pork belly Tag

DIM SUM MONTH: PORK BELLY BUN W/ PEANUT BUTTER AND CAPER

DIM SUM MONTH CONTINUES…

WHAT:  Super cute and tiny steamed buns stuffed with braised pork belly, pan-fried capers and smooth peanut butter.

WHY:  It’s pork bun in baby form!  It’s pork bun in two-bites size!  It’s pork bun but pop-able!  Dispute settled.

HOW:  The idea is to create an over-the-top, porky, fatty and gooey bun-tasy with a built-in acidic element to balance it all out, and this is what came out on the other side.  Inspired by traditional Taiwanese guabao (which is the former life of David Chang’s infamous “pork bun”), the pork belly is first braised with aromatics and spices until melty and tender, but instead of ground peanuts that’s used in guabao, smooth peanut butter is being introduced.  Just when pork belly and peanut butter – both fatty, gooey and intense – are locking tongues in your mouth, the taste buds get a sharp and pleasant zing of acidity and pickle-ness from pan-fried capers, all swirling and dancing inside this slightly sweet and chewy dough.  What’s more wrong?  Eating just one or more?  I can’t decide.

By the way, most of the recipes in DIM SUM MONTH is designed to be prepared ahead of time.  Make each items and store them in the freezer, and at the end of the month, we’re going to have a dim sum blowout party.  See ya!

PORK BELLY BUN W/ PEANUT BUTTER AND CAPER

Yield: 17 buns

Ingredients

    BRAISED PORK BELLY:
  • 17.6 oz (500 grams) skin-on pork belly
  • 4~5 (40 grams) scallions, cut into short sections
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 tbsp (20 grams) light brown sugar
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup (60 grams) shaoxing wine, or rice wine
  • 1/4 cup (60 grams) soy sauce
  • 2~3 bay leaves
  • 2 star anise
  • 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
  • DOUGH:
  • 2 cups (250 grams) bread flour
  • 3 1/2 tbsp (50 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp (3 grams) instant dry yeast
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup (147 grams) water
  • FILLING:
  • 1/4 cup drained pickled capers
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp rice vinegar
  • smooth peanut butter

Instructions

  1. PREPARE PORK BELLY: Cut the pork belly into 1" (2.5 cm) dices, set aside. In an oven-proof pot, heat vegetable oil and cook the scallions until browned all over and shriveled, then remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the diced pork belly and cook until the edges are slightly browned and some of the fat is being rendered out. Pour all the fat out of the pot, then add the light brown sugar. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the edges of the pork belly and the sugar are caramelized. Now add the scallions back in along with garlic. Cook for 1 min until fragrant, then add shaoxing wine, soy sauce, bay leaves, star anise and ground cinnamon. Bring to a simmer, put the lid on, then transfer into a 300 F/150 C oven. Give it a stir every 30 min, and cook for about 1:40 ~1:50 hour until it's melty tender (if it looks like there's no more liquid left at any point during cooking, just add a bit more shaoxing wine).
  2. Remove the bay leaves and star anise, and skim off most of the fat off of the surface. Then transfer into an air-tight container and chill until completely cold, at least 6 hours or overnight.
  3. PREPARE DOUGH: In a stand-mixer with dough-hook, combine bread flour, granulated sugar, instant dry yeast, salt and water. Knead on medium speed until incorporated, then turn to high speed and knead for 10 min until extremely smooth and elastic. The dough should pull away cleanly from the sides and bottom of the bowl during mixing, but should be soft and pliable. If it's sticking to the bowl during mixing, add more flour. If it feels stiff and dry, add a bit more water. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until fully doubled, about 2~4 hours depending.
  4. MAKE THE BUN: In a small skillet, combine drained capers, vegetable oil, sugar and rice vinegar. Cook on medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until the capers are slightly browned and shriveled. Set aside to cool completely.
  5. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and fold it over itself a couple times, then divide into 17 equal portions. Tuck each portions under itself to shape into a tight ball, then let rest and relax for 10 min. Take a small saucer about 2 1/2" in diameter, then place 1 dough ball inside. Use your fingers to press and spread the dough outwards until it drapes over the edges with a dent in the middle (the edges should be slightly thinner than the center). Place 1 piece of braised pork belly in the middle, 6~7 fried capers, and a little less than 1/2 tsp of smooth peanut butter. Bring the sides of the dough together and pinch to close tightly. Repeat with the rest.
  6. You can freeze the buns now until hard, then keep in an air-tight bag until needed. If you're freezing them, take them out 6 hours before serving. Place each on a small piece of parchment paper, cover with plastic-wrap, and let thaw and proof until almost doubled (about 80%). If your place is warm and the buns are rising too fast, simply place them in the fridge to slow down. If you are not freezing the buns, it will only take about 1~2 hours for the to almost double.
  7. Place in the steamer and steam on high heat for 7~8 min.
https://ladyandpups.com/2017/02/28/dim-sum-month-pork-belly-bun-w-peanut-butter-and-caper/
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LISBON, PLUS SURF’N TURF PORK BELLY AND SHRIMP SAUSAGE SANDWICH

After what seemed as long as forever, but now, feels as short as a blink of an eye, five weeks of traveling in and out of 6 different countries, I am now, finally, back home.

