Recipe: Pork buns from Swish by Han, a down-and-dirty Korean take on the trendy snack

Recipe: Pork buns from Swish by Han, a down-and-dirty Korean take on the trendy snack

Recipe: Pork buns

By Leemo and Leeto Han
Swish by Han

PREP TIME: 15 minutes | COOK TIME: 10 minutes
Serves 4 to 6

1½ cups gochujang
2- to 3-inch piece of ginger, finely grated
¼ cup each soy sauce and mirin cooking wine
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp plus 2 tsp sesame oil
2 lbs pork neck or pork shoulder, thinly sliced
3 tbsp each canola oil and Korean corn syrup or maple syrup
4 slices cheese, such as American or mild white cheddar
4–6 onion rolls
2 tbsp each butter and mayonnaise

1 bunch green onions, chopped
4 shallots, chopped
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp each sesame seeds and kosher or sea salt
4 tsp freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp–1 tbsp red chili flakes, preferably Korean

1. Prepare pork marinade by stirring chili paste with ginger, soy, mirin, garlic and 2 tbsp sesame oil in a medium bowl. Pour into a heavy-duty resealable bag or large bowl. Add pork. Massage meat until evenly coated with marinade. Refrigerate overnight.

2. Toss relish ingredients, 2 tsp sesame oil and 1 tsp chili until sugar and salt dissolve. Taste and stir in more chili as needed. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Relish will keep well covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days.

3. Coat a large frying pan with 2 tbsp oil and heat over medium-high heat. Shake excess marinade off pork and add in batches to pan, being careful not to overcrowd. Cook pork for 2 minutes on each side until cooked through. Adjust heat as needed. When all pork is done, place back in pan. Remove from heat. Stir in syrup and place cheese slices on top. Cover for 1 minute.

4. Slice buns and butter each side. Place buttered bun halves in a hot pan over medium-high heat. Cook, pressing lightly as needed, for 1 to 2 minutes until lightly toasted. You’ll need to toast in batches. Spread mayonnaise on buns, then pile pork and cheese on bottom halves. Add a spoonful of relish. Top with toasted bun halves. Serve immediately.

You’ll find most ingredients for this recipe—including sliced pork and all the Korean condiments—at P.A.T. Central Market in Koreatown (675 Bloor St. W., 416-532-2961).

Leemo and Leeto HanLEEMO AND LEETO HAN

Swish by Han, the boom box–blasting restaurant from brothers Leemo and Leeto Han, was one of the first places to bring hipster Asian food to Toronto, in 2009. The Financial District restaurant served tricked-out versions of Korean tacos, ­kimchee and pork buns two years before everyone else in the city filled their menus with the same stuff. The Philadelphia-born brothers’ take on the absurdly popular steamed pork bun embodies the down-and-dirty flavours of a Philly hoagie and cheese steak. It’s made with a fresh-baked onion roll, a healthy dollop of mayo and, the pièce de résistance, four slices of American cheese. The Swish bun is nowhere near traditional, but after one bite, any concerns about authenticity will disappear as quickly as the sloppy, spicy pocket.

Recipes developed by Victoria Walsh. Recipe photography by Ryan Szulc. Portrait photography by Raina and Wilson. Illustrations by Aleksandar Janicijevic. Interviews by Denise Balkissoon, Ariel Brewster, Andrew D’Cruz, Jennifer Goldberg, Matthew Hague, Claire Hastings, Bronwen Jervis and Simone Olivero.