We’ve got a copy of the Ile de Pain Cookbook to give away to a lucky Hospitality Marketplace reader!
île de paÏn anytime by Liezie Mulder is published by Quivertree Publications and retails for R450
*Photography by Craig Fraser
Ile de Pain has been a firm favourite with locals and visitors to the Garden Route’s Knysna, and so many will be thrilled to hear that Chef Liezie Mulder has released a new cookbook where she shares some of her favourite recipes and behind-the-scenes stories. The book, published by Quivertree Publications, is called Anytime and takes readers through a delicious day in the life of ile de pain. Chef Liezie takes inspiration from her childhood, her travels, the ingredients she sources to create a menu that’s casual and relaxed, but still creative and interesting. We chatted with Chef Liezie about the book, and she’s shared a delicious recipe for sticky pork buns below.
What inspired you to write the cookbook?
We get so many requests for recipes from customers and I change the menu constantly so we are always testing new recipes. We also travel often and we are so inspired by what we experience and of course eat, that I felt the need to harness all this information. I have so many wonderful food memories. I want to celebrate them, and celebrate food. I wanted to create something lasting, beautiful and useful, something that captures the essence of what we do, and at the same time inspire others.
What would you like readers of the cookbook to ‘get’ from your cookbook?
I would like them to have an all-round experience of what ile de pain is about. I would like the reader to have fun with these recipes, and experiment with them. Each recipe tells a story about the inspiration behind it, they are unusual and fun, well-tested and easy to follow.
What do you think has made Ile de Pain such an enduringly popular restaurant?
I believe it is never just one thing, but many things that have to come together to make it what it is. We try to create an environment where people can come together to celebrate food in a relaxed, happy and light environment with casual but efficient service. Attention to detail, quality and above all consistency is what holds it all together. And in the end it is the people that support and appreciate what we do that have made ile de pain what it is today.
I know it’s impossible to choose, but if pushed, what are some of your favourite recipes in the book?
That is difficult but I would say the Moroccan pie with harissa yogurt, the Lobster rolls, and the steamed buns with sticky pork belly.
STICKY PORK BELLY STEAMED BUNS
The first time I had these mind-blowing little buns was at Momofuku in New York. David Chang is one of my favourite chefs and I have eaten through the entire menu at Momofuku – I love it! This recipe is inspired by him. You will have to start the day before, to rub the pork belly, pickle the cucumber and make sure your pantry is stocked with sticky sauce or BBQ sauce. The steamed buns can also be made ahead and frozen, then reheated in a bamboo steamer.
1 large cucumber
½ cup apple cider vinegar
½ cup mirin (rice wine)
¾ cup white sugar
½ teaspoon fennel seeds, toasted
2 star anise
1cm fresh ginger, sliced
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon coriander seeds, crushed
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons milled black pepper
2 tablespoons salt
½ teaspoon mustard powder
½ teaspoon chilli powder
1kg skinless pork belly
18 steamed buns
6 tablespoons hoisin sauce (or my BBQ sauce or sticky)
6 spring onions, sliced very thinly on a diagonal
1 carrot, peeled and julienned
- Slice the cucumber into 2mm-thick discs. Place them in a bowl.
- Combine the vinegar, mirin, sugar, fennel seeds, anise and ginger in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and pour over cucumber.
- Leave in the refrigerator to cool, preferably overnight.
- Mix all the ingredients for the dry rub together.
- Rub the pork belly with the spice mix on all sides, transfer to a dish and refrigerate overnight. Do not cover it with anything – it needs to dry out.
- The next day, place the pork belly in a roasting pan (no oil needed) to cook at 120˚C for about 2½ hours until tender. Cooking time will depend on the thickness of the belly.
- Remove from the oven, allow to cool down, then wrap the pork belly in plastic and chill it in the fridge. It is much easier to slice when it’s cold. (If you really can’t wait for the pork belly to chill in the fridge, you can leave this step out.)
- Cut the pork belly into 5mm-thick slices.
- Reheat freshly made steamed buns in a bamboo steamer for 2–3 minutes.
- To serve, open the buns and place a piece of pork inside each one, top with a tablespoon of sauce, 2–3 slices of pickled cucumber, a sprinkle of spring onions and a few carrot strips.
The mild acidity of mirin is what I like about using it in a pickling liquid. You could substitute it with vinegar, but it will give the liquid a harsher acidity.
If you want a perfectly roasted pork belly (not for the steamed buns but as a meal in its own right), ask the butcher to leave the skin on and score it for you. Follow the instructions for cooking the pork belly as above. It is important when roasting a whole belly to keep the skin side as dry as possible. Rub it with salt before you place it in the oven, and at the end of the 2½ hours cooking time, turn the temperature up to 200˚C for about 20 minutes to crisp up the skin.
Steamed buns (or bao) are probably the biggest Asian food craze to hit our palates (well, since sushi). Tender sticky pork belly would be just the thing to place on this pillowy light bun. Add a bit of spring onion, a pickled vegetable or hit it with a bit of spicy kimchi – it really doesn’t matter what you do with it, it will be delicious. Make enough so that each person gets at least two or three buns, because there’s no stopping at just one!
600g bread flour
40g cold unsalted butter, cut into 2cm cubes
25g fresh yeast (or 10g instant dry yeast)
flour, for dusting
oil, for shaping buns
fillings of your choice
- Toss 100g of the flour with the butter cubes in a mixing bowl and refrigerate.
- Combine the rest of the flour (500g), sugar and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer. (If you are using instant yeast, add it in now.)
- Add the milk and egg and blend for 2 minutes on low speed using the dough hook attachment.
- Crumble the fresh yeast into the bowl and continue mixing for another 5 minutes on medium speed, until the dough becomes smooth and elastic.
- Add the chilled floury butter cubes and knead on medium speed for 2 minutes. The butter must be well incorporated. The dough should be smooth, elastic and have a silky sheen. Mix for another minute, if necessary. The dough temperature should be about 26˚C.
- Cover with plastic wrap and leave to ferment at room temperature for about an hour, or doubled in size.
- Tip out onto a well-floured surface. Fold the top edge over the centre of the dough, then the bottom edge over the centre, then the right side over the centre and the left side over the centre, pressing down firmly each time. Repeat these four folds one more time until you have a nice tight ball of dough.
- Place back into the bowl, seam side down, and leave to rest for 30 minutes.
- Tip the dough out onto a floured surface. Divide into eighteen 50g portions, shape into balls and leave to rest, covered with a cloth, for 15 minutes.
- Cut out 18 squares of wax paper and lightly oil them, as well as a smooth work surface.
- Working with one ball at a time, flatten with the palm of your hand, then use a rolling pin to shape the dough into an oval.
- Lightly rub with a tiny bit of oil. Fold the oval in half onto itself to form a half-moon shape.
- Place the bun on a wax paper square and cover with a cloth. Continue shaping the rest of the buns.
- Leave them to proof, covered, for 30–40 minutes until slightly puffy (but not doubled in size).
- Heat a pot of water on medium heat and place a large bamboo steamer basket on top. Keep the water at a light boil.
- Place a few buns, still on their wax paper squares, in the basket (as many buns as can comfortably fit in) and steam for 8 minutes per batch.
- Remove from the steamer and set aside (or serve immediately). Steam the next batch.
- To serve, peel off the paper, open the bun up, add your filling and chow down!
To freeze the buns for later, allow them to cool down before placing them, with their wax paper squares, in an airtight container. Lay them out in a single layer so that they don’t get squished. Then simply pop them in the steamer frozen to reheat and revive – they will taste completely fresh.
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