Momofuko Milk Bar: Chinese Sausage Focaccia


We had some leftover Lup Chong from our Gok’s Chinese Feast the other night, and while perusing my Momofuko Milk Bar cookbook (with a hankering for Crack Pie… that recipe coming up) I stumbled across this recipe for Chinese Sausage Focaccia. I love those sweet greasy little suckers, so the thought of them embedded in my focaccia sounded pretty good to me. The hitch of course is that while I’m a baking demon for cakes and cookies and the like, bread has never been my forte. However undeterred I rolled up my sleeves and gave it a go. It looks pretty good, right? And even though it never really rose to fill the pan as the recipe promised me it would, I don’t think we can hold that against recipe author Christina Tosi, who – from her cookbook anyway – sounds absolutely awesome. I comforted myself with the fact that focaccia is meant to be flattish, and got on with it.

Handy hint: the recipe calls for 1/3 of a cup of toban djan, or chilli bean paste. I figured that would be  bit too hot (especially seeing as the chilli bean paste I have at home is pushing one million on the Scoville Scale) so I toned it down a bit and went with about 1/6 of a cup. In retrospect, that should have been even less, because this certainly is a spicy little number.I’ve scarfed down a couple of fresh slices of the focaccia, and they were … piquant … to say the least.  Hot, would be more truthful. Great at encouraging me to up my liquid intake for the day. I think I also deserved a fail on finely slicing my garlic; while I did my best the slices never really became translucent in the cooking as they were supposed to. But on the upside, I didn’t include any sliced finger in the actual focaccia, so you know, it’s a kind of swings and roundabouts situation.

So now, my little chinese sausages, I’ve posted the slightly-adulterated recipe after the jump. It’s basically in two sections – the first for what Ms Tosi describes as her “Mother Dough” which can be used in a range of recipes, and the second (easy) part for the actual focaccia filling and construction.

Chinese Sausage Focaccia

  • 550g flour
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 3.5g (1-and-1/8 tsp) active dry yeast
  • 1-and-3/4 cups warmish water
  • 340g Lap Chong (Chinese Sausages, available from Asian shops and some supermarkets)
  • 8 garlic cloves
  • 150g rice bran oil
  • 20g chilli bean paste

Mother Dough:

  1. Stir together the flour, salt and yeast in the bowl of your stand mixer by hand (using the dough hook as a spoon). Continue stirring by hand as you add the water, mixing for 1 minute, until the mixture has come together in a kind of shaggy mass.
  2. Engage the bowl and hook and have the machine mix the dough on the lowest speed for 3 minutes, or until the dough ball is smoother and more cohesive. Then knock it up a couple of notches and knead for 5 additional minutes. The dough should look like a wet ball and bounce back softly when prodded.
  3. Spray a large bowl with oil and dump the dough into it. Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough proof at room temperature for at least and hour or until it has doubled in size.

Meanwhile …

  1. Using a sharp knife, cut each of the lup chong in half lengthways, and then slice into 12 half-moons per sausage length.
  2. Cut the garlic cloves into thin slices on a bias … the thinner you can get them the better, but just do your best … no-one wants to find a fingertip in their focaccia, you know?
  3. Combine the oil, chilli bean paste, lip chong and garlic in a saucepan and cook over medium-low heat for 15 minutes. The oil will turn red, the lip chong will release its own fat, and the garlic will (technically, depending on your knife skills) become translucent.
  4. Strain the oil through a fine sieve and set aside for later. Set the sausage and garlic aside as well. Try not to eat any more of them than is absolutely necessary.
  5. Punch down and flatten your proofed mother dough on a smooth, dry countertop. (I should have floured mine first I think as my dough was still pretty sticky – I’m sure if I had known what I was doing I would probably realise it hadn’t quite proofed sufficiently).
  6. Stretch the dough gently by hand until it is slightly longer and wider than what the Americans refer to as a “quarter sheet pan”, which is about half to size of a lamington tin. (I coincidentally just bought a set of baking tins from CostCo, so was delighted to discover that for once I actually had the right size tray. I should also confess here that my gentle dough-stretching abilities are a tad lacking, so I ended out rolling my dough out. For all I know this too is a no-no, but c’est la vie).
  7. Visualise dividing your dough lengthwise in thirds. Spread half the sausage and garlic down the centre third of the dough.
  8. Fold the right third of the dough over the top of the sausage mixture, and then cover with the remaining sausage-garlic filling.
  9. Fold the left third of the dough over the top layer of sausage, tucking it in nicely at each end.
  10. Gently lift the dough at both ends (this makes me very nervous – I used a pizza oven slice) and transfer to your quarter sheet baking pan.
  11. Cover loosely with plastic and allow the dough to rise at room temperature until doubled in size. Ms Tosi says this should take about 45 minutes … I left mine for much more than that and it never really expanded sufficiently to fill the pan.
  12. Heat the oven to 190°C.
  13. Once the dough has doubled in size and has filled every bit of the baking pan (or as close as it gets – see above), use your fingers to gently dimple the top of the dough to make small indentations.
  14. Pour some of the spicy garlic oil around the edges of the dough (i.e. between the dough and the pan, not on top of the dough.)
  15. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the focaccia is golden brown.
  16. Let the focaccia cool to room temperature in the pan before serving. If you attempt to cut it while it is still warm, it will seem gummy and under baked.
  17. Slice the focaccia into long strips and serve at room temperature, or toast by flashing it in a warm oven.
  18. The focaccia will keep, wrapped well in plastic, for up to three days.

So my next trick is to try toasting the slices and serving as an entree with something to tone down the heat when my parents come for dinner tomorrow night. Normally I’d think tzataki or something with yoghurt in it, but I’m trying to think of something more suitably Asian, in honour of the lap chong. I suppose, given I’ve already mixed Italian and Asian, that adding a Greek dip would be all fusion-y and really no big thang. But it just doesn’t feel right. I shall need to ponder this further (if pondering means Googling like hell) and will post the solution I go with in the comments.

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~ by swalloworspit on June 18, 2012.

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