Twice-cooked Pork Belly Bun
This recipe is loosely based on the momofuku pork bun by David Chang. It’s pretty easy, but you need a lot of time to prepare because the pork brines for at least 12 hours then roasts for another three.
For the pork:
2.5 pounds skinless pork belly, plus 4 cups water, 1/2 cup salt and 1/2 cup sugar for brine
1/2 cup chicken broth
One package plain clamshell buns (I purchased a package of 12 at my local Asian grocer for $2.99. Well worth not having the hassle of making these from scratch!)
Quick pickled cucumber
1. Stick the pork belly in a gallon size zip lock bag. Mix the water, sugar and salt together in a separate container then pour into the bag o’ pork. Stick that bag in the fridge and leave it be for at least 12 hours, up to 24 hours.
2. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Place pork fat side up in a baking dish that fits the meat snugly, like a 8x8 or maybe even a loaf pan. Pour in half a cup of water and that half cup of chicken broth. Cover the pan tightly with foil and roast the pork until tender, which should be around 2.5 hours.
3. Remove the foil, crank up the heat to 450 degrees and let the fat bubble and turn into a golden color. Then take the meat out and let it cool for a while on the stove. Once cooled, slice it against the grain into pieces small enough to stuff into your buns.
4. At this point, you could use the meat as-is, or you can do this extra step that I think makes the pork belly even better. Take two forks and pull the meat apart, shredding it all into even smaller pieces. Take the shredded pork and pan fry it for a few minutes in a hot skillet. No oil needed, as the pork is already fatty and greasy enough. The bits of pork should crisp up a little. We’re basically making pork belly carnitas here.
5. Make the quick pickled cucumbers by mixing cucumber slices with a 2:1 ratio of sugar to salt. This can be adjusted to taste. The cucumbers need to sit for at least 20 minutes, so plan accordingly.
6. Steam your buns in the microwave for 2 minutes or on the stove for 15-20 minutes. This step can be done before you shred and cook the meat a second time. Up to you. Keep in mind that after about an hour or two the buns lose a lot of their fluffiness.
7. Stuff those fluffy clam shells with the twice-cooked pork belly, cucumbers, green onion, hoisin sauce and sriracha.
- Okay, longest title ever. Sorry about that. I didn’t know which ingredients I wanted to showcase and just included them all. Now, the story: I am thankful that my mom is not a typical Filipino fobby mom. She is an awesome cook that makes an effort to try new recipes, not just the same Filipino stuff over and over. I’d like to think that I grew up with a little more variety in my diet than some of my peers. Still, this was the very first time I ever had butternut squash at home. Heck, it might be the very first time I ate butternut squash, unless it was put into a dish without me knowing. I had no idea how to pick a butternut squash, so if you saw an Asian girl on her phone for a long time near the squash section of the Emeryville Trader Joe’s, that was me googling “How to pick a butternut squash.” (You pick one that feels heavy for its size and rock solid, with matte skin.) I brought a squash home and knew that I should probably roast it, but that’s as far as it got. So, I did my default recipe of tossing WHATEVER with pasta, bacon and cheese. Something + bacon + cheese + pasta = a fool proof meal in my book. (Unless that something is yogurt covered raisins, but I’m going to assume that you’ll have enough sense to not do that.) I also decided to throw in some caramelized onions just because. I’m really no professional chef.
- One butternut squash
- Several slices of bacon (up to you!)
- One onion, sliced into long strips
- Pasta of choice
- Goat cheese
- Olive oil
- Salt & Pepper
- Preheat over to 400 degrees.
- Peel and cube the butternut squash, toss with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes, or until tender.
- Caramelizing onions will take around half an hour. I used the technique from Serious Eats.
- While the squash is roasting, cook your pasta according to the instructions on the box.
- Cook several slices of bacon, then chop them into small pieces.
- At this point, you should have all of your main components. Just throw it all into a bowl and add in the goat cheese, salt and pepper, and a little drizzle of olive oil. The goat cheese should get a little melty.
- If you’re fancy, you can add sage or walnuts. I added a little bit of basil.
- I saw a photo of these floating around the internet a while back but didn’t have the motivation to make them until recently. There’s a Thai temple nearby that serves cheap, authentic Thai food for a couple hours each Sunday, and I couldn’t stop thinking about their sticky rice for weeks after I had it. In popsicle form, I can satisfy a craving simply by pulling one of these suckers out of the freezer.
- Can of coconut milk
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1/2 cup of arborio rice (risotto rice) or sticky rice
- 1/2 cup sugar
- one teaspoon of grated ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 ripe mango, sliced into tiny pieces (I would up this to two if you’d prefer a higher mango to rice ratio. I’d definitely bump it to two the next time I make mine, but that might just be personal preference.)
- Mix together coconut milk, milk, and rice in a small sauce pan.
- Cook on low heat until rice is completely cooked through. Stir every few minutes.
- After rice is cooked, stir in sugar, vanilla extract, salt, and grated ginger.
- Fold in chopped mango
- Spoon into popsicle mold and freeze until solid.
- My entries are so pathetic compared to Jeremy’s, but I don’t have as much time to cook thanks to the bar exam. I promise to post better things starting in August. I picked up these chili lime chicken burger patties at Trader Joe’s, which I’ve had before. They make for terrible burgers, in my opinion, because they’re pretty thin, but they’re not bad sliced up and thrown into salads.
- 1/4 head of cabbage
- 1 cup of shredded carrots
- 1 shallot
- 1 red bell pepper
- Minced cilantro
- Minced mint
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- Sesame seeds
- Red pepper
- Chopped peanuts
- Salt & pepper
- Chop up everything and throw it into a bowl.
