In the bustling metropolis of New York, a city perpetually in pursuit of the newest and most extraordinary, no chef has stirred up as much excitement as David Chang. The founder and proprietor of Momofuku, David Chang has forged a reputation for crafting distinctive, budget-friendly, and utterly captivating fusion Asian cuisine that leaves his patrons raving long after their visits to any of his restaurants. Here’s a dish from his repertoire that is remarkably straightforward to prepare yet delivers a powerful flavor punch.
David Chang himself is a fascinating character, an unapologetic devotee of ramen, known for his idiosyncratic, daring, and rebellious spirit. These descriptors barely scratch the surface of this Korean-American chef who has emerged as an unexpected superstar in the culinary realm. Named one of Time’s Top 100 Most Influential People in 2010, he’s gained notoriety for his “bad boy” approach, including policies like “no reservations” and “no vegetarian options,” and his audacious claim that Californian chefs simply “put figs on a plate.” For anyone reading this post, that assertion surely brings a smile.
What sets David Chang and his cuisine apart? I’ve had the privilege of dining at his New York establishment, Momofuku Noodle Bar, and Sydney’s Momofuku Seibo. The experience of securing a reservation alone could fill its own tale—perhaps one for another day. But the true essence of David Chang’s culinary prowess lies in his inventive cuisine. He has essentially propelled Korean cuisine into the Western spotlight with his modern and imaginative interpretations of traditional Korean dishes. Take, for instance, Ssam—meat wrapped in lettuce leaves. His Pork Bo Ssam is nothing short of epic. The Pork Belly Bun may seem unassuming at first, but one bite will send your taste buds into ecstasy. His Kimchi Stew is a flavor explosion unlike any other, and even his chicken wings, seemingly ordinary, will have you pondering, “Why on earth are these so incredibly delicious?”
Even his side dishes are spectacular. Corn with Miso Butter and Bacon is unequivocally the finest corn I’ve ever tasted. Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Fish Sauce Vinaigrette might raise some eyebrows, but withhold judgment until you’ve tried it—it’s a revelation. For those who profess to dislike Brussels sprouts, be prepared for a conversion!
I could devote countless pages to David Chang, his dining establishments, and his culinary artistry. However, let’s get down to business—the Marinated Skirt Steak Ssam. This is the first recipe I embarked upon from his cookbook, Momofuku. In the book, there are two sauces suggested to accompany this dish: the Ginger Spring Onion Sauce (which I’ve included) and the other, pureed Kimchi (a Korean pickled chili cabbage). While I appreciate the pureed Kimchi, I truly adore the Ssam sauce used for his Pork Bo Ssam, so I’ve opted for that instead. It boasts a robust salty, chili flavor akin to a Korean version of miso and chili paste, and it pairs flawlessly with the succulent beef slices and crisp lettuce.
Apart from tracking down Kochujang (Korean Chili Paste) and Ssamjang (Korean fermented bean and chili paste) at the Asian grocery store, all the other ingredients are readily available at your local supermarket. However, I’ve also included instructions for the Kimchi puree in case these two ingredients prove elusive.
This dish is deceptively simple to prepare. Many assume that renowned chefs exclusively craft intricate dishes, but David Chang’s recipes often focus on a unique interplay of flavors rather than complexity.
Here, you’ll find a fantastic classic Korean marinade that’s perfect for grilling beef, chicken, or pork. I hope you’ll consider giving it a try!