Momofuku is everywhere on the food blogosphere. It is essentially a group of restaurants based in the East Village of NYC. I personally have to tried at any of the restaurants, but I am dying to. NYC is too far but amazon is just a click away, so I got myself the cookbook instead! I received the book a few days before Valentine's day, so I decided to cook something from it. I settled on the most hyped about pork belly which is used in two of Momofuku Noodle Bar's most popular dishes - ramen and pork buns. What caught my eyes was also the mustard seed sauce which he served with the grilled version of his famed pork belly at his Ssäm Bar.
The sauce was indeed "good on the pork belly and anything that needs a sharp, pungent, pickle-dotted sauce to brighten it up".
Roast Pork Belly
I would suggest using a thicker slab of pork belly, the one I got was quite thin and skinny and so not a lot of rendered fat, resulting in a not-so-tender meat. Nonetheless, it was still tasty (a bit on the salty side) and was really good with the mustard seed sauce.
- 700g pork belly (skinless)
- 2 tbs sugar
- 2 tbs salt
2 days before:
- De-skin pork belly if you can't find any skinless.
- Nestle belly into a roasting pan or other oven-safe vessel that holds it snugly.
- Mix together salt and sugar in a small bowl and rub the mix onto the meat; shake/ brush off any excess salt-sugar mixture.
- Cover pan with clingfilm and put it into the fridge for at least 6 hrs, and as long as 24 hrs. (I left it overnight.)
The day before:
- Pre-heat the oven to 230°C.
- Discard any liquid that has accumulated in the pan.
- Roast belly in the oven for 45 mins - 1 hr, basting it with the rendered fat at the halfway point, until it's an appetising golden brown.
- Reduce oven temperature to 120°C and cook for another 30 mins or so. The belly should be a little resistant, a little firm, shy of jiggly tenderness.
- Remove pan from oven, decant the fat and the meat juices (reserve for later use i.e pasta).
- Allow belly to cool.
- When the belly is cool enough to handle, wrap it in clingfilm and put it in the fridge until it's thoroughly chilled and firm. (I left it overnight.) You can shortchange this step if you are pressed for time, but the only way to get neat, nice-looking slices is to chill the belly thoroughly before slicing it.
On the day:
- Switch oven to broil mode.
- Slice pork belly and broil pieces of belly until well browned. You can also grill the meat if you have a grill.
Pasta with Mustard Seed Sauce
This was a last minute thought. The original pork belly ssäm was served with rice.
- 150g spaghetti
- Pickled cucumbers - drained and diced (recipe see below)
- 1/2 or more of mustard seed dipping sauce (recipe see below)
- 1 cup low sodium vegetable stock OR water
- Freshly ground black pepperDirections:
- Mix together 1/2 the amount of the mustard seed dipping sauce with 1 cup of stock or water and whatever pork belly juices you managed to reserve after roasting in a pot or pan.
- Slowly heat this up (the sauce will thicken as it heats up).
- Add more mustard seed dipping sauce to taste.
- While sauce is simmering, cook pasta according to instructions on package. Drain and reserve for later use.
- Mix diced pickled cucumbers to mustard sauce.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Mix together pasta and mustard seed sauce and serve with roast pork belly.
Mustard seed dipping sauce
I used English mustard instead of Chinese mustard here and left out the 3 tbs of pickled cucumbers as I wanted to add the cucumbers straight to the pasta sauce. Very flavourful with ust the right amount of kick. The addition of mustard seeds added a really nice nutty flavour.
- 6 tbs pickled mustard seeds (recipe below)
- 3 tbs Dijon mustard
- 1 tbs English mustard
- 3 tbs Japanese Kewpie mayonaise
- 3 tbs spring onions (greens & whites) - thinly sliced
- Combine everything in a small bowl and stir until evenly mixed.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Store in fridge, use within a day or two.
Pickled mustard seeds
- 1/4 cup yellow mustard seeds
- 1/4 cup + 2 tbs water
- 1/4 cup + 2 tbs white wine vinegar
- 2 tbs sugar
- 1 tsp saltDirections:
- Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to the gentlest of simmers over low heat.
- Cook the mustard seeds, stirring often, until they are plump and tender, about 45 mins.
- If the seeds look to be drying out, add water as needed to the pot to keep them barely submerged.
- Cool and store in a covered container in the fridge.
This recipe can be used for many different types of pickles like radishes and daikon. The book suggest sprinkling some thinly sliced vegetables witha 3:1 mix of sugar to salt and toss. 10 to 20 minutes later, they are ready to eat and the resulting pickles have a fresh snap. I find it wasn't tasty enough after 10 minutes, so I suggest leaving it for at least 1 hr.
- 1 small cucumber - cut into 1/8-inch-thick disks
- 1 tbs sugar
- 1 tsp saltDirections:
- Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl.
- Toss to coat.
- Let sit for 5-10 mins. I suggest leaving for about 1 hr before using, toss to coat every now and then.
Final dish - Roast Pork Belly on Pasta with Mustard Seed Sauce, Momofuku Style
WB: It sounded rather odd to me when I first heard it from the PigPig, but later it does mix together quite well. The mustard based sauce provides sufficient taste to the pasta to be eaten on its own, but when mixed with the roast pork there is really good symbiosis going on; the meat providing saltiness to the dish while the mustard sauce goes naturally well with the pork. My only complaint is that I would have preferred more sour pickling of the cucumbers.
Valentine's Day Dinner Starter - Prawns with Crispy Parma Ham Topping Served with Creamy Garlic & Saffron Sauce --> Recipe here
Valentine's Day Dinner Dessert - Strawberries & Creme Pattissiere --> Recipe here