I volunteer as a “friend” to a “meals on wheels” senior. Her name is Winnie and she had a heart attack and a stroke about 10 years ago. The latter left her paralyzed on the left side of her body. Which makes it difficult for her to walk. The majority of the time she uses a wheelchair. But, Winnie has a “zest for life,” especially for all things music and dance.
So this “minor” disability doesn’t keep Winnie from attending musicals, jazz events and operas. Even with the twenty or more steps leading to the paratransit that awaits her outside her house. Which drops her off at her carfefully planned, music and dance happenings, all over San Francisco.
Above: Daikon (left) and Fresh Turmeric (right)
Food for Winnie has been more of a “eat to live” motto, rather than my motto, “live to eat.” However, she watches a lot of shows on television related to food. One in particular, is “Check Please! Bay Area.” The show reviews local restaurants, which are reviewed by local people, who regularly dine at these restaurants.
I on the other hand, don’t watch many shows related to food (I know strange- also, I don’t own a tv). However, i have seen a couple episodes of “Check Please! Bay Area,” online.
Slicing Daikon with the mandoline (above)
When we talk on the phone during the week or when i visit her on Sundays, she always tells me about the latest episode of “Check Please! Bay Area.”
Recently, on one particular episode, a guest reviewed a food truck, called “The Chairman.” When Winnie mentioned “The Chairman,” I perked up, because this is my favorite food truck in the bay area. And when Winnie mentioned “Pork Belly with Turmeric Pickled Daikon,” i was salivating. “Pork Belly with Turmeric Pickled Daikon,” is my favorite item from this food truck.
About twice a month, i indulge in this 2 bites, 2 chews, 2 swallows and its gone dish. However, after speaking about the food truck, Winnie said she had never had pork belly before. No, STOP, say, WHAT!?
So, with this newly revealed information, it was my mission, to make Winnie “Pork Belly with Turmeric Pickled Daikon.”
First, I made the Turmeric Pickled Daikon. Daikon is a white radish and the turmeric basically colors it yellow. Honestly, i don’t think the turmeric imparts any additional flavor. If you use fresh turmeric, you can pickle it with the daikon, or you can just add powdered turmeric for the color. I actually did both.
Next, i made the steamed “bao” buns. This is an optional step, you can make them homemade (see recipe below), buy them already made, in the freezer section at a supermarket or you can substitute a different type of “bun” for this recipe.
If you do decide to make your own, which is SUPER easy, i promise. The longest part of the process, similar to making most doughs, is waiting the 2 hours for the dough to rise. The package above is just one of many types of flour you can buy to make the “bao” buns.
I live in an area that has a variety of asian supermarkets, so this is very easy for me to locate. However, if you don’t, just buy them already made in the freezer section of the supermarket. You will need a steamer to steam them for 3 minutes (see below) or follow the instructions on the package.
steamed bao buns (above)
Finally, i made the pork belly. Pork belly takes about two hours in the oven, at a low temperature After the pork belly has finished cooking, it should “rest” in the fridge overnight. The “resting’ period makes it easier to cut the pork belly, without it falling apart.
I cut the pork belly into 2 inch pieces, sear it on high heat, with a little salt and pepper. I serve the Pork Belly with Turmeric Pickled Daikon, fresh cilantro, Hoisin Sauce (a sweet brown sauce) and Sambal Oelek (chili sauce). All steps in this recipe can be done 1-2 days ahead. The pork can be substituted for portabella mushrooms or eggplant (this is my personal favorite).
- TURMERIC PICKLED DAIKON
- ½ cup water
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ cup rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon powdered turmeric or a 2-inch knob cut in slices
- ½ of a medium daikon, thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Bao Buns (adapted from Momofuku)
- 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- ½ cup water
- 2 cups package bot bang bao (see photo)
- 1⅛ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ cup sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Pork Belly
- ½ pound pork belly
- ½ tablespoon oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- ¼ cup fresh cilantro
- Turmeric Pickled Daikon
- In a saucepan over medium heat add the vinegar, water, sugar, and turmeric. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from heat and allow it to cool.
- Meanwhile, peel the daikon radish and thinly slice the daikon. (I used a mandoline, but you can use a knife) Place in a colander with salt and mix well. Place the colander over a bowl and let drain for ½ hour.
- Rinse the salt off with water (taste it to see if it is salty, if it is still salty, continue to rinse until salt has been rinsed completely off- may take 3-4 times) and dry the daikon well.
- Put into a glass jar, i used a mason jar. Pour the cooled brine into the jar, until daikon is completely covered. Refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight. Will keep for about 2 weeks.
- Bao Buns (bot bang bao)
- Combine the yeast and water in the bowl of a stand mixer outfitted with the dough hook. Add the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and mix on the highest speed, for 8-10 minutes. The dough should gather together into a ball. Lightly oil a medium mixing bowl, put the dough in it, and cover the bowl with a dry kitchen towel. Put it in a warm place and let rise until the dough doubles, about 1 hour 30 minutes.
- Punch the dough down and turn it out onto a clean work surface.. Gently roll into a log, then cut into 8 pieces. Roll each piece of dough into a ball and weigh each ball, they should each weigh about 27g or if you don't have a scale, the size of a golf ball. Cover the dough balls with plastic wrap and allow them to rest and rise for 30 minutes.
- While the dough is rising, cut out 8 medium squares of parchment paper.
- Use a rolling pin to roll each ball of dough into an oval. Lay a greased chopstick or handle of a spoon/fork/knife across the middle of the oval and fold over onto itself to form the bun shape. Remove the chopstick or handle of a spoon/fork/knife, leaving the bun folded, and put the bun on a square of parchment paper. Put back under the plastic wrap (or a dry kitchen towel) and form the rest of the buns. Let the buns rest for 30-45 minutes: they will rise a little.
- Set up a steamer on the stove. Place the buns on the pre cut squared parchment paper, place three at a time in the steam basket and steam for 8-10 minutes.
- Use the buns immediately or cool completely, seal in freezer bags and freeze for up to a month. Reheat frozen buns in a steamer for 2-3 minutes, until warm.
- Pork Belly
- Preheat oven to 275F. Salt and pepper the pork belly, wrap in 2 layers of foil. Place on baking sheet and roast for 2 hours. Remove from oven and let cool before refrigerating and place in fridge for 24 hours.
- Heat saute pan on medium-high. Add oil. Add sliced pork belly and sear on both sides, until brown.
- Serve with Turmeric Pickled Daikon, fresh cilantro, Hoisin Sauce (a sweet brown sauce) and Sambal Oelek (chili sauce)