Archive for January, 2010

Fried Chicken (pg. 89)

I love fried chicken, but I just don’t eat it that often.  It’s hard to get good fried chicken these days.  My favorite fried chicken in NYC, the Pink Teacup, is rumored to be closing, but that seems to change daily.  Like most people who grew up in the NJ suburbs, fried chicken usually meant the Colonel, the real Kentucky Fried Chicken, before fried became a four letter word and the Colonel’s company morphed into KFC.

This fried chicken requires four simple steps:

  1. Brine the chicken
  2. Steam the chicken
  3. Fry the chicken
  4. Mix with the Octo Vin

I prefer to break down my own chickens these days.  It’s easy, cost effective, and, dare I say, kind of fun.  For the purpose of the fried chicken, your really just remove the backs (save them for Tare (pg. 42)) and quarter the bird. As you can see from the French press, I highly recommend getting the proper amount of coffee consumed for this mornings exercise, .  Mike Pardus has a great video demonstration on Breaking Down a Bird 101.
Step 1: The brine. Brine the chicken between 1-6 hours.  It’s pretty straight forward.  Everyone into the pool:  salt, sugar, and water into the bag.  Mix it until everything is dissolved, and add the chicken.

Step 2: The Steam: Steaming is rapidly becoming my favorite methods for all things poultry and bread, after the Momofuku pork buns.  (Next experiment: steam arepas!)  My favorite method for cooking chicken wings is similar: steam, dry out in fridge, roast, mix with hot wing sauce.  Much better than deep frying.  More work, better results.  There is the added bonus of cooking higher quantities in the oven at the same time.  Timing for half time perfectly (pop them in at the end of 1st quarter).  But I digress

Into the steamer, legs on the bottom, breast up top, lid slightly cracked.

No comments from the sanitation police.  I have no problems cutting up chickens on the wood board or putting them in a bamboo steamer.  Clean the boards properly right away and you’ll be fine.

More people should cook chicken and duck this way.  It allows you to remove the  fat but keep the skin.  Keep the fat too, for Schmaltz, but especially the duck fat for confit!

Step 3: The fry.  I’m a little disappointed here.  There was a slight camera malfunction and we’re not sure what happened to the photo’s of the chicken drying on the rack and frying on the iron skillet.  Nothing to exciting.  I did have some problems photographing the fry, the oil reflected a lot of light.  Nevertheless, the photo’s have been lost and I was not pleased with them.

But on to…

Step 4:  the Octo Vin.  The final product.

Oh, this was delicious!  The Octo Vin was great.  This dish has the juicy bite of a lightly fried chicken, with the robust flavors of the vinaigrette.  The sauce is strong, but not overpowering.  It’s mouth watering good.

The fried chicken is definitely a keeper recipe.  This will be done a few times over the year.  The Octo Vin may be used on wings one of these days as well.

Coming Soon: No idea what’s up next.

We had a minor mishap in the MomofukuAtHome kitchen.  While away on business, in SF where I had the fortunate experience to dine at Incanto and the Slanted Door, my NYC apt fridge and freezer malfunctioned.  There were a few casualties from the freezer: leftover steamed buns, pork skin being saved for the Chicharrón, and the chicken back for the Tare.  That just means more they will have to wait a little while longer.

Class Trip Announcement:  I’ll be joining a group at Momofuku Ssam for another Bo Ssam dinner.  The same group will be invited for the MomofukuAtHome Bo Ssam dinner a week or two later to compare and contrast.  That will give me time to start the kimchi.


Octo Vinaigrette (pg. 107)

The condiment for Fried Chicken (pg. 89) and Grilled Octopus Salad (pg. 105), tonights dinner was the former.  It’s fairly simple, but a little more time consuming than expected.

This could have been a one photo post, but, I can’t resist.

Mise en place:

Years ago, I was vacationing in Burma.  My friend and I were wandering the streets of Mandalay.  The city map was, let’s just say, not to scale, we wondered for what seemed like an eternity.  After consulting the Lonely Planet guide, we read the side note: if your going to walk around Mandalay, think first, think again, think one more time, and hire a rickshaw. Our mistake could have been avoided had we simply paid attention to the note!

The experience has reinforced the need to pay close attention to notes or call outs.  So, first thing for the Octo Vin prep: heed the note. When preparing the garlic and ginger for this recipe, make sure to take your time and work your knife skills. No garlic press, no ginger grater.

Once the garlic and ginger is finely chopped, everything gets measured.  Full disclosure: I used jarred pickled chile’s from the Asian Market in Chinatown.  I’ll get around to pickling the chile’s when I can find them and have a couple weeks for the process.  The reflection of the chile’s is cool.

And it’s everyone into the pool…

Do the hippie hippie shake, and voilà: Octo Vinaigrette!

Coming Soon:  Fried Chicken (pg. 89)

Momofuku Pork Buns (pg. 79)

Finally, it all comes together.

We had this for a family lunch on Sunday, December 27th with a full day of football ahead.  Once everything was prepped the prior two days, this was a piece of cake.

Reheat the steamed buns:

Heat through the pork belly (with some of the liquid gold).

And assemble steamed bun with hoisin, quick-pickled cucumbers, pork belly, sliced scallians and voilà: Momofuku pork bun.

By now, it’s clear I need to take a few more photo’s.  We were so busy just eating the because they tasted so good.  Sriracha didn’t make the plating shot, but made plenty of the buns.


