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Announcement: Saturday October 3, 2020: Pork Buns (Char Siu Bao) on an unSATisfactory day.
Oct 13th, 2020 by Max Koster

Today I (Max) up early to take my SAT Subject tests in Chemistry and Math 2.  After studying for weeks, I was eager to get them done and had chosen a test site in New Jersey that seemed certain to stay open.  (All the ones in New York City were closed or closing.) I checked the testing site the night before and again as soon as I woke up, and it was still open.  Unfortunately, when I arrived at the site, the sign below was on the door…no explanation, no human to explain, just a lot of frustrated high school students!

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One I got home and took a nap, I decided to make the most of the unSATisfactory day by making pork buns.  We still had a lot over leftover pork from the Bo Ssam so this seemed a good way to use it up.

The first step was to make the yeast dough for the buns. Ingredients were flour, yeast, neutral oil (canola or grapeseed), sugar, water, and a little salt.

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I proofed the yeast by adding it to water and sugar and then combined it with the flour, adding oil at the end. Then I kneaded it and put the dough in a bowl to rise to double its size (about an hour supposedly).

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The next step was to make the filling.  Ingredients were: pork, scallions, ginger, garlic, rice wine vinegar, honey, soy sauce, and hoisin sauce.

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The recipe said to use a pork tenderloin, cook it and then combine with the other ingredients. But since we had all this leftover Bo Ssam pork, I decided to use that instead.  I just needed to chop it up.  The scallions, garlic, and ginger also needed to be chopped and Alex helped out with that.

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When everything was chopped, I combined it all in a big bowl, added in the vinegar, honey, and hoisin sauce, and mixed well.

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Then I let the filling marinate in the fridge until the dough had risen enough.  Once it doubled in size, I punched it down and divided it into 8 pieces.

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Then I shaped each piece into a ball and rolled it out flat to at least a 5-inch diameter (I even used a ruler to make sure!). Each round got a dollop of filling in the center.

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The next step was the hardest: shaping the pork buns by folding the top inward. That took a while, but eventually, I got all 8 done.

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Then I steamed them two at a time in a double boiler (over parchment paper and with a towel on the lid on top to prevent condensation).

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After 15 minutes, I took them out, cut them in half, and devoured!  Tasted great but next time I need to put in double the filling.  Just a little too much dough to meat for me.

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Announcement: Sunday, September 27, 2020: Bo Ssam!
Oct 5th, 2020 by Max Koster

Today I (Max) wanted to use the Insta-Pot I got mom from Christmas (that she rarely uses) to cook something I’ve never cooked or eaten: Bo Saam (Korean marinated and roasted pork shoulder).  Relying on Melissa Clark’s recipe in Comfort in an Instant (which is based on a dish from Chef David Chang’s restaurant, Momofuko ), I bought the ingredients on Saturday and prepared myself for a big day of cooking on Sunday.  For the pork, only 4 ingredients are needed salt, sugar, 8 pounds of bone-in pork shoulder, and dark brown sugar.  Melissa Clark recommended serving it with a ginger scallion sauce, so for that you need: scallions, fresh ginger, neutral oil, soy sauce, sherry vinegar, and kosher salt (optional…ended up not needing it).

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First step was to make a salt/sugar mix and rub it all over the pork, and then let marinate in the fridge for at least 6 hours.  Getting up early Sunday was hard, but ultimately worth it.

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I am glad I had gloves.  The salt and sugar started to soak into the pork immediately.

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After 7 hours, it was time to put in the Insta-Pot.  As you can see below, after all that time, there is no evidence of the salt or sugar: it has all been absorbed.

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I placed the pork shoulder on a rack in the Insta-Pot with 1/2 cup water below.  It needed to pressure-cook for 110 minutes, but the maximum our pot goes is to 99 minutes…so that’s what I used.

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After 99 minutes was up, I set it for another 11 minutes of high-pressure cooking and started making the ginger-scallion sauce.  I chopped scallions and ginger and mixed them with the oil/soy sauce/sherry vinegar combo.  Salt was an option ingredient that I didn’t need: the soy sauce gave it plenty of salt.

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When the 110 total minutes was up, I tested the pork with a fork: it was supposed to be very tender but I thought it wasn’t quite tender enough, so I set it for another 10 minutes of high pressure. When that time was up, I removed the pork and rubbed it all over with brown sugar mixed with salt.

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After that it was under the broiler for about 7 minutes till the sugar carmelized and the skin was crispy.

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Voila!  We ate it with rice, the ginger-scallion sauce and stir fried vegetables.  Delicious.

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