If you’ve been reading this blog recently, you know quite well that Irene and I have a bit of a thing for David Chang and his small East Village Momofuku restaurant empire. The cookbook has been bedtime reading for both of us as well as the source of three or four or maybe eight dishes over the past few weeks. I’m almost glad I left the book back in Boston with Andy (it was ostensibly his Christmas gift anyway) because things were getting a bit out of hand.
I first ate at Momofuku Noodle Bar in its initial tiny incarnation about four years ago and felt a pressing and insistent desire to return after finishing the cookbook. Luckily I was leaving for New York the next day, so less than 24 hours later I found myself alongside devoted noodle fans Lexi and Rachel, hunkered down over steamed buns glistening with fatty pork belly, pungent and slippery ginger and scallion noodles, and a steaming hot porky bowl of classic Momofuku ramen that I could now recreate if I had a ridiculous amount of time and an even more ridiculous amount of pork.
(An aside: I’ll be honest, we actually tried to go to Ippudo first, but 90-105 minutes is too long to wait on an empty stomach, even for what some consider to be the best ramen in New York. Frank Bruni’s NYT review on their ramen includes some of my favorite food writing ever, particularly the first four paragraphs which are so descriptive and poetic and so perfectly true: ‘The taste of ramen isn’t just layered and complex; it’s almost murky, but a good murky, an enthralling murky, the kind of murky in which greedy eaters contentedly lose their way.’ Rarely has any food writing made me quite so insistently crave anything so viscerally and immediately as Bruni on ramen. Which reminds me that I’m really hungry for ramen, right now).
But I was only the tiniest bit sad to walk away from Ippudo because it meant I could taste more of Momofuku with a deeper understanding of the dishes and the impetus/inspiration/happy accidents behind their creation. Speaking of inspiration and happy accidents, the supposed topic of this post – a last-minute-invention dish of miso butter scallops – owes its existence to both. Momofuku gets props for the inspiration and the lack of clams at Whole Foods deserves credit for the resulting purchase of local Gloucester wild-caught scallops instead. Chang’s recipe for scallops in kohlrabi puree using an entire stick of butter got transformed into this recipe using slightly less miso butter which adds a rich warmth to the fresh scallops.
Miso Butter Scallops
This recipe’s pretty simple.
What You Need:
A bunch of good quality, fresh, ideally diver caught scallops (less destructive to the ocean environment)
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp white miso paste
A splash of vegetable or grapeseed oil – something neutral tasting
What You Do:
1. Combine the butter and miso and mix thoroughly to get miso butter. You should probably make extra because you’re going to want to slather it on everything you can possibly think of. Like your face.
3. After two minutes, the bottoms of the scallops should be lightly browning, at which point you pour the miso butter into the pan and let it melt. Tip the pan towards you to collect the melted butter in a spoon and then pour it over the scallops to baste.
4. Let the scallops cook until you have a nice browned bottom, at which point they still may have a hint of translucence but the scallops should be warmed through. I like scallops barely cooked, but you can also flip them and cook for a minute or two on the other side if you want. Overcooked scallops are like rubbery
5. Serve over roasted brussels sprouts – wack ’em in the oven with olive oil, salt and pepper until they brown and crisp up.
Thanks Momofuku. I’ll see you soon, even if I have to fly around the world to do it.