18 tricks momofuku can teach you about simple cooking

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I read a lot of cookbooks. I love them.

But it’s not often I get excited about restaurant cookbooks written by chefs. Sure there are the exceptions, like the Moro series and Sean Moran’s wonderful Let it Simmer, but mostly I’m happy to pass on fancy chef-type books. Even if they are beautifully presented.

So when I found myself in a bookshop in New York, I was a little surprised that the Momofuku book was the one that followed me home.

I absolutely loved all the Momofuku restaurants. I made it to all 4 and both milk bars! And if you’re wondering Ssam bar was my favourite. I actually went back on a few occasions.

And the thing is, I loved the book just as much, if not more. Because it gave a little insight into the brilliance behind the restaurants. There were so many innovative yet simple ideas that any home cook could benefit from. So today I wanted to share with you a few tricks that Momofuku can teach you.

And then we have the sprouts. Seriously, the sprouts are a revelation.

what is momofuku?

Momofuku is a group of restaurants based in New York owned by David Chang, a Korean American. The name is Japanese and means lucky peach. If you are ever even thinking of being anywhere remotely near NYC, do yourself a favour and plan a visit.

According to the book, the restaurants aren’t easy to classify. They all have heavy Asian influences but it’s more than that. I love that they are casual, approachable places that are all about the food. And nothing to do with the elitism associated with fine dining.

And I love the idea that they are really just in pursuit of ‘deliciousness’. What more do you need.

18 tricks momofuku can teach you about simple cooking

1. Sometimes you discover the best things by accident.
Like the method now used to roast pork belly at Momofuku. David Chang accidentally left the oven on really high (250C) for an hour and came back to find his pork belly had roasted down so he reduced the heat to 110C and left it for another hour or so to finish cooking in the fat that had rendered out. And that’s now the standard method.

2. Slow poaching eggs is not alchemy.
But it is a great trick to crack an apparently, raw looking egg and have a poached egg come out. Just put your eggs in a large pot of water at 60-62C for 40-45minutes. Too easy.

3. Pickling is underrated.
Chang considers pickling to be the 6th cooking technique. Apparently it’s not as difficult as it sounds. Just pour a brine over chopped veg and wait for the right amount of time before eating them.

4. Instant dashi is a great thing to have on hand.
It’s cheap, has some flavour and is really instant. Perfect for broth in a hurry.

5. Fish sauce vinaigrette is the Vietnamese answer to ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise.
See my simplified version below.

6. Octo vinaigrette makes a wonderful sauce for meat.
Love the idea of reversing the ratio of oil to vinegar in a traditional vinaigrette or salad dressing and using it as a quick sauce.

7. It’s OK to use commercial mayonnaise.
Inspired by Momofuku, I picked up a bottle of Kewpie mayonnaise from an Asian grocery store. Really loving the super-soft packaging and have been having heaps of fun experimenting with it.

8. Coffee and mayonnaise are a thing of beauty.
I hadn’t heard of red-eye gravy which is apparently big in the South. Basically it’s using coffee to deglaze a pan that has had country ham fried in it. At Momofuku they serve it as a coffee mayonnaise with platters of country ham (America’s answer to prosciutto). One of the best things I ate in NYC.

9. Kimchi isn’t that difficult to make at home.
And it can be made from many different vegetables like cabbage, radish & cucumber.

10. Sometimes creativity is just taking a common formula and doing it really well.
Like steamed bread + tasty meat = good eating – the secret formula behind the Pork Belly buns which are amazing and understandably one of their signature dishes.

12. The secret to fried chicken…
is to brine the chicken and steam it then finish it off in the deep fryer.

13. Miso and butter is a happily-ever-after food marriage.
Just combine 2 parts white miso (shiro) with about 1 part unsalted butter. Serve with asparagus, sweet corn or anywhere you’d think about serving hollondaise sauce or even mayo.

