As we have mentioned on this site in the past, the pork buns at Pai Men Miyake get into your head. A thick slice of braised, fatty, salty pork belly, nestled lovingly into a pillowy steamed bun, drizzled with gochujang mayonnaise and finished perfectly with a bit of soft lettuce and a tart slice of pickle will have the tendency to leave an impression. What else leaves an impression? That they cost $9 for an order of two. And if you’re dining with a companion, I dare you, dare you! to split an order and eat just one. Even for a light lunch, you’re in for almost $20 bucks before you’ve even had a beer.
As nice as it is to dine in at Pai Men Miyake on a cold Winter day, to wrap yourself up in the smell of noodles in such a cozy little space, with other similarly-minded people, that price point means that we’re not eating these buns nearly as often as we’d like. I thought I would take a stab at reverse-engineering them, at home.
I measured and weighed each ingredient carefully, and was surprised to find that I could get pretty close to these Momofuku-style buns right here at home, and for $1.92 per serving of two (the cost breakdown is at right). As much as we enjoy the service and relaxation that you would expect from a 369% markup, learning to make these little munchkins at home, eating as many as we want, and watching “The Price is Right” at the same time is nice, sometimes, too.
Oh, sure: they’re not made by a master chef. And I’m sure Sriracha and mayonnaise is a poor substitute for the sauce they are actually using at Pai Men. But I think if you give these a try, you might like ’em.
“Japanese Big Mac” Pork Belly Buns
Makes 12 buns
Adapted from a recipe in Sunset
- 1/2 package active dry yeast
- 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup warm water, and add sugar, oil, and salt. Let stand 15 minutes. Add flour and knead until smooth, about 10 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, cover, and let rise in a warm place (about 80 degrees) until doubled in size, about two hours. Punch dough down, and cut into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a slightly oval round, and roll out until thin, about 3″ long by 2″ wide. Brush top of each bun with oil, and fold in half. Place each bun on a 3×3 square piece of parchment or waxed paper, and let rise about 30 more minutes.
Ingredients (Pork and toppings):
- 1.5 pounds pork belly, boneless and skinless
- 1/2 cup kosher salt
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 4 1/2 cups water, divided
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 1.5 teaspoons Sriracha
- Boston lettuce, torn into small pieces
- Sliced dill pickle chips
Brine pork by combining kosher salt, sugar, and 4 cups of the water. Place in sealed bag and refrigerate overnight, or at least 12 hours. Discard bringing solution, and place pork fat side up in small baking pan. Add 1/2 cup water, and 1/2 cup chicken broth. Cook, covered tightly in foil, for 2.5 hours at 300 degrees. Remove foil, and cook an additional 30 minutes at 450, or until fat turns golden in color. Let pork rest for 30 minutes, and then slice against the grain, into 1/4 inch slices. Before assembly, pork can be reheated in 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes.
While pork cooks, combine mayonnaise and Sriracha in separate bowl, and get your lettuce all torn up.
In batches, place buns (including parchment or waxed paper) onto steamer rack over boiling water, making sure buns don’t touch. Cover tightly, and cook until buns puff up and are cooked through, about three minutes. Open bun, and add a healthy smear of the Sriracha mayo. Add slice of pork, a dab of lettuce, and a slice of pickle. Serve immediately.