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Review and Giveaway: David Chang’s Momofuku

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Posted by : Guest Blogger, Wed, Dec 16 2009

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David Chang has become the leader of a sort of culinary cult in New York. I remember going in to Momofuku Noodle Bar in the off hours after a long day of training at the French Culinary Institute. I'd been thinking of his perfectly velvety smooth pork buns all day.

I would feast on his now overtly-famous pork belly bites of goodness, wishing I could afford to buy another plateful for the day. At the FCI, all the chefs knew who he was-- this odd, often introverted character who had, in a few years time, made it to the top ranks of the culinary world.

So you can imagine how excited I was to attend his only Canadian book launch for his much-anticipated first cookbook, Momofuku.  I had been waiting for the book to come out for a while. I was scared the book wouldn't meet my expectations (way too high), that the recipes might be dumbed down and with it the beauty of the Chang cuisine lost. Boy was I wrong.

As Chang explained, his cookbook is more of a culinary documentary of the journey that led him to where he is now - he comes off as neurotically insecure, the text riddled with PG13 language- but all in the most charming of ways. That Chang takes his food seriously would be an understatement. His borderline unhealthy obsession with making ramen noodles is just the beginning of the story that ends with Chang making it to the top of the culinary world.

Chang has been trying to move away from any simplistic labels that would define his food and when asked if his food could be characterized as "fusion," I could almost feel him shiver. Fusion doesn't even begin to describe the food that comes out of the Chang kitchens. Fusion is a reductionist term that tries to place food into categories when the Momofuku ventures have always tried to step out of the often conservative definitions of great food.

The Momofuku recipes are so rich because they are so culinary diverse, a fusion of world cuisines, if anything. From southern-inspired grits, to perfect Japanese ramen noodles, to using the French technique of compound butter to the all-American apple pie - make that fried apple pie with miso butterscotch - there's not a food mood this book can't satisfy.

Peter Meehan, co-author of the book, said it best: "It's probably more difficult to shop for the ingredients in the cookbook than it is to make the recipes in it.", and I agree. For those who are not used to stocking up their pantry with authentic Asian ingredients, that might be the biggest challenge.

The boldness and often complex flavour profiles of the Momofuku recipes are why this cookbook is so interesting. But it's not just a book of recipes: it's an open door into the crazy world of David Chang and his friends, and his constant search for the most flavorful food. It's like getting into Chang's overly-perfectionist head, thinking he's just a little crazy but in the end respecting the food that comes out of his kitchens that much more.

Jennifer Bartoli is food writer and food photographer currently based in Montreal.

GIVEAWAY: We have two copies of the much-anticipated cookbook from David Chang, Momofuku, courtesy of Random House of Canada. This an amazing cookbook and definitely on my wish list. Email me at blog(@)foodtv(.)ca with Momofuku in the subject line the answer to this question: What city hosted David Chang's only Canadian book launch? Please see contest rules.

Related:Our Favourite Cookbooks: Gift Ideas


Posted: Wed, Dec 16 2009 by Guest Blogger
Filed under: Books

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