Sunday, June 26, 2016

Beef Bao Sliders

Bao buns are the quite the rage. Or are they now passe? Not in my house. David Chang popularized them a few years ago. Since it has been a challenge to eat at Momofuko, I create this popular recipe at home. True to the original concept I start with pork belly. It's delicious! But getting there is a lengthy process, from brining the pork, to braising or roasting it, and lastly, pan frying pork slices. The end result, stuffed into a warm steamed bun, paired with pickled daikon and carrots, cucumber and cilantro, drizzled with hoisin, is a mouthful of wow. Caramelized pork, rich hoisin flavors and crisp veggies warm the heart and belly. These bite size baos are the quintessential finger food.

To make my life easier I decide to substitute another meat. A ground beef patty, full of Asian aromatics. Grated garlic becomes a pungent puree, with no pieces to bite into. I use a fancy Japanese ginger grater Rehan brings me from his travels. I have trouble with this new contraption...but then I haven't read the accompanying instructions. I finally figure it out and I'm left with wonderfully minuscule grated ginger. Thanks Rehan!

A short marination on the counter, after which beef is shaped into small oval patties and fried as the baos steam. These patties are a lazy cook's best friend. A short marination, a quick fry and they are ready to be eaten or stuffed. Baos are ready to be assembled. In place of daikon I use a fennel and carrot slaw. New flavors for an old standard.

Makes 8-10 portions

1 pound ground Beef
2 teaspoons Sambal Olek
2 tablespoons Ketchap Manis
1 teaspoon Sriracha 
1 teaspoon grated Garlic
1 teaspoon grated Ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground Black Pepper 
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt 
1 tablespoon Canola Oil 
1/2 cup shredded Carrots
1/2 cup thinly sliced Fennel
1/2 teaspoon Sugar
A pinch of Kosher Salt 
1 tablespoon White Vinegar
Cilantro Sprigs
Thai Basil or Italian Basil
Sweet Chile Sauce
8-10 Chinese Steamed Buns

Mix ground beef, sambal olek, ketchap manis, Sriracha, ginger, garlic, black pepper and salt. Massage the spices and beef well. Keep beef aside for 15 minutes.

Put carrots and fennel in a glass bowl. 

Sprinkle sugar, salt and white vinegar over veggies. Stir occasionally so veggies can absorb the vinegar.

Heat an inch of water on a wide saucepan. 

Place a steamer rack in the saucepan.

Line steamer rack with wax paper so the buns wont stick to the steamer.

Once the water simmers, place 4-5 buns on wax paper. Cover the pan and steam for 15 minutes. Repeat with remaining buns. Buns can stay warm in the steamer for 15-20 minutes.

Fry patties as buns steam.

Shape them into 2-3 inch ovals. You should have 8-10 oval patties.

Heat canola oil in a nonstick pan.

Add patties to hot oil and cook till brown and crusty on one side. Flip and brown other side.

To assemble the baos, line up the patties, slaw, herbs and sweet chile sauce.

Place one opened steamed bao on plate. 

Top with one beef patty.

Pile some slaw over patty.

Drape cilantro and basil over slaw.

Drizzle sweet chile sauce over patty.

Fold the upper flap over the fixings and dig in!

Repeat  and enjoy!!

Lunch is a true delight. I start with just one bao. Then I assemble a few for G. Temptation prevails and I put another together for myself. G thinks it is for him. That notion is swiftly destroyed as I eat the bao taco style, right out of the palm of my hand!  Eaten horizontally or vertically, beef baos might be a little messy but they have come to stay!