In New York, a city that’s all about the latest and greatest, never has there been a chef that has caused such a buzz as David Chang. Founder and owner of Momofuku, David Chang is known for making unique, cheap, mesmerising fusion Asian food that has his patrons talking about it days, weeks, months, even years after dining at any of his restaurants. This is one of his creations which is really easy to make and packs a serious punch in the flavour department.
David Chang. Ramen obsessed, quirky, edgy, brash, entrepreneur, rebel – a handful of words that only scratch the surface to describe this Korean-American chef who has become an unlikely superstar in the culinary world. Named in the Times Top 100 Most Influential People in 2010, he’s known for his “bad boy” attitude, like his “no reservations, no vegetarian options” policy and claiming Californian chefs “don’t manipulate food, they just put figs on a plate.” Anyone reading this post surely must laugh at that.
What is it about David Chang and his food? I’ve been fortunate enough to have dined at his New York restaurant, Momofuku Noodle Bar and Momofuku Seibo in Sydney. Getting in is a story in itself – I’ll share that another day. The thing with David Chang is the creativity of his food – he, practically single handedly, has catapulted Korean food into the limelight of the western world with his modern and creative takes of classic Korean dishes. Like Ssam – which is meat wrapped in lettuce leaves. His Pork Bo Ssam is epic. His Pork Belly Bun looks innocent enough when it first arrives at the table, then you stick it in your mouth and your eyes will literally roll back in your head with pleasure. His Kimchi Stew is a flavour explosion like no other. His chicken wings look like any other chicken wing until you take a bite, and you can’t help but wonder “Why the hell is this so good???”.
Even his sides are stellar. Corn with Miso Butter and Bacon. Without a doubt the best corn I have ever had in my life. Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Fish Sauce Vinaigrette. “I don’t know about that…”, you say. Reserve judgement until you try it. It will blow your mind. Brussel Sprout haters, be warned, you will be converted!
I could write pages and pages about David Chang, his restaurants and his food. But getting down to business – his Marinated Skirt Steak Ssam. This is the first recipe I tackled from his cookbook Momofuku. In the cookbook, the two sauces to accompany this are the Ginger Spring Onion Sauce (which I’ve included) and the other is pureed Kimchi (which is Korean pickled chilli cabbage). Though I like the pureed Kimchi (which literally is just pureed kimchi), I really love the Ssam sauce he uses for his Pork Bo Ssam so I’ve used that instead. It has a strong salty, chilli flavour, like a Korean version of miso and chilli paste and matches perfectly with the juicy slices of beef and fresh lettuce.
Other than having to track down Kochujang (Korean Chilli Paste) and Ssamjang (Korean fermented bean and chilli paste) at the Asian grocery store , everything else are everyday ingredients you can get from any large grocery store. However, I have also provided directions for the Kimchi puree, in case you can’t track these two ingredients down.
This is deceptively simple to make. I think many people assume that famous chefs always create complicated food. Not David Chang. Most of his recipes are actually really easy, it is more about a unique combination of flavours.
This is a fantastic classic Korean marinade which is so great for grilling beef, chicken or pork. Hope you consider giving it a try!
- 2 lb / 1 kg skirt / flank / hanger steak (Note 1)
- 2 cups apple juice
- ½ cup light soy sauce
- 5 garlic cloves , minced
- 1/2 brown onion
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 8 oz / 250 g shallots/scallions , thinly sliced
- 5 g fresh ginger , finely chopped or minced
- 4 tbsp grape seed oil (or another neutral oil)
- 1 1/2 tsp light soy sauce
- 3/4 tsp sherry vinegar
- 3/4 tsp salt (adjust to taste)
- 1 tbsp ssamjang (Korean fermented bean-and- chili paste, available in many Asian stores)
- 1/2 tbsp kochujang (Korean chili paste, available in many Asian stores)
- 1/4 cup sherry vinegar
- 1/4 cup grape seed oil (or another neutral oil)
- 3 small heads of Bib Lettuce , leaves removed, washed and dried
Combine Beef with Marinade and marinade at least overnight, up to 24 hours.
Remove beef from marinade. Preheat outdoor grill or heavy based skillet on stove on very high heat. You want it to be screaming hot. Cook the beef to your liking (see notes for guide).
When done, remove from heat, cover loosely with foil and let them rest for 5 to 10 minutes.
Make the Ginger Spring Onion Sauce by combining the ingredients and mixing to combine.
Make the Ssam Sauce by combining the ingredients and mixing well until smooth.
Slice the beef into 0.5cm / 0.2 inch thick slices, against the grain.
Serve with lettuce, Ginger Spring Onion Sauce and Ssam Sauce on the side.
To eat, place a piece of beef in a lettuce leaf, top with some of each sauce, then fold over lettuce, eat and be happy.
1. You can substitute the skirt steak with other cuts of beef. But one of the great things about this recipe is that it uses skirt steak which is a budget cut, and turns it into something so amazing. Try to use a cut of steak that isn't too thick because otherwise the marinade won't infuse enough into the meat.
2. The original recipe in David Chang's "Momofuku" cookbook uses a Kimchi Puree as the second sauce instead of the Ssam sauce. The Ssam sauce is also from his cookbook and is served with his famous Pork Bo Ssam. It's such a great sauce and goes wonderfully with this recipe which is why I have used this instead of the Kimchi Puree.
However, if you want to use Kimchi Puree instead, simply puree 250g/8oz of Kimchi to a chunky paste.
3. These nutrition facts assumes this serves 6 people and that you use all the sauce (which is where a lot of the calories are because of the oil in them) but the reality is that you probably won't use all of it so the calories are overstated. Skirt steak is actually a very lean cut and the meat itself is only 250 calories. The balance of the calories are from the sauce.