My brother, John, was intrigued by the steamed buns as a delivery vehicle for other food.  Since I had to purchase a 1 lb 9.6 oz. box of instant non-fat dry milk for the 3 tablespoons the recipe required, I was able to spare a little for his shot at it.  Who knows, maybe we’ll have a  guest post.

Dad  managed to grab a piece of mozzarella cheese, wrap it one of the extra steamed buns and nuke it for a couple second to create his version of fusion calzone.  He also did thorough examination of the differences between Sriracha and chili garlic sauce (1 ingredient).

My parents have never had steamed pork buns.  So we have a date for dim sum one of these days.  There’s a funny story about the last time my mother was in a Chinese restaurant and a cockroach, which is why it was the last time she was in that Chinese restaurant, but those are best told at the kitchen table.

Already, the blog is worth it.

Quick-pickled Cucumbers (pg. 65)

These were, well, quick.  Sort of a filler post until it’s all brought together.

Slicing into 1/8th inch with a Mandoline, next to mise en place.

Combine Salt and Sugar, let sit for 15 minutes.

These came out pretty good.  Although they are not rocket science, they can come out sweet.  I did a batch the day before as a little snack to munch on.  Recipe repeated the next day when it all came together for the Momofuku pork buns.

Lessons Learned

  • Take more photo’s.  Since these were made just before bringing everything together, they went right into the pork buns and I never photographed the final quick-pickled cucumbers alone.

Coming Soon:  Momofuku Pork Buns (pg. 79)

Steamed Buns (pg. 81)

On to the steamed Pork buns.  Speaking of mistakes learning while doing, these had to be done twice.  The first time, I left out a key ingredient.  Extra points if you can guess while looking at the Mise En Place:

Combine the yeast and water in the mixing bowl.

Than the rest of the ingredients…

And mix.

These photo’s were taken from the first batch.  After cursing myself for leaving out one of the ingredients (hint: not always used in bread) I rushed to get the next batch going, and my photographer took off for some time with one of the nieces.

After the rise it was pretty straightforward to cut and roll the dough into 50 pieces and roll them out.  The parchment squares are hiding under the dutch tile.

Rolling 50 (or 100) buns into 4 in ovals is a bit time consuming.  This will take a lot more practice, but in the end, it was okay.  I’ll welcome any suggestions readers have on how to improve steamed bun rolling…

Nice little product placement for the chotchkie ruler found in mom’s drawer.

And into the steamer we go!

Final product:

Lessons Learned

  • Include all of the ingredients.  Have you guess what I left out of the first batch?
  • Make sure you are well stocked on all equipment.  I ran out of parchment paper.  Had enough for 50 buns, but not 1oo!  That’s a lot of parchment paper.
  • Patience, give the dough enough time to knead.  The second batch developed more glutens through enough kneading.
  • Take more photo’s.  Where is the rising dough?
  • Do not stack the buns, they need to rise again.  They were in separate sheets for the second batch.

Coming Soon: Quick Pickles!

Pork Belly (pg. 50)

For the first 3 months of 2009, I lived with a good friend, Thomas, on St. Marks Place in the East Village, not too far from the Momofuku Milk Bar.  Momofuku Milk Bar had only been open around 6 weeks.  There were many mornings when I would wonder over for the fried poached egg and pork belly bun with a hot cup of Stumptown coffee.  This was heaven, or, on few occasions, relief from the night before.

Fittingly, this will be the first foray into the Momofuku Cookbook, albeit without the slow poached egg for this post.  Since this recipe, like most of the Momofuku Cookbook, requires a few recipes, I’ll break it up into a couple of posts.  Not surprisingly, I made a few mistakes, learned by doing on the initial go round and tried everything twice.  I did a test run of the pork belly in NYC early December but repeated it over the holidays.  I waited until the holidays to put the whole thing together at my parents house so we all could enjoy in the food and new skills.  Also, I don’t have a dough hook to make the steam buns!

First, start with a good pork belly.  Pictures are courtesy of my sister, Beth, and her new Nikon D40 SLR she loves so much.  She insisted in including the mini-York peppermint patty for scale and a good idea.  Actually, she wanted anything and that was very handy and a frozen mini York peppermint patties are in the freezy 24/7.  Mom’s nickname is Junkfood Joanie!  But I digress…

The skin had to be removed, which was a little more time consuming than I expected, but not a big deal.  Chicharrón will be coming soon once I pick up some Shichimi togarashi.

The cure was pretty straight forward and simple.  In fact, it was so simple I was sure we were doing something wrong.  Actually, we were and should have sprinkled the salt/sugar mixture over the pan rather than making a big mess.  We hammed it up with some action shots.

This was covered and put into the fridge on Christmas night.  After letting it cure for 14 hours, it was ready for the oven.  This was a done as directed at 4500Fc for an hour with basting halfway and than another hour at 2500F.

The pork came out beautiful.  It may have been a little crisper at the corner than I would have likes, but that was unavoidable with the sugar.

Finally, the best part, decanting the liquid gold! (That’s gold, Jerry, gold!)

Bonus Shot:

Trial run Mise En Place and skinned pork belly.

Coming Soon: Steamed Buns

Please leave a comment with feedback or suggestions on how to improve the post.  This blog is as much an exercise in communication as it is cooking.


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