It's Bao Time

By February 23, 2019 , , , , , , , ,

Tell me,  what does one do when they have an entire week of free time?

They make baos.

The first time I laid eyes on these, I was 21. While flipping through a magazine at the airport lounge, I came across David Chang and his famous pork belly baos which are featured prominently at his restaurant in Toronto. 

When I finally made the trek downtown to his impressive three storey establishment, I was determined to sink my teeth into these soft pillowy pieces of dough. 

That was until I saw the price. 

Twelve whole dollars for two little buns! Twelve!  My tiny 21 year old heart couldn't take it, so I ended up ordering the spicy sichaun cold noodles (which were absolutely delicious) and returned home, never tasting these baos that I lusted over. 

Over the years, I had forgotten about them until recently when I purchased his cookbook. As I came across the recipe for these, floods of memories rushed back and I was determined to re-create them in the comfort of my own home. 

You start with fresh flour and knead in a sprinkle of sugar, a splash of cream and a light dusting of baking soda.

Once you've prodded and poked these pillowy delights into their final bun form, you allow them to sit and double in size before gently placing them into a steamer.

(you'll see I expertly fashioned a makeshift one here using a pizza pan and my trusty le Creuset wok)

While the baos are steaming, you begin assembling the rest of your ingredients.

As the star of the show, the pork belly demands much attention. You start with an overnight brine of salt and sugar. This is rinsed off in the morning before the belly is placed into a large oven dish and slow roasted at 325 degrees fahrenheit for five hours. 

This is where the magic happens.

After five hours, the temperature is raised to a scalding 400 degrees, where the skin is given time to crisp up and bubble up for a crunchy bite. Then, when the meat becomes buttery smooth and tender, it's removed and sliced into thin bite sized portions, 

Vegetables are quickly chopped up; some fresh English cucumbers, vibrant carrots, sharp green onions, and pungent pickled daikon - to name a few.

Finally, the toppings are prepared. 

Some flash roasted peanuts that are hand crushed by a sharp knife. 
And a hoisin and sesame oil sauce that adds both a sweet and savory edge to the bao.

Stuff your bao with a few toppings or all the toppings. Whatever you like!
The best part of this is that they're bite sized, so you can eat one or you can eat ten.

They're perfect for a quiet night spent in front of the TV - binge watching the latest season of Madam Secretary (my currently obsession), or a gathering with your nearest and dearest.

Now you'll have to excuse me, I have a pile of baos in the kitchen, steaming hot and just waiting to be devoured. 



Recipe for the momofuku bao can be found HERE

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