This book is awesome. It’s pork-centric, old fashioned Korean food in some ways (which is great), pan-Asian in others (also great), and it takes those traditional culinary roots and expands on them, rather than being bound by them. Did I mention that it’s pork-centric? On that theme of expansion of ideas, David Chang makes a bacon dashi, using Alan Benton’s bacon as a substitute for the katsuo-bushi used in traditional dashi. It’s fitting, I think, that the bacon dashi then becomes the foundation of so many dishes that follow. On the pork theme: there’s pork belly for steamed pork buns, pork shoulder for ramen, a chicken wings recipe that includes bacon and duck fat, two different pork sausages, ham terrine, pork shoulder steaks, chicharron, and a pig’s head torchon that I’m going to work up to (once I find a pig’s head). There are a handful of different egg recipes, including 5:10 minute eggs, soft-cooked, slow-poached, fried, and slow-poached-and-fried, and smoked eggs (which are soaked for a while in smoked water). And there are pickles of every kind. And noodles. Lots of noodles. I love this place (I guess “these places” would be more accurate) without having been there.
The first thing I cooked from this book last summer was the marinated hanger steak with ginger scallion sauce. I roughly followed the “ghetto sous vide” instructions that follow the main recipe, which are similar to J. Kenji Lopez-Alt’s process of cooking meat in a ziploc in a cooler for an hour before searing it on the grill. It worked really well for me; our hot tap water runs about 128 degrees, and the cooler only lost about 1 degree over the course of the hour. I know that cooks everywhere have been raving about hanger steak recently, which means it’s only going to become harder to find, but I’ve totally bought in, late to the party, bandwagon and all.
So, this isn’t a full review of the cookbook, but more of a declaration that I’ve decided to dig deeper into Momofuku. If you’re cooking your way through Charcuterie — and I know that plenty of you are — you’re going to dig this book. There’s a lot to read (which I enjoyed); great background on the process and evolution of the Momofuku restaurants, and cooking ideas that range from traditionally fermented kimchi to a bit from Wylie Dufresne on meat glue/transglutaminase. Maybe this will give you some new ideas for posts in between Charcutepalooza challenges. It’s the next step for me, and it might even help me to branch out from this francophilic cooking trend I’ve been (happily) following.
Anyone with me?