Every so often I find myself looking up the Momofuku Pork Bun recipe pondering if I should make it or not. Normally I would just say “I’ll try it later”. Well later finally came, I made it today. What in the world was I waiting for? Seriously. Now I should say that I only made the buns, not the pork belly filling, rather I got a little creative using what I had on hand. An has offer made, and accepted, on the house, one that we are very hopeful will leave us homeless, so I have been looking around thinking of all the food I want to use up rather than toss or pack up. In the freezer were several packages of ground beef, so I decided I would add some Asian flavors and make it work with the buns. I succeeded. The original recipe had a quick cucumber pickle, but I did a quickie vegetable medley instead, and honestly, it worked really well.
A note on the bun recipe, it makes 50 buns. Now these are not large buns, but unless you are serving a small army you will not eat them all at one meal. The good news, they freeze wonderfully so you can have a super quick dinner another time.
For the Recipe:
1 tbsp. canola oil, I used my wok so I had to use a higher smoke point oil
1 lb. ground beef (I used 93/7), you could easily substitute pork or chicken
1 tsp. sesame oil
1/2 tsp. pepper
3 shitake mushrooms, small dice so they match the ground beef
2 thai chiles, seeded and cut into thin strips (use only one for less spice)
2 tbsp. fish sauce
1 tbsp. ginger, grated
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 scallions, cut thin
For the Quickie Vinegar Vegetable Salad
1/2 c. snap peas, thinly sliced into matchsticks
1/4 c. cilantro, roughly chopped
1/4 c. daikon radish, thinly sliced into matchsticks
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 c. nappa cabbage, thinly sliced
juice from one lime
1/4 c. rice wine vinegar
2 tsp. sugar (I like mine to have a lot of the vinegar flavor, add more sugar if you prefer it more sweet)
1/2 tsp. salt
Optional Topping: Thai Basil, julienned right before serving
I cooked the beef in a wok but you could just as easily do this in a frying pan. Add the oil to the pan and add the beef. Cook for a few minutes while you break it up into small pieces. Add the sesame oil, pepper and shitake mushrooms, cook for a few minutes while stirring to incorporate the sesame oil evenly. Now time to add the chiles, fish sauce and ginger, cook for a few minutes to get the ginger all happy and friendly with the meat. Throw in the garlic and stir well. Lastly, add the scallions and turn off the heat.
To make the vinegar salad add all the vegetables to a bowl. Add the rice wine vinegar, sugar, and salt, mix well. I like to make this first so it has time to let all that glorious vinegar and lime get into the vegetables.
Now time to build these little perfect handfuls of deliciousness. Open a warm bun, add a couple tablespoons of the meat, top with some of the vinegar salad and thai basil (if you choose to use).