Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Kitchen Time Well Spent with Momofuku

I wrote on another blog that I had ordered and received new books about cooking. I passed one on to my husband's daughter to read knowing she would find it more than interesting. She is very much me in so many ways that it is scary. No DNA shared; but our interest overlap constantly and continually.

The book I loaned her was Momofuku; which is pictured above. She called me a week or more later reporting her progress with the book. First of all, her husband turned to her and said that she was "Karen" (that's me) before he had always said she was a female version of her father and called her "Jim". Isn't that special that she is now a combination of the two people who love her the most! She kept referring to the book as "Mamafuckyou" instead of Momofuku from her angst at gathering ingredients and cooking for days messing her kitchen up to the max making sure she would never open that book again!

On her next trip up here, she dropped or threw the book back at me. LOL

I took a few days, hours upon hours to really examine this notorious book. I figured out that one must be ready to create many recipes so that one could actually serve most any of the dishes described in the book. The author has a sense of humor. I think he actually knows how this book will affect his readers. I believe he is laughing at our efforts way before we even start them. I can see him thinking that yes, he can really create great exciting, interesting and complicated wonders that will wow any true "foodie"; but let's watch any of them try to actually re-create his wonders.

I was not scared off either by him or by my daughter. I decided to first create a list of what was needed to produce anything. I have included that list here:

Oriental Groceries
bamboo shoots
denjang (Korean fermented bean paste)
dried red chili peppers
dried shiitakes
fish cakes
fish sauce (Squid Brand)
hoisin sauce
jarred salted shrimp
katsuo-bushi [dried fish flakes
kochukaru [Korean red pepper chili powder]
mustard seeds
nori [seaweed]
potassium carbonate
rice vinegar
sesame oil roasted
sesame seeds
sherry vinegar
shiro [white miso]
sichuan peppercorns
sodium carbonate
ssämjang [fermented bean and chili sauce]
star anise
usukuchi [light soy sauce] Yamasa Brand
salted shrimp
Toban jan
chinese sausage
dried shrimp
dried scallops
dried fish flakes (Mackerel)
fried shallots packaged
Mayonaisse Kewpie
green onions
napa cabbage
regular onions
active dry yeast
baking soda
black pepper
bread flour
grapeseed oil
kosher salt
mustard seeds
non-fat dry milk powder
sherry vinegar

OK, I then could figure out what I could realistically make since I live in a small rural community that has little oriental anything. I found the soy sauce brand at one of our Rays Food Store; which almost knocked me over. I placed an order with http://www.everydayjapanese.com/ for the items I could find on that site. They are printed red on the list. I ordered the soy sauce before going to the store, so now I will have two bottles of that special light soy sauce. The bill came to $45.00. They ship for $10.00 regardless of what you order, so I made the most of it. They emailed me to say that shipments from Japan were delayed. So now, I was dealing with not only a list of unknown ingredients but with a tsunami too! I am now wondering if any of my product will be affected by the leaking nuclear plants. Hopefully, the product was harvested before the tragedy recently impacting Japan.

Now for the work. I decided I could do the pork belly, pork shoulder, and sausage since I had all the ingredients or could buy them locally. From those items I could make steamed buns and clams along with having enough pork belly to also make bacon from my Food Hero cookbook. On Friday, I did some shopping and came home to make a dinner of Clams from Momofuku. I felt like we were dining at a fine restaurant. YUM! I saved the left over broth just because it was way too good to give to the dogs. (to be continued)

I cooked approximately 6 lbs of pork belly (which I had special ordered from Rays), 10 lbs of pork shoulder and 3 lbs of pork sausage. I salted down the remainder of the pork belly to make bacon in 3-4 days from now when it is ready. I mixed up the dough for steamed buns; which was no more difficult than making my usual bread recipe.

My kitchen started looking like a war zone with every large pan and kettle dirty at various times. Both the shoulder and pork belly had to be salted and sugared and covered in the fridge over night; which I did the evening before the big cook fest.

Momofuku uses unfilled steamed buns to create a sandwich of sorts from pork belly, green onions and sauces. I found the steamed buns no more difficult to mix up than my usual bread. I chose to put some pork belly in the bun before steaming thinking that they would be easy to grab when we wanted one. I then decided that the shoulder and sausage could be good choices for stuffing steamed buns. I made 50 buns the first day using some of the sausage and pork belly and like the crazy person I am; I made an additional 100 buns the next day. Hey, logic is that I will never go here for a very long time so why not make a lot and get it over with. I froze them on cookie sheets and then dumped them in bags. We can have green onions with sauces when we eat them. I cannot tell you how many my husband, mother and I ate in that two-day period caring little if we had green onions. They were really tasty! I have a bamboo steamer with two levels. It took forever at 15 minutes a pop. I now know why the Momofuku Restaurant buys frozen steamed buns made by someone else.

I gave my mom and myself a bowl of soup, one of those cooking days, using that left over clam broth, meat scraps, green onion and cut up steamed buns for a soup. I was in love all over again! Everything tasted so dern good!

We also had for dinner since made with scraps of various meats tossed with some noodles adding a fish sauce from the book along with a dash of mirin and chopped green onions. Gads!! Delicious. Did I say I am in love?

The moral of this adventure is that it does take a lot of work to create meals from Momofuku, but I think it will always be well worth it. My freezer is full of small containers of shredded pork, pork belly, sausage and steamed buns. I plan to amaze my family and friends with those delightful exciting taste over and over with little work on my part. I plan to make Momofuku's ramen base soon adding the pork belly and pork shoulder along with chicken later this week. I also am looking forward to the chicken wing recipe and the list goes on.

If you purchase this great recipe book, sit down to digest the whole book first before you start making anything. If you try to create a dish without reading the book, you will find yourself stuck without some of the ingredients. The ramen base is important along with the pork shoulder and pork belly. You won't have time for the 6 hours of cooking to make the shoulder or will find yourself short of a magic sauce because you don't have one of the ingredients for it. Momofuku's dishes seem to be very connected. I plan to have a Momofuku connection between my cupboards, freezer, oven and Japanese bamboo steamer along with vegetables from my garden. So go ahead say "mamafuckyou". I will laugh and be proud to be called out something very close to my most loved Momofuku.

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We blog about our rural area in the Pacific Northwest . This blog is all about my life and the places where my mind wonders from day to day. Have fun reading and looking at pictures. We welcome comments.

Be sure to watch, just above this blurb, my husband, Jim, using his 10 foot hands-free electric fishing kayak


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Be sure to check out the separate blog to find out about our electric kayak, Kingfisher 10! You can find the blog at http://electrickayakkingfisher-10.blogspot.com . You can also read the features list on this kayak and purchase building plans and building kits at www.winchuckriverstore.com .

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We moved to our current home on the Wild River Coast of Southern Oregon from San Jose, CA. Our family consist of Jim and Karen, two dogs and two cats. Karen's passion is gardening. Jim's obsession is building electric powered fishing kayaks and fishing.