Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Babysitter Cooks

Momofuku pork buns

P10106674pork bunsThe Momofuku cook book that my daughter bought after she went to the restaurant in New York last year was filled with great recipes. I particularly liked this pork buns recipe. I already posted my version of pork buns in the past but I was intrigued by the photo of happy faces accompanying the recipe in the book. I decided I wanted to be happy too or maybe I was simply hungry.
On the first day, I made the buns. The process is not that difficult but with children to watch while cooking it is very hard. I was interrupted many times by my 4 year old and 10 month old grandchildren for their needs! How dare they! What am I? A miracle worker? I finally put the 10 month old down for his nap while the dough was raising then, and the 4 year old wanted to watch a show on the computer. I told her “I don’t know the password” (actually, I’m not a computer savvy person). She brought my cell up to my ear and told me to call her mom (my daughter). I warned her beforehand that her mommy is very busy and probably would not answer the phone, but she did. I got the password, started the computer yet I could not find the cartoon she wanted to watch. I wished strongly that my daughter had a TV. I ran next door for help! A university student came over and found some cartoon for her to watch. Even after all that, the dough is not yet doubled in size. I sat down on the couch just for a few minutes then woke up half an hour later. When the dough was ready for the next stage, the baby woke up. By the time I fed the baby, gave him a bath and changed his diaper, the dough was over raised but hey, you can’t win with a hungry baby. At the near-final stage of making buns, the 4 year old wanted to help. After a few instructions, she made neat buns -- I was impressed. Encouraged, she decided to make other shapes as cookies for her mom and dad.  Those are not cookies, silly!

Steamed buns - supposedly makes 50 buns but I only got 45P1010640

  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 1-1/2 cups water, at room temperature
  • 4-1/4 cups bread flour
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons non fat dry milk powder
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/3 cup lard or vegetable shortening
  1. Combine the yeast and water in the bowl of a stand mixer outfitted with the dough hook. Add the flour, sugar, milk powder, salt, baking powder, baking soda and lard or shortening and mix on the lowest speed possible for 8 to 10 minutes. Lightly oil a medium bowl, put the dough in it. Cover the bowl with dry kitchen towel and let rise until it doubles in bulk, about 1 hour 15 minutes.
  2. Punch the dough down and turn it out onto a clean work surface. Using a pastry cutter or 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 size of a Ping-Pong ball and weigh about 25 grams. Cover the armada of little dough balls with a draping of plastic wrap and allow them to rest and rise for 30 minutes. P1010625
  3. Meanwhile, cut out fifty 4-inch squares of parchment paper. Coat a chopstick with whatever fat you’re working with.
  4. Flatten one ball with palm of your hand, then use a rolling pin to roll it out into a 4 inch long oval. Lay the greased chopstick across the middle of the oval and fold the oval over onto itself to form the bun shape. Withdraw the chopstick, leaving the folded dough, and put bun on a square of parchment paper. (I just greased it, without the chopstick because the chopstick was sticky.) Stick it back under the plastic wrap. Let the buns rest for 30 minutes. Here she is wearing the tie dye shirt she made yesterday.P1010627
  5. Set up a steamer on the stove. Working in batches so you don’t crowd the steamer, steam the buns for 10 minutes. Remove the parchment. If you can’t use the buns immediately, allow to cool completely, then seal in a plastic freezer bag and freeze for up to a few months. Reheat frozen buns in a stove top steamer for 2-3 minutes, until puffy, soft and warmed all the way through.P1010637

Pork belly

  • 3 pound slab of skinless pork belly*
  • 1/4 cup of kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  1. Put the pork belly into an oven safe pan that holds it snugly. Mix the sugar and salt together in a small bowl and rub all over the meat discarding any excess. Cover the container with plastic wrap and put it into the fridge for 6 to 24 hours.P1010642
  2. Preheat the oven to 450 F. Drain off any liquid in the container and put the pan of pork in the oven, fat side up. Cook for 1 hour basting with the rendered fat after 30 minutes, until it is golden brown.
  3. Turn the oven down to 250 F and cook for another hour to an hour and 15 minutes, until the pork belly is tender. Remove the pan from the oven and transfer to a plate. Allow it to cool. P1010649
  4. When it is cool enough to handle, wrap the pork belly in plastic wrap or foil until it is thoroughly chilled and firm.
  5. Cut the pork belly into 1/2 inch thick slices that are about 2 inches long.
* I only found it with the skin on and already sliced. It is easy to trim the skin off before cooking.

Quick salt pickles

Slice 2 cucumbers into 1/8 in thick disks.
Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of sugar and 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and toss to coat. Let sit for five to ten minutes.P1010647


Buns, pickles, pork belly, hoisin sauce, thinly sliced scallion
Heat the buns in a steamer until they are hot to the touch. Take the bun from the steamer and flop open on a plate. Slather the inside with some hoisin sauce using a pastry brush, arrange the pickles on one side of the fold and the pork belly on the other. Scatter the belly and pickles with the scallion and fold closed. Pick up and enjoy!2pork buns

Steamed Bun (Baozi, 包子)
My 4 year old granddaughter loved the buns, especially with sweet jam. She ate most of her creations at one sitting. What? I thought those were for her mom and dad.
He has a great personality with super nice smile. I will definitely miss my grandchildren. 
I love you very much, kids.


  1. This is a really sweet post! I get a bit teary eyed reading it. Your grandkids are adorable. Now I miss my mom...

  2. My mom was such good help when she stayed with us, hoever she des not cook. Not only does she not cook but she could care less about food. I would spend hours making something and often times she'd just open the fridge get a jar of mayo and spread some on white bread and sit on the couch and eat that for dinner. It was totally depressing. however, she was most excellent with my kids and always kept the house super clean.

    I want pork belly. I can't find any here unless it's huge. I mainly just want the skin from the pork belly.

    Your buns look great. The whole sandwich looks amazing.

    I bet Mariko and the kids are going to miss you so much too.

    ps. We're going to Oregon in July. Can we come visit you guys for a weekend? Also, you and Mariko should come to BlogHer with me in san Diego.

  3. Dear Christine Wu, Thank you for the kind comment.
    My grand children are really cute in person too. I miss my mom too.

    Dear Damaris, You're mom sounds so cute! I'm excited see you and your family in July. I'm sorry about delay in reply, I have been very busy lately. Thanks for your comment.

  4. This is great! I made some pork belly over the weekend and was thinking...this would be awesome with the bun and now I have it!!! Thank you~

  5. Thank you Kelly. I'm going to make this tomorrow too because my husband and my son want to have for dinner. I will use less salt next time for pork belly.

  6. I made the steamed buns this evening, and my husband and I loved them! Thank you so much for a wonderful recipe and the lovely story that goes with it.

  7. Dear Amanda K, Thank you for your kind comment. I'm so glad to hear that you like it.