1.2 kg higher-welfare pork belly, bone out
400 mL semi-skimmed milk
50 g unsalted butter (at room temperature)
700 g good-quality Tipo 00 flour, plus extra for dusting
1 heaping Tbsp caster sugar
1 (7g) sachet dried yeast
1 heaping tsp each baking powder, bicarbonate of soda
Pickles and Garnish Bowls
1 bunch radishes
2 tsp caster sugar
6 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 heaping Tbsp sesame seeds
4 spring onions
8 sprigs fresh coriander
1 fresh red chilli
1. Start cooking the pork a day ahead. Preheat the oven to 140ºC/275ºF/gas 1. Carefully remove the pork skin from the belly (your butcher can do this for you) and pop into the fridge. In a large roasting tray, rub the belly with sesame oil and season with a good pinch of sea salt and sugar. Cover tightly with a double layer of tin foil and cook for 5 hours, then remove, cool and refrigerate in the same tray overnight.
1. The next day, by hand or in a free-standing electric mixer, combine all the bun ingredients with 1 level teaspoon of salt, then knead for 10 minutes. Place in a bowl, cover with cling ﬁlm and prove for 1 hour. Knock the dough back and divide into 20 equal pieces. Roll into smooth balls, place on a ﬂour-dusted tray, cover with a damp tea towel and prove for another hour. One-by-one, with a rolling pin, roll the balls into 10cm x 12cm ovals. Lay an oiled chopstick across the middle like a hinge, fold the dough in half over the top and pull the chopstick out. Place each bun on a little rectangle of greaseproof paper in bamboo steamers, in single layers, ready for steaming later.
Pickles and Garnish Bowls
1. Preheat the oven to full whack (240ºC/475ºF/gas 9). For the garnish bowls, I like to make quick pickles by ﬁnely slicing the cucumbers and radishes on a mandolin (use the guard!) into separate bowls. Sprinkle each with ½ a teaspoon of salt (don’t worry– most will drain away), then divide the sugar and vinegar between them. Toss and pop into the fridge until needed. Lightly toast the sesame seeds and decant into another bowl.Trim the spring onions, then ﬁnely slice lengthways and pop into a bowl of ice- cold water so they curl up. Pick the coriander leaves. Finely slice the chilli. Place the pork skin on a tray, season and roast until puffy and crackled, keeping a close eye on it, then remove – once cool, smash up.
2. When you’re ready to go, slice the pork 1 cm thick, then halve each slice, return it in a single layer,to the tray it was cooked in, and roast in the oven until golden, draining away the excess fat occasionally to help it crisp up.At the same time, steam the buns over a pan of simmering water for 8 to 10 minutes, or until ﬂuffy.Scrunch and squeeze the pickles to get rid of the excess salty liquid,then transfer to clean bowls. Take everything to the table with a bottle of hoisin and let everyone build their own.