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Ad Hoc cookbooks Thomas Keller

A Morning with Thomas Keller: Ad Hoc at Home Book Signing

Ad Hoc hosted a special book signing event called “A Morning with Thomas Keller” at the restaurant yesterday, and I was lucky enough to get an invitation. Chef Keller spent the morning signing Ad Hoc at Home cookbooks alongside Ad Hoc Chef de Cuisine Dave Cruz as the Ad Hoc staff served up hors d’oeuvres featuring selected recipes from the cookbook.

InvitationThe Invitation

It was an exciting day for me because I finally got to meet Thomas Keller and shake the hand of a man whose restaurants have changed my life. As I’ve written before, my first meal at Ad Hoc in June 2007 was a major culinary epiphany for me. It changed the way I thought about how food was prepared and sourced, and it made me appreciate a level of dining that I normally would’ve avoided based solely on cost.

Plowing through booksAd Hoc Chef de Cuisine Dave Cruz (left) and Chef Thomas Keller

When I approached the table, Chef Cruz leaned over and told Chef Keller about my blog and the Ad Hoc Menu Archive. I told Chef Keller about our dinner at the brand-new Bouchon Beverly Hills last weekend (took my mom for her birthday), and he was glad to know we had a great dinner. I also let him know that the entire city of Los Angeles is anxiously awaiting the arrival of Bouchon Bakery. He didn’t really respond to that, but I think he knows that LA wants that bakery. :)

Meeting Thomas Keller...Is he really interested in what I’m saying or does he think I’m a crazy fanboy?

In the end, Chef Keller shook my hand, thanked me for all the support and graciously posed for a picture. Thanks, Simone for snapping this pic. :)

I think this moment could only be topped if I ever met Magic Johnson. :)

Now that that’s out of the way…on to the food! The first thing we were offered were the Albondigas, a veal meatball atop a tomato compote. Unfortunately, I was too busy devouring these to take a picture. Here’s the rest of the spread…

Toast with Fig JamToast with Fig Jam

It’s not really an Ad Hoc party without some fried chicken.

Fried Chicken LollipopsFried Chicken Lollipops
Beef StroganoffA bit of beef stroganoff.

The ratatouille was a simple and brilliant spoonful of soffrito topped with tomato confit, eggplant confit, and zucchini confit.

RatatouilleRatatouille as you’ve never seen it before.

The lemon bars were like mini lemon meringue pies but also reminded me one of my favorite desserts, Bouchon’s Tarte au Citron.

Lemon BarsPerfect Little Lemon Bars

What more do you need when there’s chocolate cupcakes?

Chocolate CupcakesChocolate Cupcakes

Overall, it was a really fun event, and I was honored to have been invited. Thanks to everyone at Ad Hoc for always making me feel at home. Here’s the full set of pictures:


[pictobrowser type=”flickr” userID=”arndog” albumID=”72157622820333911″]

Categories
cookbooks David Chang Momofuku recipes

Cook the Book: Momofuku – Roasted Rice Cakes

Momofuku Week ends with this recipe for Roasted Rice Cakes, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be posting more recipes from the book very soon.

Roasted Rice CakesRoasted Rice Cakes

I had little interest in Korean food until a few years ago. My experience had been limited to the plethora of grilled meats that most people associate with Korean cuisine, and other standards like bibimbap, soondubu, and even banchan were never on my radar. It wasn’t until I ordered the roasted rice cakes at Momofuku Noodle Bar in 2007 that I started get more interested in non-barbecued Korean dishes.

I remember ordering the roasted rice cakes as an appetizer without having any idea what it was. When they arrived at the table, I marveled at the bright red sauce that coated the crunchy-yet-chewy rice cakes. My friend Soo Jin told me that this dish was called dok boki (dok means rice cake), and it soon became a regular order when I was at Korean restaurants.

Roasted Rice Cakes Roasted Rice Cakes at Noodle Bar circa 2007

Momofuku’s roasted rice cakes deviate from traditional dok boki by pan roasting the rice cakes instead of boiling them so that they’re crispy on the outside but still chewy on the inside. According to David Chang, pan roasting is something he only saw in Japan, and to me, the texture contrasts make the dish a lot more delectable.

