I was on a cooking binge… and made a bunch of stuff. I made two braised dishes for my Daring Kitchen Challenge (whoops! Still need to post about it!!!). I also attempted to make David Chang’s Momofuku Pork Belly Buns. It required me to work with pork belly… which was a new cut of meat for me to deal with.
A quick trip to Ranch 99 and I came back home, armed with a chunk of Wilbur’s tummy. I had to sharpen a good Shun knife to carefully de-skin the belly (which I later turned into Chicharones), brined the belly with equal parts of Kosher salt and sugar, and tucked it into my fridge to marinate overnight. The next morning, I pulled out the luscious hunk of belly, high-heat roasted it to render out the fat, and then on low heat, slowly confit-ed the pork belly in its own fat and juices… Pulled it out, wrapped it up while it was still warm and chilled it in the fridge to make slicing easier.
Once it chilled, I sliced it up, and got them toasting to rewarm in my new LC skillet. It turned out really well since the enamel on the inside prevented the pork belly from burning and yet the heat managed to render out more fat before we ate them. The best part was that it got certain parts of the pork belly slice nice and crispy-toasted. MMM!!!
I got my buns and set up my ghetto steamer and made the pickles. The quick pickle cucumber is a dish that I grew up eating since my grandmother would pickle cucumbers like that and toss with sesame oil and some reconstituted wakame for a quick salad. In case you’re wondering… my ghetto steamer was Hubs’ old Ranch 99 wok with a toaster oven roasting rack put in there… It did the trick… the buns came out hot and fluffy!
I also shredded up some green onions to add in there… A smear of hoisin sauce, a luscious piece of pork belly, cucumber pickles, some green onions, and a light squeeze of Kewpie Mayo a la Ippudo NY style.
Hubs said I could do a throwdown with Chairman Bao… I think these were probably one of the best pork belly buns I’ve had. Reheating the pork slices in the cast iron skillet really made a HUGE difference. It rendered out more fat so the actual buns weren’t as greasy, and it really added another flavor and texture dimension by making the edges nice and crunchy. MMMmmmm….
I highly recommend the Momofuku cookbook, either on Amazon or from your local library. I feel bad for re-posting his recipes here since I didn’t even buy the book and I went the cheap route and borrowed it from the library but a quick Google and you’ll find the recipe for the pork belly.
As for the pork skin… a good restaurant kitchen is amazing at using up all their odds and ends so nothing goes to waste. The pig skin that was sliced off got turned into chicharones. It spent a good portion of the day “dehydrating” in my convection oven at 170F until it dried up into this gross plastic-y thing… which was broken into little pieces and fried. I tossed them in a mixture of green and red japanese chili pepper, white pepper, and kosher salt. They were definitely delicious-y crunchy. Hubs loved them with some cold beer. It was a LOT of work to make these…I’d recommend people to make this once… just so you can see the skins puff up in the hot oil – it really was trippy! In terms of time/work, if I ever got the hankering to eat fried pork skins, I think I’ve seen them for sale at the Mi Puebla across 101.