- Mix sesame oil and rice vinegar, then drizzle it over the slaw.
- Sprinkle the sesame seeds, red pepper and peanuts. Toss.
- Cook the chicken patty, slice it up, and throw it on top of the slaw.
- I know, these look terrible. I also hate messing with a good thing, and pizza is most definitely a good thing. I still wanted to give these a shot, though. Jeremy was not happy when I told him about this idea. It was the day after I stopped him from eating white rice and made him cauliflower mash instead. I made them anyway. Of course, I’d prefer to eat a real pizza, but I’m trying to be healthier. They were actually really good and I’ve made them multiple times.
- Portabella mushrooms
- Tomato sauce
- Cheese (I used parmigiano reggiano and fresh ricotta.)
- Toppings (I used chicken sausage, red pepper, and fennel seed.)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Break off the stem of the mushroom and scrape out the “gills” on the underside of the mushroom cap.
- Brush the top of the mushroom cap with a bit of olive oil to keep it from sticking to the pan. Place it on the pan with the gill side up and bake for five minutes to dry out the cap.
- Take the pan out of the oven, top with sauce, cheese and whatever you like.
- Pop that tray back into the oven and leave it there for 20 minutes.
I almost feel like it’s wrong to post this here because no cooking was involved, but sometimes you don’t have to actually cook to have an enjoyable meal. We spent too much time running errands this morning and both of us didn’t want to cook lunch. After scouring the pre-made food section at Trader Joe’s without seeing anything we wanted, I suggested that we make a meal out of meats and cheeses.
I chose a grass-fed New Zealand sharp cheddar and 1,000 day aged gouda. Jeremy chose some sort of Italian meat tray. I really should know all of the names for these meats since I lived in Italy and ate them all the time, but…I don’t. Whoops. When joined with some whole grain crackers and a sliced pear, this simple lunch is deceivingly fancy. This was basically an adult lunchables with more flavor and none of that icky, processed stuff!
My friend Joan is a fellow brunch lover and she insisted that I try the lemon ricotta pancakes at a nearby cafe (Cafe Aquarius) as soon as I moved into the ‘hood. The pancakes were the fluffiest I’ve ever tasted, and I thought that I would never feel full because it was almost like eating pancakes blended with air. Totally lived up to the hype. (Thanks, Joan!) I tried my hand at them last week. Most of the recipes called for separating the eggs and beating the whites until foamy, then folding them into the batter, but I’m studying for the bar and I’m lazy, so I found a recipe that didn’t require that extra step, and adapted it to my liking.
This yielded 10 pancakes, which was too many for two people. I’d half the recipe next time. I regret not topping the pancakes with the raspberry syrup I picked up in Sonoma last month! Also, that same day I made a strawberry rhubarb compote that I thought would be awesome with the pancakes…right after I ate the last bite. Darn. Next time!
- 3/4 cup AP flour. (I used a mixture of half AP and half King Arthur’s White Whole Wheat to be *healthy*)
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 2 eggs
- 2/3 cup milk
- 1 lemon, zested and juiced
- butter for the pan
- Preheat griddle.
- Combine dry ingredients into bowl and mix.
- Combine wet ingredients into a different bowl and whisk together.
- Mix dry ingredients into wet ingredients until just combined.
- Pour 1/4 cup of batter onto greased, buttered pan. Turn when the surface is bubbling. (The trick to fluffy pancakes is to only turn them once and to keep the heat on medium/low. Patience, my friends.)
Shrimp and Polenta
I used to make this when I lived in Italy, a place where pancetta is cheaper than a bus ticket. Pancetta isn’t so cheap here in California, so I substituted some thick-cut, apple wood smoked bacon that we needed to use up. Polenta isn’t popular here, but they sell it at our local produce market in bulk. If you can’t find it, try corn meal, which is basically the same thing but finer.
- Use 1 part polenta to 4 parts water. I used 1/2 of a cup to make two generous servings. You could use milk if you want.
- Boil the water, whisk in the polenta.
- Lower the heat and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add salt and a pad (or two or three) of butter to taste.
- 2 strips of bacon, cut into squares
- 1 can of diced tomatoes
- 10 shrimp, frozen, fresh, whatever.
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced.
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (let’s be honest, just shake the tube a couple of times)
- 1 tbsp Chopped Italian parsley
- Sprinkle of Parmigiano Reggiano
- Cook the bacon in a pan until almost cooked. Drain.
- Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, and shrimp.
- Add the can of tomatoes and a bit of salt.
- Add polenta in a bowl. Spoon over the tomato/bacon/shrimp mixture.
- Garnish with chopped parsley and cheese.
Every morning, I make a big pot of espresso. The first two servings go to our morning cappuccinos, and I usually save the rest for an afternoon iced latte. One day I didn’t feel the need for the second helping of caffeine, so I decided to turn the leftover espresso into coffee jelly. The recipe is stupidly easy.
- 1 packet unflavored gelatin
- 2 tbsp. hot water
- 2 cups of coffee
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- Mix the gelatin powder and hot water in a cup and let sit for a minute or two.
- Meanwhile, heat the coffee in a small pot
- Stir in the sugar and gelatin mixture and keep stirring until everything is dissolved.
- Pour into cups or into a tray and pop that sucker into the fridge.
- Let gelatin set for at least two hours.
I mushed mine up and added milk, but I think the traditional Japanese way of enjoying this dessert calls for a dollop of whipped cream. It’s an alternate way for me to get my caffeine fix, and in these long, monotonous days filled with only studying, the variety is very welcome.