If you feel like having a crack at your own steamed buns, you can find good recipes all over the internet. I tend to use the frozen buns that you can buy from most Asian grocers or good supermarkets, as they are cheap as chips and so bloody good. Kimchi is right ‘on point’ these days and adds a wonderful heat, texture and cut through to anything rich. I’m also a huge fan of pork knuckles (hock) as they have so much flavour, and a delicious texture with the combination of gelatinous fat and crackling. This is good time party food!
Step 1: Daikon Kimchi
Place the first 11 ingredients in the food processor and blitz to a smooth paste. Set aside.
Mix the 4 cups of water and 1 ½ tablespoons of salt together in a large mixing bowl. Split the cabbage in half, then each half into four quarters. Soak the cabbage in the salted water for 2-3 hours at room temperature, until slightly wilted.
Drain off the water, then place cabbage into a large mixing bowl. With clean hands, rub cabbage with half of the paste you made earlier. Add in the sliced carrot, daikon and spring onion, then add in remaining paste and rub into the vegetables thoroughly. Pack the vegetables (including juice) into large pickling jars and seal tightly.
Keep the jar(s) at room temperature for two days, and then move to store in the refrigerator. You want to see some light bubbling happening in the juices. The kimchi is best eaten after two weeks, and can be kept refrigerated indefinitely.
Step 2: Roasted Pork Knuckles
Pre heat your oven to 200 degrees.
Take the pork knuckles (hocks) and score the skin with a sharp knife every half centre metre or so. I always use a ‘Stanley Knife’ for scoring tough pork skin. Rub liberal amounts of salt into the scored skin and season with a bit of black pepper. Place in an oven tray with a splash of oil and the water.
Pop in the oven and cook for 20-30 minutes until the skin begins to bubble and crackle. Turn the heat down to about 140 degrees, then continue to cook, for up two hours. The hocks are ready when the meat pulls away from the bone with little or no resistance.
If the crackling hasn’t done its thing by the time the meat is ready, give the hocks another blast on high heat for 10 minutes or so until crisp and golden. Remove and let the hocks cool slightly.
Step 3: Cooking and Serving
Pour the water into a saucepan and place on medium/high heat to boil. Set bamboo steamer, or similar, on top of the saucepan and heat your buns in batches, for about two minutes each batch, until soft and piping hot.
Take a knife and cut or pull the crackling from the pork knuckles, exposing the meat. Pull the meat from the bones and chop up any large pieces to a more manageable size. Lightly season with salt. Chop up the crispiest cracking.
Gently open the buns and fill with roasted pork and crackling, a little kimchi and a few coriander leaves. Eat now!
Photography by Kieran Scott