Hi Everyone! :) It's Vicky again... blogging about my gluttony up here in the Wonderful SF Bay Area. For some time I thought I fell off the face of the earth!
Taiwan is well known for a type of "sandwich" where a fluffy slightly sweet steamed bun (think a la Peking duck bun) that's filled with a thick slice of stewed pork belly, pickled mustard (suan cai), cilantro, and a sprinkling of ground peanut and sugar. It's called a "Gua Bao" and you can find it all along the streets throughout the island country.
It used to be really hard to find these pork belly buns here in the states but in the last 5 years, it seems like everyone has their own version of it. Momofuku (NYC), Ippudo (NYC), random izakayas here and in the SF Bay Area, there's even a food truck that sells buns like hot cakes named "The Chairman" (play on words with Chairman Bao).
The concept of these buns are pretty easy to make and this past weekend I whipped up a large batch of them using David Chang's Momofuku recipe as inspiration. I brined a large pork belly after removing the skin, roasted it on high heat to render out the fat and then switched to low heat to let it slowly confit in its own juices and fat. Chilled, sliced, steamed some buns, added in some quick pickles, shredded green onions, smudge of hoisin sauce and a squirt of kewpie mayo. Voila! Luscious pork belly buns at home.
Mix the salt, sugar, and 5 spice powder together and dissolve in the water. I use the lazy method and toss everything into a large gallon sized ziplock bag and shake. Put the pork belly in and squeeze out all the air in there and let it brine overnight in the refridgerator.
Preheat the oven to 400, remove the pork belly and wipe dry. Place in a roasting pan and roast the belly at 400 for an hour and then turn the temperature down to 250 for another 2 hours. The belly should plump up and per Momofuku, "feel pillowy."
Let it cool down and wrap it in a sheet of saran wrap and chill in the refridgerator so it can be easily sliced.
Slice the pickles and toss in the sugar and salt mixture. Let it sit for about 20 minutes and then rinse. Do a quick 5 minute soak in fresh water to remove the excess saltiness. Squeeze dry and set aside.
Slice the pork belly into slices and reheat on a good cast iron pan to crisp up the edges, steam some store bought buns, shred green onions, and get the hoisin/kewpie ready. Put a dollop of hoisin on one side of the bun, tuck in the hot pork belly slices, squirt some kewpie on there and top off with the shredded green onions and enjoy!