In the book, Chang says:

“I equate the difference between boiled dok and grilled, griddled or fried rice cakes to the difference between boiled and grilled hot dogs. Each has its place, but that char, that extra bit of flavor and texture you get from the direct heat does a lot for the dok, just as it does for hot dogs.”

Like hot dog carts in New York, dok boki vendors are ubiquitous in Seoul, and this recipe is Chang’s interpretation of classic Korean street food. It features pan-roasted rice cakes tossed in Korean Red Dragon Sauce (recipe below) and garnished with green onions and sesame seeds. The Red Dragon sauce includes roasted onions, which I overcooked slightly but still added a nice smoky flavor. I was able to pick up fresh rice cakes and other ingredients from a great little Korean market near my house.

RECIPE
Roasted Rice Cakes
Note: The recipe calls for ramen broth, but I didn’t have any on hand so I substituted it with bacon dashi. They’re two totally different things, but the end result was still really good.

¼ cup mirin
¼ cup bacon dashi
½ cup Korean Red Dragon Sauce
¼ cup of roasted onions
2 tablespoons canola oil
12 rice cakes (about 3-inch-long pieces.)
1 tablespoon sesame seeds (for garnish)
½ cup sliced green onions (greens and whites, for garnish)

Combine mirin and bacon dashi in a saucepan big enough to hold the rice cakes later. Boil to reduce until lightly thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the Korean Red Dragon Sauce, turn the heat down to medium and reduce the sauce to a glossy consistency, 6 to 7 minutes. Stir in the roasted onions. Cover and keep warm until rice cakes are ready.

While the sauce is reducing, heat a very clean cast-iron skillet over medium heat until hot. Add the oil to the pan and when it just starts to smoke, add the rice cakes. Sear the rice cakes for about 3 minutes per side until they’re light golden brown.

Bring the sauce back up to a a boil and toss the rice cakes in for a few seconds until they’re evenly coated. Add sesame seeds and toss again. Transfer to a serving platter and garnish with green onions.

Korean Red Dragon Sauce
½ cup water
½ cup sugar
¾ cup ssamjang (fermented bean and chile paste)
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
(or mix ½ teaspoon rice vinegar and ½ teaspoon sherry wine)
1 teaspoon sesame oil

Bring water and sugar to a boil in a small saucepan, stirring until sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and let cool for a few minutes, then stir in the ssamjang to dissolve it. Stir in the soy sauce, vinegar, and sesame oil. Taste the sauce; no one flavor should stand out, but all should be present and accounted for. Adjust as necessary.

Categories
cookbooks David Chang Momofuku recipes

Cook the Book: Momofuku – Ginger Scallion Noodles

Day 3 of Inuyaki’s Momofuku Week lightens things up with a dish that has absolutely no meat in it.

Momofuku Ginger Scallion NoodlesGinger Scallion Noodles

One of the book’s easiest recipes the Ginger Scallion Noodles. David Chang says that ginger scallion sauce is “one of the great sauces or condiments ever,” and it’s one of Momofuku’s mother sauces. The ginger scallion sauce is a simple combination of finely minced ginger, thinly sliced scallions, light soy sauce, oil, kosher salt and sherry vinegar. I couldn’t find any sherry vinegar locally so I substituted it with rice vinegar, which worked nicely.

Chang says you can use this sauce on anything and encourages improvising, but I liked his suggestion of topping ramen noodles with the sauce, quick-pickled cucumbers and pan-roasted cauliflower. There’s a bunch of pickle recipes in the book, but my wife did her own version with sugar, salt, and rice vinegar to taste.

You can eat this on its own or as part of a larger meal. Either way, it’s a delicious and healthy option to offset the book’s meat-centric focus.

