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Coincidentally, my eleven year old daughter and I are going through a Ramen Noodles craze, inspired by Hayao Miyazakis films (the grandfather in Whisper of the Heart serves noodles to the young ones when in distress; and in Ponyo the mom makes noodles look like magic). Now, a month later, not only are my ramen noodles exquisite, but Momofuku has made me a much better cook. * Changs attention to the quality of the ingredients one uses: I found a local farmer who raises pigs and drove an hour and a half on beautiful Oklahoma country roads to her place. My freezer is now packed with wonderful cuts of free ranging, non-chemical raised pork, stew meat, and bacon. Actually, the books advise on how to store food is perfect for my family of two. I made a huge pot of ramen noodle broth, let it reduce and once ready (simmered for 6 hours), stored in small containers in the freezer.
I roasted a huge chunk of shoulder, and once ready and cool, shredded it, divided it in small zip lock bags, and to the freezer. As with the broth, I have excellent roasted pork to add to our weekly ramen noodles. * Small details that take onces eating experience to an entirely new level: such as the ginger, scallion recipe. Again, as a Colombian, when nostalgic sometimes I add a little chopped cilantro to the ginger-scallion sauce. Changs approach to Asian cuisine, his respect for tradition without the anxiety of hybridizing, bending, mixing, is perfect for a Colombian bored with the food available in central Oklahoma and trying to make good food out of an ordinary, everyday life kitchen.
Now, a month later, not only are my ramen noodles exquisite, but Momofuku has made me a much better cook. Heres why: * Changs attention to the quality of the ingredients one uses: I found a local farmer who raises pigs and drove an hour and a half on beautiful Oklahoma country roads to her place. My freezer is now packed with wonderful cuts of free ranging, non-chemical raised pork, stew meat, and bacon. Actually, the books advise on how to store food is perfect for my family of two. I made a huge pot of ramen noodle broth, let it reduce and once ready (simmered for 6 hours), stored in small containers in the freezer. (Note: as a Colombian from the Andes, I dont want my broth to have any fishy flavor, so I excluded the Kombu from Changs recipe) * Changs recipe for roasting pork is amazing too!
As with the broth, I have excellent roasted pork to add to our weekly ramen noodles. * Small details that take onces eating experience to an entirely new level: such as the ginger, scallion recipe. Again, as a Colombian, when nostalgic sometimes I add a little chopped cilantro to the ginger-scallion sauce. Changs approach to Asian cuisine, his respect for tradition without the anxiety of hybridizing, bending, mixing, is perfect for a Colombian bored with the food available in central Oklahoma and trying to make good food out of an ordinary, everyday life kitchen. As a food enthusiast and wannabe cook I enjoyed this book. He goes into pretty good detail to tell his personal journey from novice to superstar chef as he toiled to open up his restaurants.
If you are curious about how some chefs created their brand and how they cook, this is definitely a book to check out. Ive made a few of the recipes form this book; pork buns, scallions and ginger sauce, and tare sauce for chicken wings. Its not just a recipe book but describes his insecurities of starting a restaurant as well as journey to building an empire. But generally the recipes are written very well and usually helps you understand why a particular process or ingredient is used. His pork belly recipe literally have only 3 ingredients: pork belly, sugar and salt. But the recipe calls for outrageous amounts of ginger and scallions. The noodle recipe is slightly hard to follow because I only had kansui instead of the powder form that David uses. I am familiar with David Chang and his groundbreaking impact on the culinary world.
Its a beautiful book and a great history of David Changs culture. Aw shucks, I’m David Chang and I’m just a humble guy who likes noodles, ya’ll. I mean, clearly he is a genius and Momofuku Noodle Bar is responsible for maybe the best meal of my life, but something about the tone rubbed me the wrong way. I have yet to try to cook out of it, but reading through a lot of recipes it seems that you need only to have the will and drive to actually try things. It’s nothing compared to the Thomas Keller impossible recipes from his French Laundry cookbook. But, third, the Momofuku book is a narrative of the rise of David Chang. Chang gets the proper humble but arrogant narrative voice to drive his story forward, and, having eaten at all of his recipes, he deserves some of the arrogance.
I found it’s actually cheaper, including shipping, to order bacon from the guy momofuku gets their bacon from, than buying whole foods’ inferior but still good shit. When reading cookbooks I usually read the foreword to get a sense of the author’s perspective and philosophy, and then page through the recipes, reading here and there when something strikes me. But, I read David Chang’s Momofuku book cover-to-cover, and thought obsessively about it when I wasn’t reading it–like I would an engrossing novel. The book is set up that way–it’s the story of how the Momofuku empire came into existence, and, more fascinatingly, how the dishes evolved. Chang’s love of the food and reverence for his ingredients is palpable.
