Thursday, June 27, 2013

Steamed Pork Buns

Sweet and Spicy Pork Belly Steam Buns
Yield: 4 servings, 10 buns
Prep time: 1 day
Cook Time: 4 1/2 hours

     This week a friend of our chef is throwing a block party and wanted to serve hand held food from different cultures around the world. Our suggestion was the traditional Chinese steamed bun. The buns are a great summer appetizer because they are light yet bursting with flavor and can be filled with any type of meat or vegetables that you like. Our steam buns are filled with succulent confit pork belly that has been cured overnight in herbs and spices and topped with char sui sauce. For your next get together try these pork buns out on your friends, you won't be disappointed.

Pork Belly Dry Cure
     1 qt kosher salt
     1 cup sugar
     2 cinnamon sticks
     1/4 cup allspice berries
     1/4 cup coriander seed
     2 ea star anise
     2 bay leaves
     1/4 cup fennel seed
     1/4 cup black peppercorns
     2 ea cloves
     3 garlic cloves
     5 sprigs rosemary
     5 sprigs thyme
Confit Pork Belly
     3 lb pork belly
     1/2 gal veg oil
     1 head garlic, split crosswise
     1 cup ginger, sliced
     1/2 bunch scallion          
Plated Steam Buns
     8 steam buns or lily buns
     confit pork belly, chilled, cut into slabs 3/4 inch thick x 2 in x 2in
     1 cup char sui glaze
     1 cup sliced radish
     1 cup cilantro leaves

1. Starting a day before you serve the steamed pork buns,combine all the pork cure ingredients in a large bowl. Pour half the pork cure in the bottom of a baking dish, lay in the pork belly and cover with the rest of the cure. Wrap the baking dish in plastic and refrigerate for 24 hours.
2. After 24 hours remove the pork from the cure and rinse thoroughly under cold water.
3. Preheat the oven to 275 F.
4. In a deep baking dish or dutch oven combine the oil, garlic, ginger, and scallion.
5. Lay the pork belly into the oil mixture, making sure it is completely submerged. Cover with aluminum foil and and cook for 4 hours. (The belly is cooked when a fork can be inserted into it with no resistance.)
6. Once cooked remove the belly from the oil and cool on a sheet tray in the refrigerator.
7. After being cooled remove the skin from the pork belly and slice into portions.
8. When ready to serve, steam the lily buns until softened and hot. To hold warm wrap in damp paper towel.
9. Heat a few teaspoons of oil in a saute pan and sear the pork until heated through. Lay one slice of pork into each bun, then top with sauce, cilantro, radish, and serve.

Chef's Note
     To create these pork buns the recipe requires a few Asian ingredients that may not be familiar to many cooks. Lily buns or stem buns are eaten all over china and can be filled with any type of meat or vegetables. They are traditionally made with wheat flour and can be found in many grocery stores as a frozen product. Once steamed they are very springy and soft and should be handled carefully. To keep them warm and moist once steamed wrap them in damp paper towel until ready to serve.
     Char Sui sauce is a sweet and salty sauce that is called the Chinese barbecue sauce. Traditionally this is not a sauce but a reference to the finished pork roasted with this sauce. It is now available in a jar in most grocery stores and largely produced by Lee Kum Kee.  If Char Sui is unavailable it can be recreated using hoisin sauce mixed with a little honey, soy sauce, and mirin.

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