GINGER SCALLION SAUCE
Makes about 3 cups

2½ cups thinly sliced scallions (greens and whites; from 1 to 2 large bunches)
½ cup finely minced peeled fresh ginger
¼ cup grapeseed or other neutral oil
1½ tsp usukuchi (light soy sauce)
¾ tsp sherry vinegar
¾ tsp kosher salt, or more to taste

Mix all the ingredients together and let sit for 15-20 minutes before using. It’ll keep in the fridge for about a week…if it lasts that long. :)

Tomorrow: Fried Chicken

Categories
cookbooks David Chang Momofuku pork recipes

Cook the Book: Momofuku – Pork Belly Buns

It’s Day 2 of Momofuku Week at Inuyaki and today’s post on Pork Belly Buns is a great way to use the Pork Belly I wrote about yesterday.

Momufuku Pork Belly BunsMomofuku Pork Belly Buns

The Momofuku pork buns quickly (and inadvertently) became one of Noodle Bar’s signature items, and it’s nice to be able to recreate them at home. It’s basically a steamed bun with slices of pork belly, quick-pickled cucumbers, hoisin sauce, and green onions. My wife decided to pickle both cucumbers and carrots, and she julienned both instead of slicing them because it would be prettier.

The recipe for the steamed buns is in the book (link below), but I didn’t have time to make them, so I picked some up in the freezer section of a local Asian supermarket. They’re a little too thick and not as good as fresh, but they did the job. The second time I made this, I found a different style of buns in the refrigerated section of the market that were bigger and rounder and accommodated 2 slices of pork belly easily.

Momofuku Pork Belly Bun

Steam the buns for a couple minutes until they’re heated through. While the buns are steaming, cut 1/2-inch slices of belly across the grain and warm them up before using—I grilled them in a cast iron skillet for about a minute a side. Depending on how big your buns are, you may have to cut the belly slices in half to get them to fit on the bun.

To assemble the pork belly buns, open up a bun and brush some hoisin sauce on top and bottom halves. Put the pork belly slices on the bottom half and pickled cucumbers and carrots on the top half. Garnish with a little green onion and eat immediately.

For reference, here’s what the pork belly buns look like when the restaurant serves them up (from our trip to Noodle Bar in September).

Pork BunsThe “real” Momofuku Pork Belly Buns

Download PDF excerpts of these recipes (via Time Out New York):

Tomorrow: Ginger Scallion Noodles

Categories
cookbooks David Chang Momofuku pork recipes

Cook the Book: Momofuku – Pork Belly

Momofuku Week is a new series I made up yesterday after realizing an epic post I was writing about cooking from the Momofuku book was going to be too long. I decided to break up the posts over the next week since I’ve made enough dishes from the book to cover about a week’s worth of posts already.

Momofuku Pork BellyPork belly fresh out of the oven.

Momofuku’s pork belly is really easy to make, which is good because it’s used in a lot of other recipes in the book, including the famous pork buns, ramen, and sam gyup sal ssam. This was the only the second time I’ve ever made pork belly, and it’s safe to say that it was rousing success. (My first attempt at cooking pork belly was a sous vide version that was good, but I didn’t know what the hell I was doing at the time either.) I also have a piece of pork skin in the freezer waiting to become chicharrones. If I’m lucky, that might be the end of this week. :)

A skinless three-pound slab of pork belly sits in a simple 1:1 salt/sugar cure for between 6 to 24 hours. After discarding any excess liquid, put it roasting or baking dish and roast it fat side up in a 450F oven for an hour, basting it with rendered fat halfway through. Then reduce the oven temperature to 250F and cook it for another hour or so until the pork belly is tender and has—as the book says—”a down pillow-like yield to a firm finger poke.”

After cooking, save the rendered fat and cool the belly till you can handle it. Wrap it in plastic or foil and refrigerate until needed—the belly is easier to cut into uniform pieces when it’s cold. When you’re ready to use the pork belly, cut 1/2-inch slices from the short end of the belly (against the grain) and warm it up. I like to use a cast iron skillet over medium heat to lightly char each piece of pork belly on both sides.

Download a PDF excerpt of this recipe (via Time Out New York):

Tomorrow: Momofuku Pork Belly Buns.

Categories
cookbooks David Chang Momofuku

Cook the Book: Momofuku Week

momofuku_coverI’ve had Momofuku on my mind and in my stomach the last couple of weeks, so I’m declaring this week Momofuku Week at Inuyaki. It’s kinda like Shark Week, only tastier (unless you’re really into shark meat).

