Mei Mei founders Margaret, Andrew and Irene Li used their noodles to whip up Double Awesome Chinese Food, a cookbook combining beloved recipes from the restaurant and food truck with childhood favorites and dishes from their own kitchens. The book—named after Mei Mei’s best-selling scallion pancake sandwich—peppers cooking tips, local sourcing strategies and anecdotes amid ingredient-focused chapters covering topics like seafood, vegetables and dumplings. “We’re hoping to pass on some of the wisdom and experience we’ve gained over six years of running a food truck and restaurant,” Margaret says. “We’d love this book to get grease-stained from regular use in your kitchen, not sit on your coffee table and look pretty.”
With their book hitting shelves on Feb. 5—just in time for Chinese New Year—the culinary trio suggests celebrating the Year of the Pig by cooking their five-spice pork shoulder recipe or hosting a dumpling party, where guests get their hands doughy folding the traditional treats. “The best part is freezing all the extras and giving everyone bags of dumplings to take home,” Margaret says.
Check out a recipe for five-spice pork shoulder with whole wheat steamed buns from Double Awesome Chinese Food below »
Serves 6 to 8, with sides
For pork shoulder:
One 2-inch piece fresh ginger, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon five-spice powder
1½ teaspoons kosher salt
One 4- to 6-pound boneless skinless pork shoulder or 5 to 7 pounds bone-in skinless pork shoulder
1½ cups orange juice
Whole Wheat Steamed Buns (recipe follows)
Quick Pickled Carrot
Sriracha Aioli, Soy Aioli or mayonnaise mixed with sriracha
Cranberry Sweet and Sour Sauce or store-bought hoisin sauce
Thinly sliced scallions
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Combine the ginger, garlic, maple syrup, soy sauce, five-spice powder and salt in a small bowl or food processor and stir or pulse to mix thoroughly. Pat the pork dry with paper towels, then rub it all over with the spice mixture. Put the pork into a roasting pan or Dutch oven with the fat facing up. Pour the orange juice into the pan around the shoulder and place in the oven.
Roast for 30 minutes to brown the shoulder, then lower the oven temperature to 265°F (130°C) and roast for 6 to 8 hours more, opening the oven every so often to baste the shoulder with the juices. I like the way the meat starts to fall apart after about 8 hours, but if you’re slightly short on time, you can cook it less (depending on the size of your shoulder)—the texture may be more sliceable than shreddable. Carefully pull the pot out of the oven. Using tongs and a large fork (or a knife and cutting board if needed), shred the meat in the pot and stir it into the fat and juices at the bottom, where all the flavor is hanging out. Stuff into steamed buns and serve with pickles, sriracha, sauce and scallions.
WHOLE WHEAT STEAMED BUNS
Makes 12 buns
½ cup warm water
2¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1½ cups bread flour or all-purpose flour
1½ cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ cup whole milk
¼ cup rendered pork fat or unsalted butter, at room temperature
Combine the water, yeast and 1 teaspoon of the sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Stir and let sit until it gets foamy on top, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining ¼ cup sugar, the flours, salt and baking powder to the bowl and mix on the lowest setting to combine. Add the milk and pork fat, turn the mixer up a notch, and knead for 10 minutes, or until the dough gathers into a smooth and pliable ball on the hook. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl and turn it over to coat with the oil. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel and let the dough rise, preferably somewhere warm, until roughly doubled in size, 1½ to 2 hours. While the dough rises, cut out 12 squares of parchment paper, roughly 3 inches across.
Once the dough has risen, punch it down to deflate and transfer it to a clean work surface. Use a dough cutter or sharp knife to cut the dough into 3 roughly equal pieces. Roll each piece into a log and divide it into 4, giving you 12 dough lumps. One at a time, use one hand to roll each lump into a ball. Flatten the bottom of each ball slightly by pressing down into your work surface as you roll. Place each ball onto a square of parchment, cover lightly with plastic wrap, and let rise for 40 minutes more.
Pour water to come 3 inches up the sides of a large pot and set up a steamer. Bring to a boil over high heat, then, working in batches if necessary, carefully place the buns inside with some space in between. Steam for 15 minutes, or until the buns are fluffy and dry. Let cool a little (they come out very hot), then slice in half to stuff with deliciousness. They’re excellent at room temperature, or they can be refrigerated or frozen in an airtight container. To reheat from frozen, steam until soft (about 10 minutes, but this can vary greatly depending on your steamer setup). If they’re refrigerated, microwave for 30 seconds for a pillowy soft, lava-hot bun. Or try the untraditional-yet-undeniably-tasty method—slice in half, brush with butter, and toast or griddle until golden brown.