Momofuku Pork Buns at Home

After enjoying this famous appetizer at a Dave Chang‘s restaurant (Momofuku Ssam Bar) in New York City, I decided to recreate it at home. The Pork Buns are basically slices of pork belly tucked inside a steamed bun along with seasoned cucumber and scallion slices. The first time I made these, I slow cooked pork belly with onion, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, rice wine and sugar and used the reduced liquid for sauce. I bought frozen buns at a local Chinese grocery store. It was delicious and relatively close to the ones we had at his restaurant. When his cookbook was published, I was a bit surprised to see how simple the recipe was for this incredibly flavorful pork belly. It calls for only two ingredients (salt and sugar) for the pork. I made these pork buns two more times following his recipe (tweaked slightly) for my holiday parties. They were a big hit both times! My only problem was to keep people from eating too much before the main course.

Ingredients:
3 lbs pork belly
1/4 cup coarse salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 large onion*, sliced
2 tablespoons grated ginger*
3 scallions, thinly sliced

(*Chang does not use onion and ginger, but I think these add extra flavor to the meat while roasting.)

10 Buns (Chang, in his book, encourages to buy frozen ones from a Chinese grocery store.)

Pickled Cucumbers
2 Kirby cucumbers, cut into 1/8-inch thick slices
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoon rice vinegar*

(*I added the vinegar to add some acidity to the dish.)

Sauce
1 cup hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine*
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic*
1/2 teaspoon minced ginger*
1 tablespoon honey or sugar*

(*The hoisin sauce tasted much better with these ingredients I added.)

Place the pork belly in a roasting pan. Rub it with the grated ginger. Mix together salt and sugar and rub the mixture all over pork belly. Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours.

Preheat oven to 450.

Take out the meat from the pan and discard any excess liquid. Add the onion slices to the pan and then put the meat on top. Roast in the oven for an hour. Reduce the heat to 250 and roast for another hour until very tender. Cool and cut across the grain into 1/2-inch thick slices.

While the meat is roasting, prepare pickled cucumber by mixing the cucumber slices with sugar, salt and vinegar. Let it sit for 20 – 30 minutes.

In a small pan, mix the hoisin sauce with rice wine, garlic, ginger and honey and simmer for 10 minutes. Set aside.

Steam the buns for 3 to 4 minutes.
Spread the sauce on the inside of each bun. Top with 2 to 3 slices of pork, cucumbers and scallions.

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Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    Thank you! Pls. don’t ever stop posting. Everything sounds wonderful. As a Kor-Am mom, I’ve learned the basics from my mom and my mom-in-law but if I have not made something in a while, it’s great to have a go-to blog like yours with specific measurements and great ideas. Trying to cook healthier meals. BTW, where do you purchase your pork belly? I am in NOVA too, and I have not seen it as a whole slab at the korean grocery stores. Do you cut them yourself or have it pre-cut for you? Looks like about 1-2 cm thick?

    Appreciatively,

    another grateful Kor-Am mom in NOVA

    • Thank you for the good words! For this recipe, I used whole slabs and then cut across the grain, after cooking, into 1/2-inch thick slices. I usually get my meat from a Korean butcher shop called Wow Fresh Meat – 14215 Centreville Square Centreville, VA. But, most Korean supermarkets carry pork belly in both forms – whole and sliced. If you don’t see them, ask the meat department. Hope this helps. Please let me know if you have any other questions. Happy cooking!

  2. Anonymous says:

    perfect! thank you so much for the information. i’ve seen WOW F.M. will go there.

    another grateful Kor-Am mom in NOVA

    PS- tried 2 of your recipes already w/great results.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Great post, and I like your additions to the recipe. I was wondering where you bought the frozen buns? Even just a street name would help. They are a little hard to track down if you’re looking for plain ones without any filling. I’m hoping to make some for a party this weekend. Thanks!

    • I bought these from the Chinese supermarket that’s located in Merrifield/Falls Church, VA. It’s near the Gallows Rd. and Lee Hwy intersection. Hope you find them somewhere.

  4. I love these buns, though I’ve had to make them as I couldn’t find frozen ones. I’v never tried his pork belly recipe before, but you make it sound so good, I’m defintely making this one day.

  5. Hello! These look delicious! I just put the meat in the fridge to chill. However could I let it chill for more than 6 hours? I’m a busy bee so the next possible cooking times after 6 hours would be when the meat has already rested for 9 hour or 19 hours. I was wondering if 9 or 19 hours of refrigerating it would be too long. Please get back to me even if you’re late. Aha so I will know in the future. :)

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