It is difficult, if not impossible, to sum up a journey as long as this one in one post.  It began in Hong Kong, then Taipei then back to Hong Kong, then it departed towards London, then Madrid, and Lisbon, then finally, passing by Germany, back to Hong Kong, then back to Beijing.  It was a zig-zaging montage of cityscapes, sounds, smells, flavours, stimulations… but also disorientations, sense of aimless drifts, dubbed by a relentless seasonal flu somewhere at end.  How do I tell such a story I have no clue.  I suspect I would be inadequate but I shall try.

I shall try, starting with Lisbon.

Why Lisbon?  I don’t know.  I guess there are moments in life that didn’t feel particularly monumental at the times, but somehow, years and years later, they stay with you whenever you feel like looking back.  Lisbon, in the best sense, felt as such.  There are cities where we go to feel the future.  New York, London, places that strut at the tip of our times, erecting glories built in glasses and steels, forward.  Lisbon, as rare as it is precious, is not that kind of city.  Lisbon, to me at least, comes into the scene as an ageing beauty.  Her allures permeates in a lingering perfume of melancholy, on the surface of every faded tiles, behind every half-closed wooden windows, cut deep into every folds of her stone-paved labyrinth.  She is old.  She is complicated.  There are a lot of bygone glories, loss and pain in her untold stories, some remembered only objects that cannot speak.  I found myself striken by a sense of wounded dignity at her unguarded moments.  In fact, sometimes  her unpolished cheeks marked with spray paints and the crumbling of her once beautifully tiled facades, like a ripped silk dress, made me feel impolite to stare.  But, I guess, that’s why Lisbon felt so unique.  Holding her own, almost carefully, with a flustered sense of self-esteem… she sits quietly, a city by the sea.

A place like her leaves an impression.  She made me wonder about the life she’s had.  She made me want to dig deeper.  She made me wanna do things that I’ve never done to any other places, beyond the politeness of walking through her streets and allies, beyond gorging the foods that she cooked.  I wanted to get more intimate.  Closer.  I wanted to hear her sing.  And if there’s one thing that I think you should do in Lisbon, however cheesy it may be, you should hear Lisbon sing.

And she sings Fado.

OF COURSE, WE HAD TO FINISH THE MEAL WITH A SANDWICH.  WE JUST HAD TO.  THAT’S HOW IT’S DONE.

BUT THIS TIME, WE WEREN’T SORRY THAT WE DID

First of all, it might help to mention that I am not a music person.  I have almost zero song downloaded to my smartphone, and in the 7 years I’ve dwelled in New York, a trip to New Orleans, I have never stepped a foot inside a jazz bar.  Curried goat, yes, but Bob Marley who?

So no, I don’t usually do this.

But to come to Lisbon without listening to a bit of fado, a music as burnt into the soul of this country as anything can hurt, is a regret that I wasn’t planning to walk away with.  However, before I go on, I warn you, that a fado experience in Lisbon can prove to be borderline awkward if you have some kind of personal distance-issues.  Chances are, as we were, you’d be seated on a stool tucked in between the elbows and knees of total strangers, so crowded it’d be difficult to reach down to your phones to take a selfie.  Chances are you’d be forced to share foods, and drinks, too, oh hell, conversations even.  If you got problems with any of those things as I almost do – oh fuck did I mention that they smoke indoors, too – chances are, it would be uncomfortable.

But again, chances are, you would regret it if you didn’t.

A young woman in her 20’s came into the tiny spot reserved for performers, professionals and amateurs alike.  Carried only by a couple of guitarists sitting a feet away, she started singing… no, more like… pouring her heart out on the floor.  There was so much passions, longings and losses that I felt through a song that I didn’t understand.  Her body moved like a stringed puppet, cringed, shaken, pulled by the very own emotions in the melody that she sang.  Her voice, at times almost inaudible, at times piercingly loud, communicated words without any translations.  It felt… brave, almost, bleeding this much feelings to a wall of strangers staring within an arm’s length.  Just when I thought I got a sense of what fado was, after her, came an old man in his 80’s.  He was more talking then singing, waving and pointing his hands in every possible gestures, sometime as if in an argument, sometime as if in mourning.  It was comical but not funny.  It was crude but endearing.  I can’t say I know fado, but if you ask me, the beauty of it is not in the perfection of vocal skills, but in the generosity of common strangers, singing their hearts to you on a sleeve.

We left the bar a bit in awe, with a couple of new German friends who were forced to share their chorizos with us.  Walking home on her crooked slopes echoing her voice in heart-strung melodies, Lisbon felt more mysteriously beautiful than before I got to know her.

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THE VAMPIRE SLAYER RAMEN-EXPRESS

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CALL IT, THE RAMEN WITH 40 CLOVES OF GARLIC… WAIT.  44 CLOVES.

SOMETIMES, and for the sake of modesty not all the times, but sometimes, after I pasted every photos of a recipe in place and started to stare into space thinking about what I was gonna say… I thought to myself, seriously?  You fucking need a reason to eat this?

