So, Father’s Day was last week. My original plan was to have one big family brunch with my parents and the in-laws, since Dan’s family was already in town for a family wedding, but then I found out there was already a big post-wedding brunch planned with the bride’s family, so…the great Rodgers-Hu Father’s Day Get Together of 2014 didn’t happen.
We actually didn’t even get to see my parents at all last weekend, which was kind of a bummer, but we did get to spend rare quality time with Dan’s parents and brothers (always a good time) so on the whole it was a pretty great weekend.
Still, I felt kinda bad about missing Father’s Day with my own dad, so we scheduled a belated celebration lunch for this weekend. Lucky for me, my dad is super chill about these things – he doesn’t care when or how we celebrate birthdays and holidays, as long as he gets to see us at some point. Awwwwwwww, Dad…
For his belated Father’s Day lunch, my dad’s only requests were to keep it simple, have at least one meat dish, and remember that he’s still supposed to be on a diet. He didn’t care if the food was Asian or American, but since I almost always cook Chinese food when my parents come over, it was a good bet that his Father’s Day meal would be too (mostly, anyway).
I agonized over the menu all week, but eventually decided on sauteed asparagus, caprese salad (probably one of my parents’ favorite things to eat at our house, especially if Dan makes it for them), stir fried green beans, veggie fried rice, skinny meatballs with hoisin sauce, and Momofuku steamed pork buns. Oh, and hazelnut chocolate mousse for dessert. Totally simple, totally doable, and not totally diet-busting…right?
When I told Dan what I was planning to make for lunch, he told me that I was crazy, that per usual I was making too much food, and that I would never get it all done unless I woke up at the crack of dawn…to which I responded: CHALLENGE ACCEPTED, SIR.
To make things easier for myself, I mixed up the meatball filling ahead of time, prepped the pork belly for over-night brining, and even made a batch of over-night pickles to go with our pork buns. The vegetables and fried rice could all be cooked on the day-of, no problem. And, mousse takes like 3 seconds to make or something.
So I went to bed feeling awesome. Totally on top of things. I was the best! Of course, this feeling of smug competence lasted until about 30 seconds after my alarm went off at 9am, at which point I realized that I needed at least 3 hours to cook the pork belly, I had forgotten to make the buns for the pork buns, and I still needed to vacuum and dust everything in the house…all before my parents arrived at noon. Also, mousse takes way long than 3 seconds to make, especially if you take into account how long it needs to chill in the fridge before serving. Oy.
It’s times like these that I really, truly appreciate having a husband around. Without saying “I told you so,” Dan stepped right into the breach and did all the vacuuming/dusting, set the table, decanted the wine, helped me make the caprese salad, and generally just did his best to keep me from going crazy. He’s the best, I tell you!
But even with his help, by the time my parents arrived I had to scrap two dishes (the fried rice and green beans), and Dan had to entertain them by himself while I flew around the kitchen like a crazy woman, frantically sauteing asparagus, slicing pork belly, and trying to get all the buns out of the steamer without hurting myself. It was an ordeal.
Luckily, all the food turned out great! The pork buns were a particular hit with my parents, who loved the tangy homemade pickles, raved over the crispy pork belly, and were amazed that the fluffy buns were made in 15 minutes without any yeast or lengthy prepping (thank god for Steamy Kitchen’s short cut recipe). My dad ate three pork buns in the less than 10 minutes, and then demanded the recipe for his next dinner party. Considering what amazing cooks my parents are, that is the highest compliment they could have paid me!
- ½ cup coarse salt
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 skinless, boneless pork belly (5 pounds)
- Buns (see below)
- Hoisin sauce, for serving
- Pickled cucumbers, for serving (see below)
- 1 large cucumber
- 1 cup water
- ⅓ cup white vinegar
- 4 tbsp sugar
- ½ cup green onion, chopped
- 1-2 tsp salt
- 2 cans Pillsbury Grand Buttermlik Biscuits
- Flour, for dusting
- Squares of parchment/wax paper
- Prep your pickles - slice your cucumber into thin slices (1/4-inch thick or less), and throw them into a medium-sized bowl with the water, vinegar, sugar, salt (to taste), and green onions. Stir and then refrigerate until you're ready to eat.
- In a small bowl, mix together salt and sugar. Rub salt mixture all over pork belly, cover, and refrigerate up to 10 hours.
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
- Rinse brined pork to remove salt mixture and pat dry; transfer to a roasting pan.
- Roast pork until very tender, about 2½ hours. (About 30 minutes for every pound of pork)
- Increase temperature to 450 degrees. Continue roasting pork until fat is golden, about 20 minutes more.
- Remove pork from the oven, and allow it to cool for 30 minutes before either slicing it or transferring to a refrigerator.
- While your pork belly is cooling, make your buns. Dust work surface with the flour. Open one can of dough. Separate out the biscuits.
- Using a rolling pin, roll each biscuit into an oval and fold in half. Place folded dough on a parchment square. Keep covered until ready to steam.
- Prepare your steamer, and place folded dough (with their parchment squares) onto a large dinner plate. Carefully lower the plate into the steamer. Cover, and steam the buns for 12-13 minutes. Repeat with the second can of dough. (Steam the buns in batches, avoid overcrowding the plate while steaming otherwise the buns will stick to each other - they puff up a lot while steaming)
- To serve, slice pork across the grain (if serving later, return slices to baking dish with its juices, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve, up to 3 days).
- Pull open a steamed bun, smear on some hoisin sauce, and lay a few pieces of pork and pickled cucumber on top.
- Fold, bite, and enjoy!