taste like lovely, yeasted air.
Joy B. April 29, 2014
this made my day.
ATG117 April 29, 2014
why do you nee a chopstick to fold the bun in half?
Author Comment
Merrill S. April 29, 2014
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.