Uhem, just sometimes.

But well, today, happens to be one of those times.

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FIRE AND ICE, AND EVERYTHING NICE

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the refreshment of slippery noodles in an icy tangy broth… gliding down with sizzling pork fat on a stick.

 

BEST ARGUMENT A SUMMER CAN HAVE.


SEEMINGLY, if you think that I have lost my mind and regards to the diversity of this blog somewhere in the frozen land of popsicles, gelato and gelato plus slushy cocktails, here’s a proof that… you’re absolutely correct.  These days, I feel as much desire to be in close proximity to open flames as there is to a screaming baby on an airplane.  Even with evident love for a bowl of hot and slurpable fire, these days I want my dinner to feel as close to a cold shivering shower as it can get, and believe it or not, it can.

Allow me to present evidence from our last two years in New York where we had the pleasure of visiting Fort Lee a few times, aka the better Korean Town just across the Hudson from Upper Manhattan.  Before such trips, I thought I could be happily-ever-after with Manhattan’s functioning K-town with its satisfactory BBQ following an affordable eyelash-extension.  But Fort Lee had ruined such ludicrous fantasy with delicious aggression.  The variety of dishes served there isn’t too different, but with just an extra pinch of much-ness that kicks them from good, to great.  And among which, the glorious mul Naengmyeon was unlike any I’ve ever had.

It means “cold noodle”, but boy is that an understatement.

Apart from dishes with the same claims, mul naengmyeon has kicked the word “cold” to a new level.  Instead of mixing noodles that are cooled after cooking with various sauces, it plunges them into an icy bath of broth made from beef and pickling juice that is chilled to a borderline frozen state.  As I swam my chopsticks through the frosty lake of flavours, I could hear the sound of slushes colliding in a refreshing symphony.  The buckwheat noodles were cold, chewy and slippery, gliding effortlessly into my properly chilled tummy with the savoury and tangy broth, topped with more pickles and thinly sliced pear and cucumber.

It is not a summer dish.  It is the summer dish.

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X’MAS MORNING JERK-SPICED PORCHETTA

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I recently took a class from Harvard called Science and Cooking.  I did it without ever taking an SAT exam or having an IQ above 140, all while wearing my slouchiest PJ and tucked in the comfort of my bed with a can of soda and a tub of gummy bears on the side, and burnt through 5 lectures straight in 1 week…  Oh God bless bootleg DVDS.  I was once again basted in the youthful hunger of my tender college years when hope was alive and the world was shiny…, as well as the exact reason why… I slept through half of it.  Dude, there’s something about the echo? bouncing off the lecture hall?… that’s 10x more potent than sleeping pills on the deepest cellular level and sends me into a baby-state coma.  But relax, I still overheard something in between my wee-wee breaks to share with you all.

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pork belly shiso yaki

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Before I met Beijing, there was another affair I had a brief, bitter-ending engagement with and his name was I believe, Hong Kong.  We spent an abusive 18 months together right after New York… ah New York.  It was such a transcendent love, great love, Mr. BIG-GREAT that anyone else who followed was predetermined to never live up.  Without the enlightenment of other perspectives, I couldn’t love a city with EVEN SMALLER living-square footage than New York… EVEN MORE CROWDED streets than ant-hills, EVEN UGLIER buildings than Taipei and many many EVEN-MORE-NESS to feel sorry for myself about.  Like I said, I had no perspective.  I had no idea that Hong Kong was already Aidan.

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Belly Full Pumpkin

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(Chinese versions coming soon)

I’m staring and thinking about what I’m gonna say and… drawing blank.  I wish I have personal, wild stories to share about my Halloweens but the truth is, it is scarce.  Has my life been this pathetic (don’t answer that)?  So I did a psycho-analysis on my entire pathetic peculiar life so far on how I could possibly missed Halloween and drew this conclusion. First of all, Halloween is… not very happening in Taiwan, which was unfortunately where I wasted my prime-time-Halloween-peak-ages from 2 to 10 years old.  Then I moved to Vancouver when I was 12, an awkward age where I JUST missed the boat on getting away with dressing-up-and-asking-for-candy-is-cute.  And then came the teenage years which I consider to be the dark ages of Halloween because a dinosaur costume would be adorable retarded, but a slutty-anything costume would just be… sexy let’s just say raising concerns.

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I-Think-It’s-Asian Porchetta Sandwich

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(简体)(繁體)

Jason took a bite and asked me with his very “lardy” mouth, “Why is this Asian?”  Well… I suppose because… “The marinade.”  I answered affirmatively with secretly not-so-affirmative doubts.  I mean can I call it “Asian” because the pork marinade is mainly FISH SAUCE, and that there’s GINGER in the aioli, and that the chili is inspired by a HUNAN dish?  Yes.  Yes, I think I can.  So bear with me.  If there’s any dispute over how I name my articles, please do so kindly remember that I AM a self-proclaimed confused individual.  OR IF I’m just being self-consciously hypersensitive…  In that case, forget what I said and carry on.

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