Saturday, 18 June 2011

Momofuku ginger spring onion noodles

I must have been living under a rock, because until I was sent a copy of the Momofuku cookbook a while back, I’d never heard of the New York restaurant group or David Chang, the chef and owner.
As regular readers know, I absolutely covet a cook book, and I had a quick flick through, thought it looked fairly interesting, but as is common with me – got distracted by other new shinier things, it went on the shelf, and I didn’t go back for another look.

In the meantime, as is often the way, Momofuku (Lucky Peach translated from Japanese) had registered on my consciousness and I started to notice it cropping up again and again, on Twitter, on the interweb and once on TV where I saw Anthony ‘Kitchen Confidential’ Bourdain eating his way through a whole shedload of their interesting looking dishes whilst chatting with David Chang, the chef.

I’m notoriously slow on the uptake, but eventually, with enough of this drip, drip, Momo drip Fuku drip feed bouncing off my skull, something had to give. Last Sunday, it was pissing down, torrentially, all day, without respite. With absolutely nothing better to do, I pulled the Momofuku book off the shelf for another, proper look.
It’s brilliant.

For starters, David Chang is brutally honest; about his food, his shortcomings as a chef, his business and the way he set it up. It makes for some fantastic and very funny reading. Chang has a real no nonsense, straight to the point style, much of it liberally sprinkled with ‘fucks’. It’s definitely not your average cookbook. I found it utterly compelling.

Then there’s the recipes. The Momofuku style is an incredible mish-mash of mostly Japanese and Korean food, sometimes mixed with a more classical cooking style thrown in with whatever seems to take Chang’s fancy. It’s almost impossible to define, with Chang himself describing his style hilariously as ‘bad pseudo-fusion cuisine’.

A lot of the recipes involve a fair bit of work, there’s often no real dumbing down or dilution for the home cook. But surprisingly it’s not off putting, as the technique and the thinking behind the dishes is what makes it all so interesting.

But, there is one recipe that is instantly accessible. It’s simple to make, it’s cheap, it’s bloody gorgeous, and I’ve made it three times this week.

Ginger Spring Onion Noodles.

It’s basically noodles, any noodles (I used the cheap ass ramen packet noodles you often see in Chinese supermarkets, 45p a pack), tossed with a sauce of finely chopped fresh ginger, sliced spring onions and soy. On top of this, you can add what you like – I piled it up with yet more sliced spring onions, oven roasted broccoli and cauliflower florets, fried beanshoots and more soy.

The basic recipe is this…

Ginger Spring Onion Sauce

250g Spring Onion – thinly sliced
50g very finely chopped, peeled fresh ginger
4 Tbs Neutral Oil (I used Vegetable).
1 ½ Tsp Light Soy Sauce
¾ Tsp Sherry Vinegar
¾ Tsp coarse Sea Salt

This makes enough for about 3 portions. Mix all of this up in a bowl, check for seasoning. It’s at its best 15-20 mins after making it, but will be fine for a day or two in the fridge.

Then, you cook your noodles (Chang recommends 170g of Lo Mein, rice noodles or Shanghai thick Noodles per person).
While the noodles are hot, spoon in 6 Tbs of the Ginger Spring Onion sauce, stir and then pile with Bamboo shoots, roast cauliflower, fresh veg, more spring onion, sliced chill and more soy, whatever you think works.

For my taste, I think the basic recipe itself has a bit too much spring onion in it, and not enough soy – so chop and change it as you see fit. As I said, I made it a few times this week, the first time following the actual recipe, and the other couple of times more in ‘the spirit’ of the recipe, and it was bloody nice each time.

It’s lovely stuff, and it feels incredibly virtuous to eat. Although it obviously isn’t quite as healthy as it seems with all the oil and the soy I tip over it. But what the hell. It’s superb and cheap.

Closing thoughts. Make this dish – and buy the
Momofuku book. You wont regret either decision.


Pavel said...

Momofuku this looks good, I love this sort of cooking!

Dan said...

Pavel - it's well worth getting. If only for David Chang's introductory chapter where he chats about how he set up the business. It's fascinating

gastrogeek said...

You've inspired me to dust off my copy - this is exactly what I could do with right now. Lovely post.

Gourmet Chick said...

I have this book and agree it is a great read although some of the recipes are pretty intense - good to see there are some easier ones in there as well

AdamG said...

Dan, when say cook the noodles, how do you mean? Do you boil them and then fry (before adding in the sauce)

Dan said...

Gastrogeek - Thanks very much Rej.

Gourmet Chick - Agreed, some of the recipes are entirely impractical for the home cook unless you have all the sous vide gear available (Thinking of the 48 Hour short ribs), but still makes for interesting reading.

AdamG - Entirely depends on the noodles you're using. It's upto you. If say, it's the packet ramen style noodles, you soak in boiling water for a few mins and drain, then add the sauce. Other noodle types may require you to soak in boiling water, drain, then stir fry in a wok before adding the sauce at the last moment. It's a great and rather robust recipe because you can adapt it to suit whatever noodle type (or even rice!) you have to hand. (Just follow the instructions on the noodle packet).

Graphic Foodie said...

I got this book too and I think like you some of the recipes can be a little scary. It is a book that I have read the most oddly - loved the story and the attitude. Will dig it out I think.

tori said...

Love the book, love the noodles, love the places. We did a bit of a pilgrimage last time we were in NYC and tried to hit up most of the arms of the brand. Made for some pretty fine days of feasting.