There are several places where Chang really goes into incredible detail in tutorials so that even if you’ve never tried what he’s doing, and never even considered trying it before, you’d have a tough time not doing it right if you follow his careful instructions. I’ve been a little obsessed with trying the Momofuku restaurants since I saw Chang featured on the food porn episode of “No Reservations” with Anthony Bourdain last year, and reading this book just kicked my desire up to a frenzied pitch. Recipes are a bit too fussy for my liking- especially since many of the ingredients necessitate a trip to a specialty store. The ginger scallion sauce was pretty tasty and the only recipe I ended up making (compliments of Amazon. com):Mix together the scallions, ginger, oil, soy, vinegar, and salt in a bowl.
Loved his amusing, humblebrag story about how he stumbled into the hipster food fad vortex of questionably earned success. On the other hand, and not surprising, I’m completely unimpressed by the pedestrian recipes. There are a few decent techniques (which you can also find elsewhere) and a couple of good recipes interspersed among a whole lot of underwhelming ones. If calling a cucumber salad a “quick pickle” makes you swoon then this is the book for you but if you can actually cook, you’re not going to find much new stuff here. With Momofuku David Chang does for Asian cooking what Julia Child did for French cooking. . . Asian recipes you can make in your American kitchen. Chang writes in the smart,edgy, funny and somewhat irreverent style that put him where he sits today, at the head of an Asian cooking dynasty!
This book is written as only a friend can help you write about yourself – the honesty in both the story and the dialog is genuine and will speak to most readers. But Chang takes you through his story and reveals the process and journey he took to not just cook but to understand. From his journey to find the perfect ramen to his story of finding the secret to cooking the perfect steamed buns for his famous steamed pork buns. . . you actually read through the book and the stories spur you on to try the recipes. With each recipe he gives you substitutions that work in an American kitchen and how to find hard to source ingredients. Scary-smart, funny, and ambitious, the wildly creative Chang is the guy all chefs have got to measure themselves by these days. It was with great pleasure that one day I tasted David Changs pork buns at Momofuku.
Truly awesome book. I was up all night reading it. Some early critiques mentioned that this is not for your average home cook,and it’s not. Not many people are going to blow torch hair off a pig’s head. (I would). But his story is worth the read about how he built his restaurants. Here’s my problem with this book: it’s just fucking profoundly beautiful, food-wise but also almost entirely useless to me, as a home cookbook, considering the difficulty of preparing most of this stuff at home. So it should, then, function as the autobiographical story of David Chang and his restaurants’ meteoric rise to the top of the food world and his own culinary artistry &c. Which it does. Although– I will say that Francis Lam’s ginger scallion sauce is superior and suitable for bathing. I wouldn’t kick David Chang’s ginger scallion sauce out of bed, but I probably wouldn’t call it the next day.
Quote for the Day
I remember the hours I had spent in Father’s library, drugging myself with books so I could forget my doom for an hour..
Then the usual hurdles he and his growing team faced as they first opened up the Momofuku Noodle Bar. . . But then– bam. Because they’d started cooking the things they liked, and not what they were expected to cook, as a Japanese restaurant. And that’s exactly the thing about this book: it hints at culinary alchemy, like if you just follow the recipe and put this and this together, and though it looks simple enough, you’ll get something unexpected and magical. BUT this book isn’t for the beginner like me, it’s more for the already proficient home cooks looking to break out of their comfort zones. 🙁 I will, however, try the famous ginger scallion sauce, which looks simple enough. I am SO going to try the Milk Bar, and the Crack Pie. . . Gaahr I want a pork bun right now.
I thumbed through the forward and read about the author’s obsession with ramen and his time in Japan, eventually landing back in NYC and opening up a noodle shop of his own. I then saw the chef at the Mexican restaurant experiment with making ramen noodles for himself and a few lucky staff and kinda chuckled. That chef told me about the Momofuku Milk bar pastry cookbook, which I bought and it became my favorite book on pastry; sending me all over town, the internet, and the rest of creation in search of freeze dried corn, glucose syrup, and sheet gelatin. So I finally come back to this book, which I have renewed the maximum times from the library (which indicates that I will now buy it) and learned something that my chef knew a year ago- this book is the truth!
The idea to use the rich salty/smoky flavor of bacon to emulate bonito (dried fish flake) used in dashi to make a uniquely american take on a japanese mother sauce is emblematic of his ability to take what is great about the flavors of a classic dish and recreate that using surprising elements from the culinary palate. This book is useful to home cooks and professionals alike. Being a vegan puts me at great odds with someone like David Chang, but it doesn’t stop me from being a big fan. Since I could never eat at Momofuku Noodle Bar (or Ssam Bar or Ko or Milk Bar–Chang flatly refuses to cater to vegetarians), reading his cookbook was the next best thing. The sheer creativity and effort that goes into Chang’s cuisine is far beyond anything I could ever imagine up myself. Though I obviously can’t eat things pork belly sandwiches, I read every recipe with a slack-jawed, drooling mouth.
