True to my reputation of being a cookbook ‘neek’ (my son’s term of endearment for me-nerd and geek) I had the Momofuku cookbook on Amazon pre-order months before it was published. David Chang, the author, and owner/chef of this cult New York restaurant is a bit of renegade. The name means ‘lucky peach’ but also does sound a lot like motherfucker. Think Anthony Bourdain, but picture chubby and Korean. People queue up all day for his signature dishes; fried chicken with ginger, roasted pork belly, home-made noodles, steamed buns and pickles of every sort. When the book arrived I read it cover to cover over a weekend. His irreverent voice makes you laugh out loud and mouth-watering recipes make you want to get on the next plane to New York. (I went at Christmas and never got in-two hour wait in freezing cold)
Of course, the first two recipes I did were the easiest-the pickles and the ginger scallion noodles. Some of them take days to make but I reckon you could add some shortcuts. There is even a blog where (a bit like Julia and Julia) someone is cooking their way through the book.
http://momofukufor2.com/It’s actually quite good and gives you confidence to have a go yourself.
My mother used to make refrigerator pickles from the abundant kirby cucumbers in my father’s garden. I have tried to re-create them many times in my life but never to great success. One of the biggest problems is getting the right cucumbers. Britain’s crop is horrible; big, tasteless, poly tunnel giants, full of water and no flavor. Luckily though, Persian or Lebanese cucumbers are sold here in green grocers and Middle Eastern shops. Refreshingly sweet with firm flesh- you won’t need to peel or seed. It’s what a cucumber should taste like and they make great pickles as well. These keep for about 1 week refrigerated but I doubt they will stick around that long. I serve them as a snack alongside sushi or laced in a turkey sandwich with mayo and mustard. If you’re feeling ambitious try Chang’s slow roast pork belly and steamed buns to go with them.
Momofuku cucumber pickles
prep time 15 minutes
makes 4 cups of pickles
8 Lebanese/Persian cucumbers
500ml/16 fl oz/2 cups very hot water
250ml/8 fl oz/1 cup rice wine vinegar
12 tbsps castor sugar
4 1/2 tsps sea or kosher salt
Trim the ends off the cucumbers and slice into .5cm or 1/4 inch thick pieces. Mix the remaining ingredients in medium bowl until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Add the cucumbers, cover and refrigerate for up to a week. They are very tasty even after one hour, so feel free to eat quickly thereafter.