14. Fatty things, frozen and shaved with a microplane can be magic.
While the frozen, shaved foie gras was one of the highlights of my meal at Momofuku Ko, it was the simplicity of the idea that really inspired. Cooks on a more modest budget could try freezing flavoured butters (like the miso butter above) and shaving it over cooked veg.

15. Silken tofu can work in a caprese-style salad.
Replace the mozzarella with silken tofu, and the basil with shiso leaves and you’ll have a great vegan version of the classic Italian tomato salad.

16. Wasabi peas can be inspirational.
For a fresh veg dish, steam some sugar snap peas or snowpeas (mangetout) and serve with a little soy sauce, butter and shaved horseradish.

17. Brussels sprouts don’t make the best kimchi.
Just in case you were wondering…

18. The best way to cook brussels sprouts is to roast them
See the Momofuku recipe below… if you haven’t come around to the brussels-sprouts-are-addictive way of thinking, roasting is the trick.

roast brussels sprouts recipe7

addictive roast brussels sprouts recipe
serves 2-3 as a side or 1 if your name is jules

When I was growing up I used to hate brussels sprouts. I always thought my mum was punishing us when she cooked them. If you had have told me I would one day write a recipe that had the words ‘addictive’ and ‘brussels sprouts’ in the title, I would never have believed you.

But I’m serious. These sprouts are the best. I could eat them every day.

For vegetarians / vegans / fish sauce detesters, feel free to skip the dressing and serve your sprouts with a generous squeeze of lemon instead.

300g (10oz) brussels sprouts
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar or rice wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes
small handful pinenuts, optional

1. Preheat oven to 200C (400F). And get an oven-proof skillet or frying pan on a high heat.

2. Trim the bases of your sprouts and halve lengthwise.

3. Add a few tablespoons oil to the pan and add the sprouts. Cook for a few minutes or until they start to smell good.

4. Transfer to the oven and continue cooking for 10-15 minutes or until sprouts are tender and well caramelised on the side facing down.

5. Meanwhile, mix fish sauce, vinegar, chilli and 1 tablespoon water. Season to taste with a few pinches of sugar.

6. Toss hot brussels sprouts in the dressing and serve with pinenuts, if using.

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video version of the recipe

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With love,
Jules x

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{ 24 comments }

Ozmo June 7, 2011 at 12:52 am

brussel sprouts caramelised with pear is a marriage made in heaven.shallots and ham added in is nice as well,all done in a frypan,too easy

Michelle June 7, 2011 at 3:03 am

This is the best idea! I love fish sauce and brussels!

Chanel June 7, 2011 at 6:08 am

This looks so delicious! I loooove brussels sprouts … I’ve always been one of those “weird” people who like the foods most people don’t: eggplant, zucchini, okra, brussels sprouts, etc.

Thanks for putting in the vegan/vegetarian replacement suggestion for us non-meat-eating folk!

Art June 7, 2011 at 6:47 am

First time to your blog, and really enjoyed this post! I too am a Momofuku fan (at a distance – I’ve never been there, but have the book!), and enjoyed reading about what they could teach me.

bianca June 7, 2011 at 7:05 am

What lovely tips! I am dying to try momofuku- it is in my 2 year plan.

Liz June 7, 2011 at 11:31 am

Jules, you rock!! Thank you for sharing this recipe. Just made it as a side dish for tonight’s dinner. This is my first time to try Brussels sprouts of my own accord. Wow!!!! Addictive is right. The result was unbelievably delicious (you see, even boiling water is a bit of a challenge for me). I will try this recipe again soon. I do have a question though, can you dress the sprouts before the oven? Just wondering. Thank you again.

Kristen June 7, 2011 at 1:04 pm

I’m a bit of a brussel sprout fan and I love them roasted. Another idea is to add some prawns to the brussel sproats and roast both together in the same pan (I have a bag of those individually frozen prawns from the fish market in the freezer). Spookily simple, fast and good.

