I wanted to understand how Chef David Chang created some of his wonderful specialties like Kimchi Butter, so I decided to look deeper into the tasty treat purchased. As well as the wonderful kimchi consommé (refers to usually a clear broth, but I am assuming it refers to a lighter version of kimchi) topping on our Oyster appetizer recently at Momofuku in New York City last weekend to see if I could duplicate it at home.
The kimchi butter was purchased at Milkbar behind Momofuku: Noodle House (standing room only).
To understand a fusion like his recipes you have to understand the core of both ingredients- Kimchi and Butter.
Deconstruction of 'Kimchi Butter' from Momofuku-
Kimchi is a Korean pickled vegetable dish which is usually made by fermenting cabbage. Any kind of cabbage like bok choi or Chinese cabbage can be used although traditionally kimchi is made with napa cabbage.
The recipe for kimchi is a very versatile dish and it can be incorporated in soups, salads and stews. Although it can be purchase at any local Asian market, it can easily be prepared at home. I plan to make kimchi in my quest in learning more about Asian cuisines that I have not tried before.
2 Napa cabbages
2 tablespoon fish sauce
3 cups salt
2 tablespoon shrimp paste
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 ripe apple,pureed
1 tablespoon ginger, minced
1/4 cup red chili powder
1/4 cup spring onions sliced
The ingredients tell me that the chili powder and fish sauce give the kimchi its rich dark red coloring, which transfers to the butter in a lighter orange coloring.
If we look at how simple making Butter is, we might even begin making our own, as it taste better than any store bought brand. My grandmother made her own, and I remember how she kept it in a mason jar in the refrigerator.
First you start with 1 quart pasteurized good tasting organic heavy cream (check the label—you want just cream, no stabilizers, certainly not ultra-pasteurized, nor fillers)
1. Put the cream in a large mixing bowl of an electric mixer or use a hand held mixer. Put the mixer whisk in the bowl and then cover the bowl with plastic wrap to keep the buttermilk from splashing.
2. Beat the cream at medium to high speed until splashes of liquid start hitting the plastic and you can see solid pieces of butter.
3. Set a sieve over a bowl and pour the contents of the bowl into it. Gently knead the butter to release all of its liquid (about 3 minutes). Save the buttermilk for drinking, baking, smoothies, soups, stews, etc. Work salt into the butter if you like. Wrap the butter well in plastic because it loves to absorb orders. You can freeze the butter, or refrigerate it up to a week.
The blending of the two created a wonderful spread for toast, and was great when I stirred some into a bowl of risotto we had for dinner. I how ever decided to try using it for sauteing fresh fiddle heads which are in season in my area the beginning of April. I also sauteed some shrimp to see if it influenced the flavor.
After heating my pan to medium and placing a tablespoon full of oil, I added the Fiddlehead ferns, and the shrimp in another pan with tomato and garlic. My first attempt at adding the kimchi butter in the hot pan showed that it quickly, almost too fast, dissolved and spattered as if water were present. This made me realize I could only add it in the final process of removing ferns and shrimp to a bowl and stirring in a tablespoon of kimchi butter.
The flavor was good. However I do believe if it is house made butter then it is infused with water from the kimchi as a result from a use of their consommé, or the fact most vegetables contain more than half of their make up through water. Ever wonder why your lettuce and cabbage slowly dries out even in the crisper? Forced air still draws out water from vegetables exterior. Fresh butter will also contain small amounts of butter, as processed butter water is removed by machine mixing and removal.
Mixing in the kimchi before the butter solidifies would result in the kimchi butter blend you find in Momofuku's product. I would only recommend using it as a spread or final butter topping for vegetables. I am still excited about trying to make my own kimchi and kimchi butter, because it was worth waiting in what seems like an always busy line at Momofuku- Milkbar.
"I experiment with Flavors"...
Elizabeth Stelling, hails from her home state of Texas and has been involved in the food industry via institutional, fast food, B&B's, ethnic eateries and other restaurants since she was fourteen. Now living n New Jersey she has ran her own cafe, teaches culinary classes, runs a small boutique catering and staffing business, restaurant consulting for NJWBO, is a personal chef and shares her love of cooking with local, organic, healthy, and natural ingredients with the community.
Chef E is a member of Slow Food and the American Wine Society, Princeton, New Jersey. She has published written works of poetry and media pieces, as well as ran Open Mics in the Princeton, NJ area.
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