“This dish is inspired by the mega chef and all-round good guy David Chang from Momofuku. These wicked buns are one of his most popular dishes, yet he’s totally humble about them – tender pork belly, simple wheat buns, pickles and sauce are ultimately the sum of them, but they’re delicious. You’ll need to start this the day before. ”
1 kg strong white bread flour , plus extra for rolling
1 teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 tablespoon sugar
100 ml rice wine vinegar
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Make your buns a day in advance (re-steaming them before serving). Melt the butter. Put the yeast in a large bowl with 450ml warm water and leave for a few minutes to do its thing.
Mix in the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, 2 tablespoons of sea salt and the melted butter until it all comes together, then knead for 10 minutes to a silky dough. Place in an oiled bowl, cover and leave in a warm place to prove for a couple of hours.
Once the dough has doubled in size, knock it back on a floured surface. Split it in half, then, using your hands, roll each into equal-sized logs.
Cut each into 20 small, equal pieces (I find it easiest to cut each into 4, then those smaller pieces into 5). Roll each piece of dough into a ball and place on a lined baking sheet. Cover and leave to prove again for 30 to 45 minutes.
When the buns have risen, knock each back with the palm of your hand, then, using a rolling pin, roll into oval shapes about 12cm long.
Coat a chopstick with a little oil, place in the middle of each bun and fold it over.
Place a bamboo steamer on a pan over a medium heat and line with greaseproof paper. Steam the buns (in batches) for 10 to 12 minutes, or until light and fluffy.
Leave to cool, then cover and chill overnight. You could make them even further in advance and freeze them until needed.
You also need to marinate the pork overnight. Mix the sugar, peppercorns, star anise and a good pinch of salt in a shallow glass dish or bowl, add the pork, then cover with water. Turn the meat to coat it, then cover and chill overnight.
When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 150ºC/gas 2.
Transfer the pork to a roasting tin with the marinade and cover tightly with tin foil. Cook gently for 2½ to 3 hours, or until tender but not coloured. Remove the meat to cool, leaving the marinade in the pan.
Put the pan of marinade on the hob over a medium-high heat for 20 to 25 minutes, or until syrupy.
Cut the cooled pork into 10 slices, 1cm thick, return to the marinade and set aside.
Next, make the pickle. Score the cucumber by running a fork down the length of the skin, all the way round.
In a serving bowl, dissolve the sugar in a splash of boiling water, and top with the rice wine vinegar. Finely slice the cucumber into rounds, add to the vinegar and leave to marinate.
When ready to serve, place a pan over a high heat and get your steamer ready. Fry the pork slices for 5 to 10 minutes, turning halfway, until golden and sticky, then cut each into quarters.
Trim and finely slice the spring onions, then trim and finely slice the chillies.
Steam the buns for a few minutes until warmed through, then assemble with the pork, pickle, and a sprinkle of spring onions, the cress and chilli.
Delicious served with a range of sauces, such as hoisin, BBQ, ketchup and brown sauce.