After getting my feet wet making the bacon dashi that inspired my Bacon Agedashi Tofu post, I went to a book signing with Chef David Chang and author Peter Meehan at Sur La Table in the San Francisco Ferry Building a few days later and got to show them my creation in person. (Chang’s response: Oh, cool!) We also had a brief discussion about the simplicity and goodness of bacon dashi.

Note: The actual signing wasn’t as boring as this sounds. Chang and Meehan had a lot of fun with everyone and engaged in a bit of scrapbooking for every book they signed. Here’s some pictures, including this gem:

Momofuku Book SigningI’m so cheesy. And why do we look so bloody happy?

The recipes in Momofuku range in difficulty from dead simple to fairly complicated. Chang even apologizes for some of the more complicated ones like his chicken wing recipe, which he says “…is the world’s longest recipe for chicken wings. Sorry. But they’re very, very good chicken wings.”

I chose to focus on some of the simpler recipes to start, but as with all cooking, simple doesn’t necessarily mean easy and often depends on your whether or not your willing to do some prep work.

That said, Momofuku Week officially starts tomorrow. First up: Momofuku Pork Belly!

Categories
Ad Hoc cookbooks reviews steak The French Laundry Thomas Keller

Cook the Book: Ad Hoc at Home – Asparagus and Steak

Ad Hoc at HomeI’ve never been genuinely excited about a new cookbook release, but Ad Hoc at Home marks the first time I’ve had a real personal connection to the recipes in a single cookbook. Inuyaki readers know that I’m a fan and regular diner at Thomas Keller’s casual dining restaurant, and the Ad Hoc Menu Archive is one of the most popular features of this site. My wife and I have been to Ad Hoc 30 times in the last 2½ years (it’s our favorite restaurant) and have always come away wishing we knew how to make some of our favorite dishes, desserts, and condiments at home. I’m very happy to report that Ad Hoc at Home delivers the goods.

The cookbook’s arrival coincided with my birthday, and to celebrate, I invited some friends over for dinner last weekend so that my wife and I could cook for them. From the book, we chose the grilled asparagus and marinated skirt steak and supplemented the meal with polenta topped with a mushroom ragout and SavorySweetLife’s chocolate chip cookies for dessert.

The grilled asparagus, which includes prosciutto, fried bread, poached egg, and aged balsamic vinegar, is pretty easy to put together. After removing the woody bottoms and peeling the asparagus stalks, simply season a couple bunches of asparagus with kosher salt, freshly ground pepper and canola oil and then grill them for a couple minutes per side until tender.

AsparagusGratuitous Asparagus Porn

I had some issues poaching the eggs. I know this sounds silly, but they weren’t coming out as pretty as we wanted, so those eggs became snacks. Inspired by our meal at Commis in Oakland a couple nights before, I decided to have some fun and make 63-degree eggs. How is a 63-degree egg different than a regular poached egg or over-easy egg? The answer: texture.

63 Degree EggA 63-degree Egg

At 63-degrees Celsius, egg whites are just barely set and the yolks have a pudding-like consistency. To achieve this goal, eggs are cooked in a 63C waterbath for about an hour. The precision is important because at 65C, according Harold McGee, the egg whites become “tender solid” as opposed just barely set at 63C. It’s possible to maintain a consistent temperature using a pot on the stovetop, but I have an immersion circulator, which makes things a lot easier. :)

63-degree Eggs
The immersion circulator in action.

The eggs went on the plate last, so my friends got to see these beautiful eggs emerge from a freshly cracked shell. My wife gets credit for the plating of this dish, which is loosely based on the picture in the book.

Grilled Asparagus, Prosciutto, 63-degree Egg and Torn CroutonsThe fried bread croutons are awesome, too.

The marinated skirt steak isn’t a difficult preparation either. I substituted the skirt for flap steak, which is similar to skirt steak and a cut of meat I’ve used before in my Bistek Tagalog. It’s marinated for at least four hours in a mixture of olive oil, thyme, rosemary, bay leaves, peppercorns, and garlic. The meat is seared in a thin layer of oil for about 90 seconds total, adding thyme and butter to the pan and basting the meat after flipping it halfway through. After searing, the meat is placed in a 350 oven on a roasting rack and cooked for 8-10 minutes until the internal temp of the meat is 125F. Rest the meat and slice it vertically against the grain before serving.

