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Momofuku Chicken & Egg

June 14, 2010

A little while back my friend Bev sent me a NY Times article (I think it was the NY times) reviewing a new cookbook by David Chang, of Momofuku fame. Subsequently I encountered heaps of references to the book on other blogs, so… a few months ago I finally bought the book, a few weeks ago I finally started reading it, and a week ago I finally started cooking from it.

I love cookbooks that go beyond providing recipes to telling a story and teaching life lessons, and this book does just that. Peter Meehan, in his colorful unmanicured way, does a brilliant job of recounting David Chang’s rise to fame, being sure to take stock of all the collateral damage caused along the way. And tucked away into the pages of the story are educational nuggets on topics like the history of ramen. Great stuff. And makes a fun coffee table book as well.

I’m only part way into the book, but I thought I should try cooking something from it, and believe me looking for a recipe that seemed doable was no mean feat. Some of the ingredients asked for are not commonly found, and the processes involved are hardly every straightforward. This recipe for Chicken & Egg was one of the easier ones I came across when I did a quick thumb-through of the book.

(I’d like to take a breather here to give major props to the author of Momofuku for 2, a cook-your-way-through-Momofuku blog project akin to Julie Powell’s trek through Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I am completely amazed she’s managed to make it this far, and the blog is gorgeous.)

This deceptively simple-looking dish was actually quite a bit of trouble to assemble, but it was certainly worth the effort. Soaking the chicken in brine and subsequently smoking it and pan frying it gave it the most beautiful flavour, while keeping the meat moist and the skin perfectly crispy. This is NOT your average fried chicken, no siree. My husband and I didn’t talk much over this meal, but every few minutes I would hear a satisfied “Mmmm…”

Before I give you the recipe, I should mention that:

  • The original recipe actually calls for the chicken to be cold smoked, but I didn’t have the necessary equipment to do so, so I adopted Chang’s alternative smoking method instead, which involved cooking the chicken with bacon.
  • I am typing this recipe off the top of my head because I’m too lazy to copy it word for word from the book. Also, instead of giving you four separate recipes for the slow poached egg, pickled cucumber, smoked chicken and rice, I am laying all the processes out here in one recipe.
  • You might notice two yolks in the above photo of my Chicken & Egg. That is because every single egg in this batch of large eggs that I bought had two yolks! Poor chicken. Who knows what they injected her with…

Okie dokie here we go… Momofuku’s Chicken & Egg.

Momofuku Chicken & Egg

(adapted from David Chang’s Momofuku)

Ingredients (serves 4):

  • 4 cups lukewarm water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup salt
  • 4 boneless chicken legs
  • 1 kirby cucumber or some other little cucumber
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 strips streaky bacon
  • 5 cups of pork or duck fat or grapeseed oil or other neutral oil (I used sunflower oil because I’d run out of grapeseed but I think  grapeseed would have been better)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups Japanese short-grain rice
  • 2 cups water

Directions:

1. Mix water, sugar and salt in a medium sized bowl with a lid or a large ziploc freezer bag till sugar and salt are fully dissolved. Add in chicken pieces and marinade in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour and up to 6 hours.

2. Pre-heat oven to 85 degC.

3. Remove chicken from the brine, and arrange chicken pieces in an oven-safe dish that is just the right size for the chicken (so that you need less fat/oil to cover the chicken). Tuck the bacon in with the chicken and cover the chicken with the oil or melted fat.

4. Put chicken into the oven and cook for 50 minutes.

5. (Pickled Cucumber) Slice cucumber thinly and toss into a bowl with salt and sugar to coat. Set aside.

6. (Slow Poached Egg) Fill a big pot with water and place a steamer rack inside. (You can use any other elevated platform to prevent the eggs from touching the floor of the pot – Chang suggests throwing a bunch of chopsticks into the pot.) Warm the water on low heat till it reads 60-63 degC on a thermometer. Adjust the heat so that the temperature remains steady, then place the eggs onto the steamer rack and allow to cook for 40-45 minutes, checking often to make sure the temperature stays constant. Remove eggs from pot, crack each egg into a little dish and pour away the most liquid part of the white. The egg is now ready for use in step 9.

