Last week, I posted a video about my menu for the Ikea Supper Club: five courses of small offerings that reflected both my heritage and upbringing. A month has gone by since the Supper Club, and I still reflect upon the menu fondly.

The guests seemed to thoroughly enjoy the dishes (or at least that’s what they told me), and when asked which was their favorite, a majority said it was the sous vide pork belly bao.

My version of the pork belly bao was inspired by the ones I’d had at Momofuku Ssam Bar and Ippudo NY during my 2012 trip to NYC. The pillowy bao shells reminded me of Peking duck, and I thought the usual accompaniments to Peking duck (I.e. Steamed bun, julienned raw scallion, and cucumber slices—which I’d pickle) would go well with my braised pork belly. Yes, this is the same braised pork belly I cooked in the finale of “MasterChef” season 3, and it’s the same pork belly I made for my very first round of auditions in Austin. It’s the same pork belly recipe that’s available in my cookbook, Recipes from My Home Kitchen.

However, the method I employed in cooking the pork belly for the Supper Club involved my trustworthy PolyScience immersion circulator. The reason I cooked the pork belly sous vide this time was to free up hands and space in the kitchen to prep the other components of the five-course dinner. Also, using the immersion circulator would guarantee perfect texture which, if you’ve had tough pork belly before, you know is no fun and a surefire beeline straight to Lockjaw City.

After the pork belly is done cooking in the water bath, it’s seared and sliced, and the sauce in which it’d cooked is reduced in a saucepan before it’s tossed with the meat. Everyone raved about the pork belly bao, and that’s a good thing because I’m planning to serve it at my next pop-up (whenever I can find the time to do one).

So without further ado, here is my Stockholm Supper Club version of pork belly bao. If the Blind can Cook it, you can too (so long as you’ve got a PolyScience!).

Recipe: Sous Vide Pork Belly Bao

Notes: Achieve perfect pork belly texture every time with a PolyScience immersion circulator. The cucumbers can be quickly pickled in rice or sherry vinegar, sugar, and salt. I have yet to conquer making bao shells from scratch, so I urge you to find a dependable brand in the frozen aisle and go with them.

Ingredients

  1. 2 lbs pork belly, trimmed
  2. 3 cloves garlic, minced
  3. 2 shallots, thinly sliced
  4. 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  5. 1/3 c fish sauce
  6. 1/4 c packed brown sugar
  7. 1 to 2 (12 ozs) cans coconut soda (Coco-Rico brand is best)
  8. freshly ground black pepper
  9. 1 cucumber; peeled, cut baton net, and lightly pickled
  10. white parts of scallion only, julienned
  11. 12 to 16 bao shells, steamed according to package directions

Instructions

  1. Vacuum seal the pork with garlic, shallot, onion, fish sauce, sugar, coconut soda, and black pepper. Refrigerate and let marinate overnight.
  2. Remove bag from fridge approx 30 min prior to slipping it into the water bath to allow it a little time to warm up to room temp. Set your immersion circulator to 63°C, and sous vide the pork for 12 to 18 hrs, depending on desired tenderness. I did mine for about 14 hrs.
  3. When time is up, remove the sealed bag from the hot water bath and let rest, still sealed, at room temp for 15 to 20 min.
  4. Cut open the bag and let the heavenly porky piece(s) slide out on to a cutting board. Heat a lightly oiled skillet over high heat, and sear pork on all sides until browned (browner?).
  5. Meanwhile, empty marinade contents from bag into a blender or food pro (if you want to purée); otherwise, cut to the chase and pour into a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat until reduced and thickened, approx 15 to 30 min, tasting throughout process to make sure it doesn’t get too salty. If the sauce becomes too concentrated, dilute with some water or, better yet, chicken stock (which you should always have handy in the form of ice cubes in your freezer).
  6. Slice meat into 1/4” thick pieces, and toss with sauce to coat.
  7. To serve, stuff a few pieces of pork into the steamed bao shell (much like a taco). Brush extra sauce on to the meat if desired. Wedge in a pickled cucumber slice or two, and a few shavings of scallion. Don’t forget to bogart one for yourself before serving immediately to your drooling guests.

Preparation time: 15 minute(s)

Cooking time: 14 hour(s) 30 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 12 to 16

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4 Discussion to this post

  1. @JeffD503 says:

    Who said anything about guests? 😛 I'd eat my fill and save the rest for later, and leave the others to munch on cheese and crackers, maybe some cocktail weenies. Kidding, I'd share.

    This recipe sounds fantastic. If I had one of those PolyScience cookers, I'm sure this would be on my to-cook list. Of course, I've got a whole book worth of recipes on that list too. Maybe by the time I'm done with them, I'll have saved up enough to buy one.

    • vlademir1 says:

      Thankfully it's only as hard to put together a waterbath with a constant temperature as it is to own the type of roaster ovens common to church picnics and potlucks and some variety of vacuum sealer. It isn't the most ideal method, but it at least does the trick for less than $100USD and, to borrow an idea from Alton Brown, isn't limited to just this one task which is a significant issue for equipment in a home kitchen.

  2. Justin says:

    I will definitely try this one! 🙂

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  3. maria says:

    Pork belly is very tricky to cook the right way, but if you do get it right it can be a wonderful meal. This is a very interesting recipe. I think it must be very good!

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