Friday, February 20, 2015

Chilled Spicy Noodles {Momofuku Inspired}

A little over a year ago we went to New York City to visit our good friend and get a little escape from the cold Wisconsin weather.  Although New York was not a lot warmer, 40+ degrees felt like a mini heat wave to us back then, and with the below zero temperatures lately, I would gladly take 40+ degrees again.  
 It's probably no surprise that I fell in love with New York, if for nothing else, for the food.  It's also no secret that New York is known for their excellent cuisine and seemingly endless supply of fantastic dining options.  However, I never thought it could be that good.  Every meal I had was the best version of that meal that I'd ever had.  Best sushi, best burger, best dessert, best fried fish, etc.  

One of the best meals we ate there included a dish that I can still practically taste even now a year later - Momofuku's Chilled Spicy Noodles.  Momofuku Noodle Bar is one of David Chang's famous creations and very popular among locals and tourists alike.  This was one of the restaurants we stood in a long line outside to even get in the door...but it was so worth it.  

In recreating this dish, I tried to find copycat recipes online as well as simply look at the ingredient list on the Momofuku menu. It was actually really hard to find anything that looked and sounded similar to the dish but I think this came super super close.  Just to warn you, if you have the dish at the real Momofuku,it is so so SO spicy. The kind of spicy that makes the waitress double check to make sure you actually want to order it.  The kind of spicy that makes you want to keep eating because it's so delicious, and you almost feel that if you keep eating your mouth will somehow magically stop being on fire - but it continues to burn. worth it (in my opinion).  However, sometimes things are too spicy to really enjoy, so I toned this version down just a bit - it's still spicy enough to make your nose run but not quite enough to make you drip with sweat.  I know - what a yummy description, right? :)  

A few things make this dish unique: the combination of pork sausage, crispy roasted shallots, candied cashews, the spinach, and of course - ramen.  But it's also unique because it is served chilled - although you can certainly eat it warm or cold and it will still be tasty.  The one thing that I know it's lacking from the Momofuku version is sichuan peppercorn.  I couldn't find it at my grocery store but I only checked my usual place so if anyone knows where I could get some, let me know.  
Lately I've discovered the joy (and sometimes pain) of cooking with whole dried red chile peppers.  The first time I cooked with them they filled the kitchen with what felt like poisonous gas and gave the effects of pepper spray to our lungs.   After adjusting the amount of chile peppers and the timing of adding them to the pan, I think I've developed a less lethal that's a plus. Word to the wise - start with only a few , take all the seeds out, and add other ingredients in the pan quickly after.  They definitely add an unmistakable flavor and kick to any Asian dish and I feel that's what mine have been lacking.  

If you aren't a fan of spicy food - fear not, you can simply omit the chile peppers and still enjoy the flavors in this dish.  But whatever you do - you should definitely go to New York.  

Chilled Spicy Noodles
Serves 2-4

There are quite a few components to this dish but you can make a lot of it ahead of time and since it is a dish that is meant to be served chilled, it won’t matter if things are cold by the time you serve them. 

FLAVORED OIL: (make at the beginning and let sit)
Take about a quarter cup of sesame oil and add one tablespoon of dried red chilies, and one half teaspoon of ground ginger and one clove of garlic, minced.  Let it sit.

CRISPY TOASTED SHALLOTS: Thinly slice shallots, toss with oil, and roast in a 400 degree oven, stirring often to avoid burning. They should be crisp, so about 15 minutes or more should be good.   

Wash, dry and put aside one handful of spinach per person.

½ cup of cashews
¼ cup of sugar
2 tablespoons of water

Throw cashews, sugar & water together in a sauce pan and heat it over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Once that happens, you continue to cook it, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes or until the sugar crystallizes.  The cashews will look like a pile of mush with the sugar but as long as it’s crystallized that’s okay – they will get crunchy in the oven next. J

As a final step, scrape the cashews onto a cookie sheet and roast in a 350 degree oven for about 10-15 minutes, or until they are slightly browned and crisp. Stir occasionally to prevent burning. Put aside to cool.

1 lb. ground pork
2 shallots
1 tablespoon red chiles (about 4 dried whole chiles, seeds removed)
3 cloves garlic
1/3 cup water
1 tablespoon sugar
Splash of fish sauce
Splash of soy sauce
1-2 scallions, chopped

Fry ground pork until nicely browned and cooked through. Remove from pan and set aside.
Drain excess oil and add sliced shallots (or onions) and cook slowly so that they caramelize. When they are done, add them to the bowl with the pork and mix.

In the same frying pan, add some sesame oil and when it gets warm, add some dried red chilies to your taste.  Wait a 5-10 seconds and then add three cloves of garlic to the pan and continue to sauté them until they become fragrant. Then add 1/3 cup of water, tablespoon of sugar, and two splashes: one of fish sauce, the other of soy (or just soy if you don’t want or have fish sauce). And when that gets to bubbling up, return the pork and shallots to the pan with a big handful of chopped scallions and stir until well mixed. Put aside.


When you are ready to eat, prepare ramen noodles (I used the good ol’ 25 cent/package instant ramen and just didn’t add the seasoning packet). Drain and toss with the oil and a little bit of soy sauce. Then, into a big bowl drop a handful of spinach leaves, a pile of noodles, a pile of pork, and some candied cashews. Finally, sprinkle the top with the crispy shallots. 


Recipe adapted and inspired by Momofuku & Stacey Dewolfe


mal said...

I made these last week and they were absolutely amazing! Quick q - for the chilies - do I cut these up or cook them in the recipe whole for spice, but not actually eat them?

Đẩu Anh said...

Dịch vụ nhận đặt mua hàng đồ nội thất ở Quảng Châu
Đơn vị chuyên nhận lấy hàng từ Trung Quốc ở Việt Nam
Đơn vị chuyên nhận gom hàng từ Quảng Châu về Việt Nam
Đơn vị chuyên nhận đánh hàng hóa từ Trung Quốc ở Việt Nam

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Ellie Perkins said...

Thank you so much for taking the time to share this with us! Two questions: 1) when you say dried red chilies, do you mean dried Thai red chilies, or a different kind? And 2) when you're making the oil, do you dice up the red chilies or use them whole?

Thanks in advance!