0 for 2 with the Momofuku cookbook, so it's time to make a teeny tiny confession. I don't really like the food I've had at Momofuku and Ssam Bar all that much. I tend to blame myself rather than the recipe when something comes out kind of meh, but I'm starting to think my tastebuds just don't work the way David Chang's do. For example, when I cook super-intricate restaurant food the way Suzanne Goin tells me to, I pretty much want to lick the plate in an extremely un-ladylike manner.
I stand by my comment that Momofuku is the single most entertaining cookbook I've ever read, but the recipes are not really rocking my world so far. In fact, the ramen broth, despite the fact that it took a whole freaking day to make, was strangely less palatable to me than my super-simple pork broth. Something about the kombu and shitakes added a weird funky aftertaste that muddied the broth instead of adding depth.
...Anyway. I made it. The Momofuku ramen. I admit, I did not take the extra step and make the tare. One thing I'll say is that this project left me with a fridge full of great leftovers: shiitake pickles, a poached chicken, shredded pork bone meat that I've earmarked for my long-planned meat pie project (the leftover pork would be also great fried up in a breakfast hash, or popped into tortillas, taco-style), not to mention boatloads of homemade soup broth. Always a welcome thing.
It's important to note that this is not a difficult recipe, just a time-consuming one. If you know how to boil water, that's basically all this is. Also, despite my kvetching above, this is a perfectly tasty bowl of noodles. I'll take it over Top Ramen any day.
Momofuku Ramen (Adapted from Momofuku by David Chang)
4-5 pounds of pork neck bones (get your butcher to hack it into pieces)
1 whole chicken
2 cups dried shiitakes
2 pieces of kombu (about 3"x6" each)
12 oz. smoked bacon
1 bunch scallions
1 onion, peeled and halved
Soy sauce and salt to taste
1. Fill a large stockpot with 6 quarts of water and the kombu and bring to a boil. Immediately shut the heat off and let the kombu soak in the hot water for ten minutes. After ten minutes have passed, remove the kombu. You can save this for a kombu/bamboo shoot salad that Chang describes elsewhere in the book.
2. Next, throw in the shiitakes, bring water back to a boil, then turn the heat down and let these simmer for about half an hour. The shiitakes should be all plumped up when you remove them, and you can make a fairly quick pickle with them. Per Chang's instructions: Remove and discard the shiitake stems and cut the caps into slices. Heat these in a saucepan with the following ingredients: ½ cup of sugar (I did a touch less), ½ cup of sherry vinegar, ½ cup of light soy sauce, 3-inch piece of peeled ginger. Simmer for about half an hour. Let cool. You can eat right away, or place in an airtight container in your refrigerator for up to a month.
3. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Arrange the pork bones on a cookie sheet or baking pan. Put them in the oven at about the same time you add the chicken to the broth. (Both take about an hour). About half an hour into the cooking, turn the bones to ensure even browning.
5. Now add the pork bones and bacon into the broth. You know the drill. Bring to a boil, then simmer, skimming scum off as necessary. After 45 minutes, fish out the bacon. I was not clever enough to find a use for boiled bacon, so I discarded it. If that seems wasteful to you, check out the genius bacon waffle at Momofuku for 2. Five hours of slow simmering later, throw the onion, scallions, and carrots into the broth for the final 45 minutes. Lastly, season the soup with soy and/or salt. Strain the broth. Save the meat from the pork bones for other uses.
ASSEMBLING YOUR RAMEN
This is pretty straightforward. Boil some storebought noodles and add toppings of your choice. To make it extra-authentic, make sure you drop the f-bomb a couple of times while you eat it.