This week in Momofuku At Home
For all those interested in eating fresh, local, sustainable food, I attended the screening of a new documentary, Fresh screened in NYC, followed by a Q&A session with the director Sofia Joanes. The movie is fantastically directed and well edited. I felt a little sorry for Ms. Joanes while watching a film topic recently covered by similar documentaries such as The Future of Food and Food, Inc. Ms. Joanes bravely shared that she cried when hearing about the release of Food, Inc. (she filmed at Joel Salatin’s farm before the Food, Inc. director). Nevertheless, it’s well worth watching or grabbing a license for a viewing party.
Spread the word, support the cause.
ON Q&A questions, in general, you know what really grinds my gears? audience members who provide an autobiography leading up to the question, which, in fact, has very little to do with the question. “I’ve been grinding my own coffee since I was 14 and my question is this: what are the T-shirts made out of?” and “I’ve been shopping at Whole Foods before it existed in NYC, and my question has to do with…”
Which leads me to my second pet peeve, starting a question with the phrase, “I have a question”. Of course you do, that is why you raised your hand and the speaker acknowledged you.
I did get a chance to meet up with a Momofuku At Home fan, Amy. Check her out on Roadtrip Nation trailer, a PBS documentary were, you guessed it, she took a road trip around the country including the opportunity to interview David Chang before Ssäm bar opened. Amy was a little late to the screening trying to squeeze in some ginger scallion noodles at Noodle Bar. She managed to get the trifecta when we wandered through Ssäm Bar and Milk Bar to pick up some crack pie and share some fruity pebble cereal milk. I, of course, had the pork buns.
Ssäm Bar does not have the kimchi consommé on the menu. Oh well…
I’ve had an obsession with making consommé for about eighteen months. You would think I would have just made some and scratched that itch. It started with regular making batches of homemade stock. Mike Pardus, guest posting on the Hunger Artist posted videos demonstrating how to make beef consommé. Riveting. Not to most people, but it was to me.
Going back about a year ago, I showed that video my (now ex) girlfriend. She thought I was a little strange. [Note: I won’t be using any ex-girlfriend’s name in the blog or names of dates I cook for, it’s just better that way, for everyone.] Anyway, girlfriend thought it was tedious, who in their right mind would do that?
She asked, “what’s the fascination with consommé?”
I highly recommend not starting this conversation to begin, nevertheless, if you do find yourself in this predicament, the wrong answer is the technical one and includes explanations of protein coagulation, rafts, and convection. That will drive a New York resident to actually turn on those annoying commercial screens in the taxi cabs.
The right answer includes tasty words such as delicious, perfection, and pure while ordering a half dozen of these at Momofuku Ssäm Bar. Let’s just say girlfriend, who craves seafood, was a convert.
“Wait a minute,” she said, “tell me more about consommé…”
For just a little while longer, I was cool…
I won’t get into the technical details of consommé, particularly clarification with gelatin. This technique gained some steam last year on the blogosphere with great posts on Ideas in Food: Compression Clarification and Cooking Issues 1 & 2 Agar Clarification. David Chang refers to Dave Arnold, from Cooking Issue, a couple times in Momofuku, once as “The Smartest Person Alive”. Read Cooking Issues and it will be hard to dispute, with all due respect to Carl Sagan and Stephen Hawking.
First you need a pureed kimchi. The original kimchi post is here.
A little sugar and vinegar…
Sheet gelatin is pretty neat stuff. It can be picked up at NY Cake on 22nd street and only costs a couple dollars. The gelatin does the job eggs white will do in a traditional consommé. But all you need to know is dissolve it in some hot water.
A well shucked oyster…
Normally, I’m an raw oyster purist, skip the minuet or cocktail sauce, Shuck N’ Suck or whatever those colorful T-shirts say. Even at Ssäm Bar, I’m not a fan of the oysters with pureed kimchi. However, the oysters with kimchi consommé are divine. The consommé looks clear and pure hinting at subtle tones that manage to surprise the palate with strong, yet, not overpowering flavors. It’s sort of like the first punch Rocky connects with Apollo Creed and he goes down thinking, “I wasn’t expecting that?”
The actual time to make this recipe is about 16 days! Crazy. Make the kimchi (two weeks), puree and freeze (overnight), strain through cheesecloth (overnight). It’s a long process, but most of it happens in the fridge… The most difficult part of this recipe is picking up the sheet gelatin.
Plan ahead and you’ll be sure to surprise some guests!