Chinese Barbecue Pork Buns with Vegetable "Noodles"
In this easy riff on traditional Chinese pork buns, we use quick-cooking pork tenderloin instead of the more common pork belly or spareribs, which cuts down on the cooking time substantially. And, because making folded Chinese buns can be a bit tricky, here we use store-bought buns, which can be found in the freezer section of most stores specializing in Asian groceries. Bright, crunchy spiralized vegetables dressed with rice vinegar add a welcome brightness to the savory pork buns. Serve them alongside the pork buns—or tuck a few of the vegetable strands into the buns before eating them.
For the pork:
- 1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml) soy sauce
- 1/4 cup (2 fl. oz./60 ml) hoisin sauce
- 1/4 cup (2 fl. oz./60 ml) rice vinegar
- 1/4 cup (2 oz./60 g) light brown sugar
- 2 garlic cloves, grated
- 2 tsp. Chinese five-spice powder
- 1 tsp. chili garlic paste
- 1 pork tenderloin, about 2 lb. (1 kg)
- Canola oil for brushing
For the vegetable “noodles”:
- 2 large carrots, peeled
- 1 large zucchini
- 1 large daikon or watermelon radish, peeled
- 3 Tbs. rice vinegar
- 1 Tbs. Asian sesame oil
- Kosher salt
- 16 store-bought folded Chinese buns, steamed according to the package instructions
- 1/2 cup (3/4 oz./20 g) fresh cilantro leaves
- 1/2 cup (2 oz./60 g) thinly sliced radishes
- 1/2 cup (3 oz./90 g) roasted peanut halves
To make the marinade for the pork, in a large nonreactive bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, hoisin, rice vinegar, brown sugar, garlic, five-spice powder, and chili garlic paste until the sugar is dissolved and the ingredients are thoroughly combined. Place the pork in the bowl in the bowl so that it’s covered by the marinade. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to overnight.
To make the vegetable noodles, using a spiralizer, spiralize the carrots, zucchini and radish using the second-thinnest blade. Place all the vegetables in a bowl and add the rice vinegar and sesame oil. Toss to coat and season to taste with salt. Cover and let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours.
About 30 minutes before you plan to begin grilling, remove the pork from the refrigerator and let sit in the marinade at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Preheat a Philips Smoke-Less Grill fitted with the barbecue grid according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Brush the cooking surface lightly with canola oil.
Remove the pork from the marinade; reserve the marinade. Place the pork on the grill and cook, turning once or twice, until the outside is nicely grill-marked and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the tenderloin registers 145°F (63°C), about 20 minutes.
While the pork is cooking, transfer the reserved marinade to a small saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook until the mixture has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Transfer the pork to a carving board and let rest for 5 minutes. Slice the pork into rounds about 1/4 inch (6 mm) thick. To assemble, fill each of the buns with a few pieces of pork and drizzle with a little of the reduced marinade. Top with the some of the cilantro leaves, radishes and peanuts and serve immediately with the vegetable noodles alongside. Serves 6 to 8.
Williams Sonoma Test Kitchen