Lucky Peach: Issue 1 review

David Chang makes delicious food.  That much I know having made a pilgrimage to NYC to eat at Momofuku Noodle Bar (twice), Momofuku Milk Bar, and Momofuku Ssam Bar.  He has given us many recipes in his Momofuku cookbook, so I was curious to see what he would bring to his new food quarterly, Lucky Peach.

The first issue of Lucky Peach is devoted to the topic of ramen and is a fascinating read with bonuses of new versions of recipes of the Momofuku ramen broth.  I made the original version published in the Momofuku cookbook, which took about ten hours and produced a rich and flavorful broth.  When I made the original version, I went to the Asian supermarket and was in the checkout line with the ingredients, including one pound of bacon, five pounds of pork bones, and three pounds of chicken.  My Spanish is not very good, but I heard the guys at the check-out line say “loco…”

Version 2.0 ramen recipe seems more streamlined.  Instead of steeping the shiitake mushrooms in the broth and then discarding them, he recommends pulverizing them into a powder and adding them to the broth.  Downside is no spent shiitake mushrooms to pickle, but the upside is a more intense mushroom flavor. Roasted pork bones have been eliminated from the recipe.  It still takes a long time, but makes over a gallon of good broth that can be frozen.

Some recipes are recycled from Momofuku cookbook, like Bacon Dashi, Alkaline Noodles, Pork Belly, and Pork Shoulder, but I guess they are there so that one can make a complete bowl of ramen from Lucky Peach rather than buy the cookbook.  New recipes that look interesting include Carrot Dashi, Tonkotsu-style Broth, and Arpege Egg.  There are other recipes that seem gimmicky like different ways to use instant ramen – ramen-crusted skate, oriental chip dip (mix the seasoning packet from a package of instant ramen into some sour cream and voila!).

The writing is quite good.  There is a nice travelogue piece by Peter Meehan that describes Peter and David’s visits to various ramen shops and the distinctive differences between them.  Harold McGee, scientist/author of On Food and Cooking, describes the alkaline part of alkaline noodles.  It is quite an education in the world of ramen.

Overall there is a nice mix of writing, food education, and recipes that is quite unique.  I am hoping for some more original Momofuku recipes and am looking forward to upcoming issues!

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