Monday, August 30, 2010


It's not what you may be thinking; it's the Japanese name of a group of restaurants created by a Korean-American chef named David Chang.

Chang's first restaurant - Noodle Bar -- was a small place; only 600 sq. ft. and 27 chairs. It took off like a rocket and he and his group of investors then opened Ssam Bar which does wrapped food as it's done in Korea. Ssam flew as well as Noodle Bar did -- after awhile. He opened Ko last and it's now his flagship store. Clean, simple ingredients put together in front of the patrons via a glass-enclosed kitchen.

Chang is a pork enthusiast, finding joy in pork bellies, bacon and pork cheeks. French chefs make their own bouillons; Chang makes "dashi." This is a seaweek and dried fish broth that's used all over Japan.

He makes a Bacon Dashi --
Two 3" x 6" sheets of konobu (dried seaweed)
1/2 lb. smoky bacon
8 cups of water

Rinse the seaweed, put it in the pot of water and simmer for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and let it sit in the pot an additional 10 minutes. Take the konbu out of the water (apparently it holds together) and add the bacon, bring it to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes then throw out the bacon and chill the broth. When a fat cap forms, discard it and put the liquid in a bottle or container.

He's big on pickling and feels that cucumbers, radishes, daikons, apples, pears, beets, cantaloupe or watermelon are all good candidates.

Salt Pickling
1 T sugar
1 teas. kosher salt
Mix the two in a bowl, toss in the vegetable of choice and let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes. If the pickles are too salty or two sweet, rinse them off in a colander, dry them and taste again.

Vinegard Pickling
1 cup hot water from the tap
1/2 cup rice wine
6 T sugar
2 1/4 teas. kosher salt

Combine the above and pour over the trimmed vegetables. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Snap a lid on it and refrigerate it for a week for optimum flavor. Chang says you can eat them right away, but the longer the wait, the better the taste.

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