STEP-BY-STEP INSTRUCTIONS WITH PICTURES
Braise The Pork Belly
I have got here 2lb of pork belly. The store already sliced it into 2/3-inch thick slaps, which is perfect.
Preheat your clay pot over medium heat until nice and hot. Place a few belly slaps and pan-fry them for 1-2 minutes on each side. You can cover the lid, so you don't get oil splatters all over your countertop. Flip and pan-fry the other side. We are not trying to brown the pork belly. We just want to render a little fat out.
I have tried browning the belly until golden; The meat becomes dry and stringy at the end so don’t do that.
Turn off the heat. Remove the meat from the clay pot and check how much oil you got. We don't need a lot, so I am not going to pan-fry the rest of the belly. You can if you want, but it won't change the final flavor. Why bother? A tbsp of oil should be enough to saute the diced shallots, minced garlic, minced ginger, star anise, cinnamon, and bay leaves.
Keep stirring on low heat. When the bottom of the clay pot feels sticky, that is the time to add the rest of the seasonings: 1/2 tsp of five-spice powder, some freshly ground white pepper, 2.5 tbsp of sugar, 1/4 cup of Chinese cooking wine, and 5 tbsp of soy sauce. We will also use 1 tbsp of dark soy sauce for the color.
Add the seared and uncooked pork into the clay pot and pour 2-3 cups of water. Adjust the pieces, so everything stays under the water. Then put on the lid and wait for it to come to a boil. Turn the heat to the lowest and simmer for 1.5 hours.
Make the steamed lotus bun, or what we call 荷叶饼.
Add 2 tbsp of sugar, and 2 tsp of yeast into 210g of lukewarm water. Stir well and wait a few minutes for the yeast to bloom. If you are using instant yeast, you don’t have to wait.
Add the flour (400g). Give that a rough stir to incorporate everything. Then knead the dough by using a stand mixer on low speed for 10 minutes or until the dough is nice and smooth. If you knead it by hand, it will also take about 10 minutes.
Cover the dough and let it proof for 1 hour or until it is doubled in size.
Make the Peanut Powder
While waiting for the dough to rise, we have plenty of time to make the toppings. The first one is peanut powder, which is super simple. Add 1/2 cup of roasted but unsalted peanut, and 3 tbsp of sugar into a blender. Blend into a rough peanut powder and set it aside.
Cook the pickled mustard green.
Pickled mustard green provides some crunch, as well as a bit of acid to balance the fattiness of the pork belly. I think it is kind of similar that western people like to put pickled cucumber or jalapeno on their burgers. Yes, you can use them as a replacement if you can’t find the pickled mustard green.
I always feel that store-bought pickled mustard green is extra salty. So I like to quickly rinse it and squeeze the water out to reduce its sodium level. Of course, it depends on the brand. You can always taste yours before cooking.
The pork belly has been simmered for almost an hour now. Scoop out some fat that is floating on top of the brine.
scoop some fat from the clay pot
We will use that to saute the mustard green. It is salty already so we don’t need to add any more seasoning. Stir for a few minutes and remove everything to the side.
Check Back the dough and continue to make the lotus bun
Now let’s check the dough. It has doubled in size. Pouch to deflate it then divide it into 12 even pieces. Each one should weigh about 50 grams.
Roll all of them into round little balls. Take a piece. Flatten it with your hand. Dust with a little bit flour to prevent stickiness. Use a rolling pin to roll it into a flat oval sheet. The thickness is about 1/3 of an inch. Brush some oil on 1/2 of the sheet. Then fold it over.
Put the lotus bun on parchment paper to prevent stickiness. Then put it into a steamer.Before we turn on the heat to steam. We will let them proof in the steamer for another 20 minutes or until it is 1.5 times of the size. This will depend on your room temperature.
Turn the heat to high and bring the water to a boil. Then you can start counting the time for 12 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the buns rest in the steamer for 10 minutes before you open the lid or else they will shrink once they make contact with the cold air.
While waiting, let’s take a look at the pork belly. It has been simmered a little bit more than 1.5 hours. They are super tender now. You can break it open by using a pair of chopsticks. Alright, let’s assemble the burgers.
Now you can open the lid and take one of that fluffy steamed buns out. Open it up. Place a layer of the pickled mustard green.
These pork slaps are very big, you can break them in half by using a pair of scissors. Stuff it in between the steamed bun.
Make sure you scoop in some of that flavorful sauce. Sprinkle the peanut powder on the top. Add some cilantro as garnish. I like to put a little bit of diced red chili on the top. If you don’t like spicy food, you can use bell pepper.
Look how beautiful that is!