To offset all the vegan and vegetarian dishes, I made one of my favourite dishes from Momofuku restaurant in NYC, a braised pork belly bun with pickled cucumber and scallions. The meat can be prepared a few days ahead of time, and reheated and assembled right before serving. Left over pork belly can also be used for the Momofuku ramen noodles.

For the pork, it’s important to get a piece of pork belly that has a thick layer of fat on top of the meat. I tried to find skinned pork belly at central market, but when they de-skin the meat, they also took off all the fat. You need to fat because that’s what the meat is going to slow braise in. I was able to find some skin-on pork belly at the local asian supermarket, which I skinned myself.

The pork is rubbed all over with a even mixture of salt and sugar, wrapped in plastic wrap, and set in the fridge for 8 to 24 hours.

When the pork is ready to cook, it’s taken out of the fridge and rested in room temp for approx 1 hour, then placed in a baking dish, and baked at 275 for about 1.5 hours, then the heat is turned up to 400 degrees, and the meat is cooked for another 1 hour.

The cook book actually tells you to cook the meat at high heat for 1 hour first, then lower the heat, but I think too much fat is rendered out that way, and the meat tend to end up pretty dry. This way, the pork is braised in low heat in it’s own fat, then the high heat basically just helps crisp up the out side.

The meat should be set aside and cooled completely. It’s easier to slice when the fat congeals, otherwise, the meat might fall apart when slicing. If you are cooking the pork in advance, you should store it in the fridge in a whole piece, and not slice it until you are ready to serve. You can warm the belly in a 200 degree oven until warm, and proceed with the rest of the instructions.

You can give the slices a quick sear on the stove top, and to assemble, I used some store bought rice buns (available at Asian super markets) that has been halved, I smeared a little bit of hoisin sauce on both sides, placed a few slices of pork belly, and a few slices of Asian pickled cucumbers, topped them with a few sprigs of scallions. The cook book does provide a recipe for the buns themselves, but because I had a lot of other dishes to deal with, I just took the easy way out and bought the buns.

To make the pickled cucumbers, you slice up some baby cucumbers into 1/16 inch thick slices, then mix it with 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1 tablespoon of sugar, and set aside at room temp for about 10 or 15 minutes. They are not the traditional american pickled cucumbers.

You can add a squeeze of Sriracha hot sauce to taste if you like your buns a little spicy.

Momofuku Pork Bun Recipe: http://momofukufor2.com/2010/01/momofuku-pork-buns/

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