I was determined to make three sandwiches this weekend–particularly on Saturday. E wanted to go kite surfing on Sunday, tearing me away from the kitchen and computer all day. Though the weather was perfect for the beach, I had to get my laundry done, clean the house, do a mask for my face, work out and work on sandwiches before I was able to have a clear mind and have any fun.
I was exhausted thinking about all of the work I had to do before I could go play. All E had to do was throw his stuff in a bag and go. No worries. No thoughts about work or work he should have done or could have done. Just relaxation. Some days I wish I were a man.
I started checking things off my to do list, while E and thought of easy sandwiches I could make for lunch—and dinner. “Let’s do buns. Like Momofuku style Asian buns.” A genius idea.
“I can do steak, chicken and pork buns,” I said. “BOOM! Three sandwiches in one go! Done!”
E gave me a nervous look. He does that whenever I pick up the pace with the sandwiches and get closer to my goal.
We met in Chinatown to hunt for buns, those tender, white poofy pillows of dough that chefs in the best Asian restaurants (or ramen joints) fill with pork belly and shredded shrimp. Along the way we picked up tiger shrimp, chicken, hanger steak, scallion, cilantro, and watermelon (for a cocktail to accompany the buns. I’ll tell y’all about it later.).
Premade buns are actually the way to go when making these at home. Even the king of buns, Momofuku chef David Chang—who sold enough of his addictive pork belly buns to build his Momofuku empire–recommends you use the frozen kind. We found those at a place right north of Canal Street, and bought 3 packages of 10.
I called up a couple of friends and told them to come over for dinner. “Buns and wine!” I offered. I slow cooked chicken teriyaki, while searing steak and shrimp. By dusk, everyone was passing around buns, stuffing them with meat of their choice, shredded carrots and cucumber, scallion and chopped peanuts. My guests washed them all down with Rosé and the mint watermelon cocktail I made up with the fruit I bought today.
I’ll post up the individual recipes of for each bun over the next few days, but I’ll kick it off with the hanger steak. Hoisin sauce gave it a sweet smoky kick, and the fried shallot gave it a crunchy bite.
“You did a fantastic job. I”m impressed,” E said.
The next day, I played with the boys on the beach.
1 half pound hanger steak
1/2 cup hoisin sauce
1/4 cup chopped peanuts
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup mint, chopped
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 shallot, sliced (optional)
1 cup canola or vegetable oil (optional)
Season steak with salt and pepper. Sear steak over medium low heat until cooked to desired temperature (we liked medium). Remove from heat and let rest.
(optional) Fry shallots: Fry the shallots in a tall saucepan with the canola oil over medium high heat until golden brown, about 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat and drain on a paper towel-line plate.
Steam buns in a steamer or a microwave according to directions. Slather on hoisin sauce.
Slice meat thinly and layer on the bun. Sprinkle on cilantro, mint, and chopped peanuts. Yields at least six buns.