I saw a version of the famous Momofuku’s pork buns on Food52 a couple months ago and swooned. The only problem was that the recipe for the steamed buns calls for milk powder and bread flour, neither of which I have, as well as pork belly, which I’ve never cooked before. When I saw Red Shallot Kitchen’s version uses much more accessible ingredients (to me), I couldn’t wait any longer. I prepped my new handy little steamer basket for its debut, and the hubby fired up the grill. Folks, these little buns even exceeded my expectations for pillowy softness, the perfect pouch for succulent marinated and barbecued pork. A touch of pickled onions and slathering of hoisin put them over the top. Let me just say I think they are the most wonderful thing we’ve ever cooked, and the hubby agrees.
Pork Buns, you guys. PORK BUNS! Go ahead, I think you need them in your life too. Time for me to share them with the folks at Fiesta Friday. Enjoy!
Bourbon & Hoisin Pork Buns with Pickled Onions
For the pork:
- 1 pork tenderloin
- 1/4 cup bourbon (I used Maker’s Mark)
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1-inch piece of ginger, grated on a microplane
- 1 clove garlic, sliced thin
- 2 Tbs. dark brown sugar
- 2 Tbs. canola oil
For the pickled onion:
- 1 red onion, sliced super thin
- 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
- 2 tsp. granulated sugar
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 5 black peppercorns
For the buns:
- 2 teaspoon active-dry yeast
- 1 cup whole milk
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 3 – 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- Hoisin sauce
- Sriracha or sambal oelek sauce (optional)
- Radicchio, washed and sliced thin
- Mix the ingredients for the marinade (bourbon through canola oil) in a bowl until the sugar has dissolved. Place the tenderloin and the marinade together in a sealable bag and let marinate overnight or during the rest of the prep time.
- Place the thinly sliced onions in a colander and pour a kettle of boiling water over them to blanch them. Dissolve the salt and sugar in the vinegar in a bowl, then add the blanched onion and peppercorns, cover and let sit for 30 minutes, then refrigerate.
- Warm milk to about 110 degrees F and add to yeast and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Stir together to combine and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes until foamy. Add flour, baking powder, salt, and oil into the bowl. Use your hands to knead the dough until all of the ingredients are well incorporated. Continue kneading until the dough is smooth and elastic. Form the dough into a ball, transfer to an oiled bowl, and turn to coat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled, 1-2 hours.
- Punch down the dough and transfer to a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough into a long log, then cut into 30 equal sections. Roll each of them into a ball and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover the baking sheet with plastic or a clean towel and let rise for another 20 minutes.
- Cut 30 4-inch parchment squares. Take one ball and place it on a floured surface. Take a rolling pin and roll the ball into a long oval. Brush the surface with oil and fold the oval in half, placing a chopstick across the middle to help it fold over. Place it on a parchment square. Repeat the process with the remaining dough. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for about 30 minutes more.
- Get the grill fired up and, when ready, cook the tenderloin, turning every 5 minutes or so, for about 20 minutes, or until internal temp reads at least 145 F. Let rest before slicing.
- Set up a bamboo steamer basket on top of a large pot of boiling water, at a level just below the steamer base. Working in batches, place buns in the steamer (still with parchment squares on), and be careful not to overcrowd. Steam the buns for about 7 minutes, until the buns are cooked through to the center. Cool down a little bit before filling and serving. If you’re not planing to use them immediately, store in a large plastic bag and keep in freezer, then re-steam them before using.
- Assemble the pork buns by first slathering the insides with hoisin sauce and optional hot pepper sauce, then slices of pork, pickled onions, radicchio and sprouts if desired.