kottke.org posts about Momofuku
2004 was a pretty good year for the NYC food scene. Among the openings were The Spotted Pig, Per Se, Momofuku Noodle Bar, and Shake Shack.
If there was a movement taking shape, its key players admit they didn't notice until after the fact. And many of them spent the year struggling. Mr. Chang was desperate for customers in the early days at Noodle Bar, and kicking himself for having failed to apply for a kitchen job at Per Se or Masa. "I remember thinking very clearly, 'What am I doing?' " he said. " 'This is stupid. I should be working at Masa!' "
In some cases, 2004 was an outright fight. At the Spotted Pig, Mr. Friedman and Ms. Bloomfield, who had arrived from England, envisioned the vibrant boite as "a really cool bar that happened to have food as good as any restaurant in town," Mr. Friedman said. "Who made the rule that you can't have a real chef instead of someone who defrosts the frozen French fries?"
Instead of getting his own TV show, David Chang is making a series of iPad apps and printed journals (published by McSweeney's no less).
Mr. Chang said that he had talked to television networks about doing a program, but that this offered more freedom and more possibilities, as well as providing research and development for his restaurants. "We were able to go a little deeper than we could have on TV, without being constrained by the networks," he said. "They wanted yelling. They wanted everything but education."
Your move, Kokonas.
I mentioned on Twitter last week that I made slow-poached eggs using a technique from the Momofuku book. A few folks asked about a recipe so here are the details:
Fill your largest pot with water and put it over super low heat on the stove. Put something in the bottom of the pot to keep the eggs off the bottom...you want them to be heated by the water, not the flame underneath. Use a thermometer to heat the water to 140-145°F and slip the whole eggs in (no cracking). Let the eggs sit in there for 40-45 minutes, maintaining the temperature the whole time. I found that turning the heat on for 30-45 seconds every 10 minutes or so was enough to keep the temperature in the proper range.
To serve, crack the eggs and discard any clear whites. If you're not serving them immediately, chill the whole eggs in an ice bath and store in the fridge. To reheat, run under hot water for a minute or two.
This takes a little longer than making poached eggs in the traditional way, but you can do several eggs at once (like dozens if you have a big enough pot), this technique is less messy and fussy, and results in a poached eggs with a super-creamy white. The whites on my first batch were a little too runny for my taste, so I'm going to try a slightly higher temperature next time to (hopefully) achieve something between soft boiled and poached.
That's it. There's a lot more context and advice in the Momofuku book (which is excellent and includes a technique for frying your slow-poached eggs); I'd suggest picking up a copy if you're interested.
I was all fired up to make eight from-scratch servings of ramen last night after looking through the Momofuku book, but ulitmately the book is a Trojan horse for enticing people into the restaurants. As in: "Konbu? 5 pounds of meaty pork bones? Fuck that, let's just go to Noodle Bar."
Get yer clickity fingers ready: you can pre-order the Momofuku cookbook on Amazon. Publication date is October 27, 2009. It is likely to include the several recipes that David Chang shared with Gourmet magazine in Oct 2007 like the brussels sprouts and the still-amazing pork buns. (via serious eats)
Update: NY Times food critic Frank Bruni also has a book coming out soon: Born Round (weird title).
This week's New Yorker has a profile of David Chang, chef/owner of the Momofuku family of restaurants. The profile isn't online but Ed Levine has a nice write-up with some quotes.
Just because we're not Per Se, just because we're not Daniel, just because we're not a four-star restaurant, why can't we have the same fucking standards? If we start being accountable for not only our own actions but for everyone else's actions, we're gonna do some awesome shit. [...] I know we've won awards, all this stuff, but it's not because we're doing something special -- I believe it's really because we care more than the next guy.
Reading the article, it appears that Chang is using Michael Ruhlman's The Soul of a Chef as a playbook here. Caring more than the next guy is right out of the Thomas Keller section of the book...with his perfectly cut green tape and fish swimming the correct way on ice, no one cares more than Keller.
Profile of "radical chef" David Chang and his restaurants, Momofuku Noodle Bar (one of my favorite restaurants) and Momofuku Ssam Bar, an Asian version of Chipotle. After a vegetarian customer threatened to sue Chang for not offering vegetarian broth, he took all but one of the veggie options off the menu. "We added pork to just about everything[...] Fuck it, let's just cook what we want."