7. (Rice) Cook rice according to rice cooker directions; or put rice into a small-medium pot, pour water over it, cover the pot and heat till water is boling, then reduce heat to low and continue to cook covered for 20 mins or until all the water is absorbed into the rice. When rice has cooked, fluff up the rice using a rice paddle to release the moisture, then leave cover on with a slight gap.

8. Remove chicken from the oven. Heat a griddle on high heat till it is very hot, then put chicken pieces onto the griddle and cook skin-side down for 4 minutes. Weigh it down with another pan (or you could do what I did and place a sheet  of aluminium foil over the chicken and place something heavy on the foil). Chang says not to cook the chicken on the other side but I found my chicken was still a little raw, so I also cooked it skin-side up for 3 minutes. Slice chicken into 1/2-inch to 1-inch- thick pieces.

9. To assemble each Chicken & Egg bowl, scoop one serving of rice into the bowl, create a little cavity in the middle and plop an egg into the cavity. Fan cucumber slices  around one side of the bowl, and chicken slices around the other side.

Here are pictures of steps 3, 5, 6 and 8 (when the chicken first came out of the oven, still looking somewhat raw).

I will say it again. This is NOT your average fried chicken. SO GOOD.

Visiting a Momofuku restaurant is definitely on my to-do list for our next trip to New York!

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14 Comments leave one →
  1. June 14, 2010 8:46 am

    I will give this a try! It’s easier to cook the chicken in oven rather than in a wok, hehe…

  2. June 14, 2010 11:50 am

    Seems not very straight-forward to make the entire meal(or chicken)….I may not have patience to follow this through :O … the finally presented “don” looks scrumptious

  3. cons permalink
    June 14, 2010 8:57 pm

    wow, yum yum looks really nice!!!! I simply love the egg!

  4. mrsmultitasker permalink*
    June 14, 2010 10:41 pm

    Little Inbox: Yes you definitely should! I don’t think you’ll have any problem. Just make sure you have enough time.. it takes a while!

    tigerfish: Thank you! It IS a don =)

    cons: Thank you dear! You should try it.. you will like it =) I made some extra eggs and my hubby and I wolfed them down…

  5. June 15, 2010 1:40 am

    Interesting! 2 egg yolks in 1 single egg? Which brand? The recipe looks and sounds complicated to me! Don’t think I can digest at one glance. Beautiful food presentation! Looks so tempting! 😉

  6. mrsmultitasker permalink*
    June 15, 2010 9:04 pm

    Thanks food-4tots!
    And that’s a really good question… I can’t remember! But it’s some brand I’d never bought before. Usually I buy Chew’s for large eggs.

  7. cons permalink
    June 15, 2010 10:18 pm

    oh do u think it is worth it to get the book? after all, kino 20% sale is on!

  8. June 15, 2010 11:59 pm

    Hi cons… If you want a book full of simple recipes you can use frequently, this is NOT the book!! But if you want a really fun and educational read about food and starting a restaurant, and some awesome but not so easy recipes to drool at, this is IT!

  9. Ellie permalink
    June 16, 2010 9:36 am

    I love momofuku recipes. I have always wanted to try this but never get around to do it. Looking at yr fantastic results, I am going to try it soon.

  10. June 17, 2010 5:43 pm

    Oh Ellie it will be easy for you! Btw you were one of my primary inspirations in my decision to buy the book =)

  11. Eunice permalink
    June 17, 2010 8:35 pm

    Wow, your facebook is fast becoming one of my favourite reads. Love the pics and the detailed write ups. Is the book available in Singapore?

  12. June 17, 2010 10:39 pm

    What a lovely thing to say! Thanks Eunice =)
    Yes the book is available, but it’s very much more expensive here than off Amazon. You can see/order it at my Amazon store. It’s S$67.69 at Kino vs. US$25.31 at Amazon, so even with international shipping it’s almost S$20 cheaper to order it off Amazon, and if you order more than one book from Amazon you get economies of scale because you split the base charge between more books. Haha I do this quite a lot can you tell…

  13. June 23, 2010 12:29 pm

    LOL at the two egg yolk eggs. I can’t believe every single egg had two yolks… a bit scary really!

    The recipe sounds simple, but like other Momofuku recipes, there are quite a few steps involved. Looks like it was worth it though… the chicken looks soooo good!

  14. June 25, 2010 8:34 pm

    April: Haha yeah it is really. I’m sticking to Chew’s next time!

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