Los Dos Hermanas: We sisters are nothing if not generous. Our brother Andy is a restaurant manager at the amazing Harvest in Harvard Square and one serious food dude, so we bought him something super ridiculously awesome for Christmas: the Momofuku cookbook by David Chang (whose noodle-obsessed-teddy-bear-with-a-potty-mouth steez reminds us just a bit of Andy). A cookbook/kitchen memoir/food porn bible so fantastic, funny, honest and covetable that…well, we kept it for ourselves.
Only for a week, of course. But long enough for both of us to read it cover to cover and in the process, learn about meat glue, obsess over perfect ramen noodles, dream of dancing pork belly buns, and develop a minor (okay okay, full-blown) obsession with David Chang.
Mei: After getting the Momofuku fried chicken off the interwebs last week, we now had full access to an entire cookbook of recipes. We decided that although butchering our own pig’s head was out of the realm of possibility for the moment, we would use my remaining three days in Boston to just make a whole bunch of dishes straight from or inspired by the cookbook.
Irene: Mostly, we were grossed out by the fact that David Chang instructs readers to turn the cooked pig tongue inside out to harvest the meat inside it. Eeeeuch. Anyway…
Mei: For starters – Irene made insanely addictive I’m-going-to-put-this-on-everything miso butter. Easiest recipe ever: equal proportions white miso paste and butter. OHHHH SNAP. To provide something to liberally slather this miso butter on, I baked an Asian-inspired version of the focaccia I’ve been baking about weekly for the past few months (recipe here other along with multiple other focaccia cooking instances). I replaced the standard liberal pour of olive oil with a mix of half sesame oil/half vegetable oil and filled the focaccia pokey holes with chunks of fresh garlic and then sprinkled the top with thinly sliced scallions. Kind of a scallion pancake/focaccia hybrid.
It didn’t achieve the the same golden brown color as usual – I probably could have been more generous with the sesame oil – but the bread was still fluffy and light with a nutty warmth. I pulled it straight out of the oven, ladled on a scoop of miso butter, and hand delivered to Andy and Courtney playing Wii Sports Resort in the living room. See, big bro is getting something out of his Christmas present even before we’ve given it to him.
Irene: The miso butter was actually crazy. It may have brought tears to my eyes. My mind races just thinking about it: garlic bread. Mashed potatoes. The miso attacks your tongue with salty umami goodness while the butter’s creamy deliciousness makes you feel like you’re floating in a warm aromatherapeutic bubble bath. Like when Harry Potter uses the prefects’ bathroom after the first task in the Triwizard Tournament. And square bubbles come out of the faucets.
Mei: Oh how I love me a Harry Potter reference. While the bread baked and then was immediately and ravenously consumed, we were already simmering the ingredients for our next recipe – bacon dashi! Dashi is the stock made from seaweed and smoked or dried fish considered fundamental to Japanese cooking, used as a base in ramen noodle broth, miso soup, and other common dishes. David Chang, because he is a man after our own hearts and bellies, makes his with bacon instead.
We were hoping to use the broth to make Bacon Dashi with Potatoes and Clams, but we got to the market and no clams were to be had. So we bought local(ish) wild caught Maine shrimp instead.
Once the dashi had been prepared – boil konbu and then add bacon – we added small red potatoes to the broth and once cooked, tossed in the shrimp. Despite putting the massive stockpot of dashi broth out in the snow up to the handles, the broth didn’t cool enough for us to skim the fat off the top before dinner. Thus, an oily shimmer on the top of the broth but still a deliciously smoky and earthy taste punctuated by the satisfyingly simple and familiar potato chunks and skinny little shrimpies.
The sisters part from one another tomorrow as the holiday season comes to a close – but don’t despair! We’ll be reunited in March for a 150th birthday party (Dad turns 70, Mom turns 60, Irene turns 20). that will most definitely involve massive amounts of cooking. In the meantime, we’ll be in our respective locations, cooking up storms, running secret suppers, stuffing our faces, and blaggering about it.
And don’t worry, even though Andy is finally receiving his gift, there’s certainly more Momofuku to come. Miso butter scallops post is simmering on the burner, and there just may be a weird Frankenstein-hybrid meat monster in our near future unless someone talks Mei out of buying a $100 bag of meat glue. Help us…