Marinated Skirt Steak

That meat looks perfect doesn’t it? There was just one problem. I forgot to season the meat with salt and pepper before I seared it, so it was underseasoned. There was still flavor from the marinade, but the meat was definitely lacking flavor. I was crestfallen. My wife saved the dish by making an impromptu beef/mushroom gravy, but I was so disappointed with myself.

We paired this with some Fra’Mani polenta (sold exclusively at Costco) topped with a trumpet and baby shiitake mushroom ragout. I know polenta is pretty easy to make, but as fans of Paul Bertolli’s Fra’Mani sausages, we had to give his polenta a try and it’s really good. My wife added some strong English cheddar to the polenta for some extra flavor and topped it with the mushrooms.

Fra'Mani Polenta and Mushroom "Ragout"

Aside from the underseasoned steak, which was totally my fault, this meal was a huge success and a testament to Ad Hoc at Home’s accessibility for home cooks. It’s a tribute to Keller and his love for good, homey food, as well as chef de cuisine Dave Cruz, whose influence is present in every meal in the Ad Hoc kitchen. According to Ad Hoc general manager Nick Dedier, Ad Hoc at Home is projected to surpass the 10-year-old French Laundry cookbook’s total sales in just three years. With food like this, it should surprise no one when it actually happens.

Categories
Chinese cookbooks eggs recipes

Cook the Book: The Chinese Cook Book – Egg Foo Yong


Egg Foo Yong

One of my earliest Chinese food memories is enjoying my fair share of egg foo yong and sweet and sour pork from Empress Pavilion, China Palace, and my favorite, Lui’s Kitchen (Facebook fan page) in Saugus, CA. Lui’s was the closest of these restaurants to my house and my gateway Chinese restaurant, but in my mostly white suburb, I had no idea we really eating American Chinese cuisine. Today, despite my expanded knowledge and appreciation of “real” Chinese cuisine, I’ll never give up my love for the Americanized subgenre.

I recently started buying old cookbooks at a used book sale that’s held biannually at work, and one of my favorites is “The Chinese Cook Book” by Wallace Hee Yong. I picked it purely for the kitsch factor since it was published in 1952 and is an encyclopedia of Chinese American classics that most of us have eaten at some time in our lives. The book has been sitting around since I got it, but yesterday I decided that I was going to use it to make some dinner.

chinesecookbook

The egg foo yong recipe is pretty simple, but I did make a few changes. One change most people will probably make is to eliminate the “seasoning salt,” the 1950s word for MSG. I chose to leave it in but will probably leave it out next time I make it (even though my wife loves the stuff). I also left out the bean sprouts and celery because I just don’t like them. Just add a little more of the other ingredients to compensate.

I used ground beef in this version, but any kind of meat or fish can be used. The recipe also says to cook the egg foo yong in 1-1.5 inches of oil or lard, which I found a bit excessive, so we used a thin layer of bacon fat leftover from breakfast and mixed with peanut oil.

INGREDIENTS
4 eggs, beaten
½ cup cooked ground beef (or use your favorite protein – chicken, pork, fish, etc.)
½ cup onion, chopped
½ cup bean sprouts
¼ cup green onion, chopped
¼ cup mushrooms, chopped
¼ cup celery, chopped
1 teaspoon MSG (optional)
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon garlic powder

DIRECTIONS

  1. Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl
  2. Heat desired amount of oil or lard in a small frying pan until it just starts to smoke
  3. Divide the batter into 3 or 4 portions or use a ladle to dispense desired amount into the frying pan.
  4. Fry until both sides of egg foo yong are golden brown
  5. Dry on paper towels and serve with brown gravy and steamed rice.

I also made the book’s stir-fried beef with tomatoes, which turned out nicely even though I cooked it out of order. I’ll make it again before writing about it, and I expect to be cooking a lot more recipes from this book so stay tuned for more!

Egg Foo Young on Foodista