Pulled Pork & Pear Bao Buns
Chef Nick Machcinski
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, Mich.
If a Lunar New Year buffet is part of the plan, these handheld bao buns are a popular option. Chef Nick Machcinski of University of Michigan fills them a mixture of pulled pork and diced pears, balancing the sweet and savory flavors with a spicy gochujang marinade. A cool cucumber and pear relish adds contrast.
2 cans (15 oz. each) canned pears in light syrup, diced
½ small red onion, diced
5 green onions, cut in 1-in. lengths
¼ cup plus 2 tbsp. gochujang
1 tbsp. finely minced garlic
1 tbsp. finely minced ginger
3 oz. soy sauce
1 oz. rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp. kosher salt
1 tbsp. sesame oil
1 boneless pork butt, approximately 6½ lb., fat cap trimmed
24 bao buns
Bias-sliced green onions, chopped cilantro and toasted sesame seeds, for garnish
Pear & Cucumber Topping
2 cans (15 oz. each) pears in light syrup, diced and liquid reserved
1 jalapeno, seeded, ribs removed and finely minced
½ med. red onion, finely diced
½ English cucumber, finely diced
1½ tbsp. toasted sesame seeds
1 tbsp. sesame oil
1 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
1 tsp. kosher salt
1. For marinade, combine pears and their liquid, red and green onions, gochujang, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, vinegar, salt, and oil. Stir to combine and set aside.
2. Preheat oven to 350 F. Place trimmed pork butt in roasting pan and pour marinade over pork. Cover pan with parchment paper and foil; cook approximately 6 hours or until pork begins to fall apart.
3. Remove pork from oven, pour off marinade and reserve; set pork aside to cool slightly. Skim fat from marinade. Transfer marinade to blender and puree; return to a large saucepan and cook over medium heat to reduce slightly.
4. Meanwhile, for topping, combine drained, diced pears, jalapeno, red onion and cucumber in mixing bowl. Add some of reserved liquid from pears; stir in sesame seeds, oil, vinegar and salt. Stir to combine, adding more reserved pear juice as needed for flavor, moisture and consistency. Refrigerate up to 4 days.
5. Shred pork and toss with reduced marinade; heat through. To assemble, steam bao buns according to package directions. Fill with pork, top with a spoonful of pear-cucumber topping and garnish with green onions, cilantro and sesame seeds.
Photo courtesy of Pacific Northwest Canned Pears