Ed June 7, 2011 at 2:30 pm

I’ve started doing something similar with brocoli after I ran out of anchovies and used fish sauce instead. And I’ve been experimenting with shaved brussels with fish sauce.

Interesting where you can go with these things

jules June 8, 2011 at 6:14 pm

Ed,
Loving the idea to try this dressing with broccoli.. and you’re right it is interesting ;)

Liz
very impressed! and thanks for baking up my addictiveness call – If you dress before the oven you’re going to slow down the roasting and caramelisation process (slightly) but the biggest downside is that you’ll blow off all the moisture so the spouts will be dry – could also get burnt chilli and fish sauce so I wouldn’t advise it…

Jenn Brigole June 9, 2011 at 6:22 am

I love these tips. :) Definitely worth posting on the fridge. lol These brussels look delicious by the way. I could eat them just for fun. :)

kitchenvoyage June 10, 2011 at 2:23 am

A good collection of tips! and at last a nice recipie of brussels with overpowering bacon or boiling them.

Kimberley June 10, 2011 at 5:10 am

Yes! This list is awesome. I’m totally inspired by Momofuku and David Chang.

Jen June 11, 2011 at 3:44 am

Pine nuts! What a great addition. I’ll take it sans-fish sauce. But otherwise? Absolutely something I want to try soon. Thanks for the recipe!

katarinka June 18, 2011 at 2:33 pm

Yay! I was one of those bonkers kids growing up who loved vegetables, and I’ve tried doing brussels sprouts myself a few times but I think I end up undercooking them and they just end up bitter and gross? Have never matched the deliciousness of my mother-in-law’s sprouts, but I am definitely going to give this recipe a go!

Also I love your videos! Your voice sounds so kind and familiar, I love it.

Alysa (InspiredRD) June 22, 2011 at 7:10 am

We LOVE roasted brussels sprouts. I can’t wait to try this recipe, thank you!

Erin@TheFoodMentalist June 26, 2011 at 10:39 pm

I have always wanted to go to visit NYC and when I do Momofuku will be on the list of places to eat. Thanks for the post I’m going to try the spouts too they look and sound great. I’m also going to order the cookbook on Amazon soon, can’t wait!! :)

val July 19, 2011 at 1:17 pm

Wow you are so right. This is my new addiction! I thought I had brussel sprouts perfect but this tops them all! Thank youuuuu!

jules July 19, 2011 at 2:16 pm

Awesome Val!
Glad to hear I’ve got you hooked ;)

Albie August 10, 2011 at 10:31 am

You are the best Jules!! Love your recipes .. too easy, yummy and very luscious. I look forward to each email I receive from you!! A.

Lee August 16, 2011 at 1:00 pm

I’ve always liked Brussels Sprouts but after a few bites they started tasting bitter. So I was excited to hear you say “addictive”. SO TRUE! They were absolutely amazing (even though I admit I was scared of the fish sauce). My husband couldn’t quit snagging them out of the bowl before dinner was even served. Thanks Jules!!

jules August 16, 2011 at 6:09 pm

thanks albie!
so glad you’re enjoying

lee
yay for brussels sprouts! thanks for letting me know

ashley September 22, 2011 at 10:47 am

Just tried this recipe and I loved it! Thanks for sharing. Huge thumbs up.

Jessica B. March 19, 2012 at 1:53 pm

My boyfriend and I have never had brussel sprouts before. I’m a vegetarian while he’s the farthest thing from one lol, he was very hessistant to try them. After cooking them my house smelt amazing! We had them with roasted garlic mashed potatoes and fresh salmon. It’s safe to say it is one of our new favorite side dishes!! Thank you so much for this fantastic recipe!

meredith January 15, 2013 at 7:56 am

brussel sprouts are the best vege put on this earth, roasting them, forget about putting them on a plate they will be eaten before they make it there. great recipe

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