I am also excited to experiment with pickling fruits and vegetables–his whole section on pickling was worth the price of the book. While engaging, acerbic and funny, Chang paints a picture of Momofuku (and himself) as some sort of struggling underdog, always striving to prove people wrong, always on the brink of disastrous failure. But–by the third or fourth opening–Chang’s narrative becomes so repetitive it’s almost boring. Hearing the origin stories of some of the dishes and his adventures learning noodle-making in Japan was much more interesting than the repeatedly rehashed tale of opening another wait-outside-in-the-cold-to-get-a-table restaurant. If you want to know how to make a multi-course dinner just like Momofuku Ko, this book will tell you how to do it.
This cookbook is so great because has a truly endearing voice that he uses to describe his gonzo mad scientist ramen-meets-haute cuisine-meets-PBR-fueled-imagination techniques. The way the book flows-from the ramen restaurant, to a more standard sit-down, to the 12-seat gastro-shrine of Momofuku Ko-demonstrates Chang’s breadth of genius so quietly that one must finish reading from cover to cover before it becomes apparent. Decided this counts as a “real” book as well because it is as much the story of Dave Chang + Momofuku + how the recipes came to be as it is recipes. Am probably skewed to like David Chang anyway; have liked everything I’ve had at Noodle Bar & Milk Bar, enjoy swearing, pork, and LOVE noodles, plus we share a surname, but am fully Team Momofuku after reading this.
Chang’s writing leaves a little to be desired and there are some editing quirks, but he and Meehan have more than made up for that with Lucky Peach. A lot of the recipes skew a little sweet/sugar-heavy for my taste but that is easily remedied. Some of the temperature/timing needs to be played with to get the most out of your home kitchentrue for all cookbooks but somehow more frequently here in the recipes I tried. I love reading about food and talking about food, and especially cooking food. Well written fun read: a mix of cookbook and biography. . The recipes are a mix of totally doable to not at all possible. David Chang is funny, irreverent and a complete culinary genius. That said, if you want to try these recipes, you better clear your fucking calendar because he takes labor-intensive cooking to a whole new level. I enjoyed the memoir section, though am glad I do not work for Mr. Chang.
There was something else gnawing at me about the restaurant though and I started to leaf through the book my friend Edie said I could take it with me if I wanted. This morning before 9:00 AM and I have read all of the story of the book and at least skimmed through the majority of recipes contained therein. It turns out that one of my favorite simple seaming dishes (that is actually a tedious effort) is momofuku soy sauce soaked 5 minute 10 second eggs. I had forgotten that the recipe I follow for not soft boiled not hard boiled eggs soaked in Mirin and soy sauce and some other ingredients that I am forgetting is from this restaurant (but not included in this book). If you like eggs and soy sauce do yourself a favor and google that recipe it is tedious but fantastic. David Changs story is captivating and this is worth reading for that story alone.
Even if you are never going to make a single recipe from this book it is still worth picking up and reading. This review is in response to complaints about the recipes in the book being too complicated for home cooks (and if you’re reading reviews trying to decide whether or not to buy the book, please don’t let those reviews stop you!). The authors are very up front that some of the recipes aren’t suited for a home kitchen and that they are included for those curious about how they’re made in the restaurant. In other recipes they give very helpful hints about where you can cut corners and not hurt the final quality of the dish (for example, they highly recommend buying ramen noodles instead of making them from scratch)Just two examples – Slow-Poached Eggs requires only eggs and hot water (hint: if you can’t heat water, you probably shouldn’t be reading a cookbook :-).
Using the 2 examples above (and Chang’s constant reminders of how great pork is) I put together a salad with bacon/sherry vinegar dressing topped with slow-poached egg, pickled shiitakes, and strips of nori. I don’t normally read cookbooks for the stories, but this one has the full story of David Chang’s rise to superstar chefdom. I’ve seen several food documentaries with Chang and regarding his career, but this book really gives a solid foundation behind him and his restaurants. I wouldn’t cook out of this book (most of the recipes are far too complicated for me) but I loved reading David Chang’s story of how he got to where he is today. This is more than a book about food – it’s about having a passion for something, working hard at it, and disregarding social expectations. I really enjoyed the intro and the history of how David Chang’s restaurants got started.
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- 'Momofuku' is Top 10 Selling Book in Amazon Under 'Asian Books' Category.
- 'Momofuku' is Top 10 Selling Book in Amazon Under 'Asian Books' Category.