David Chang is one of my culinary heroes. The closest I’ve gotten to him is dessert at the Milk Bar, where for a few minutes I savored their Cereal Milk like a happy child. Cereal Milk is their soft serve ice cream that tastes like milk after you’ve finished all the cereal in the bowl. I tried their cookies and crack pie, but the ice cream melted a sweet nostalgia into my tastebuds.
Dining in his NYC restaurants, Momofuku and Ko, remain on my bucketlist. While I save up for that, I’ll enjoy leafing through the Momofuku cookbook (which is entertaining even if you aren’t cooking, because it tells the story behind the recipes, the history of the restaurants, the culinary background of David Chang, useful tips/comments, etc.) and attempting some of them in my kitchen.
This dish is one of my easy and healthy umami go-to’s. Initial attempts involved the wrong kind of miso (I used the little packets that came with instant miso soup because I was being resourceful… and oblivious that the miso was yellow and not white), and the wrong kind of butter. The first time I really followed the recipe was for a surprise birthday dinner I cooked for my best friend.
Pan-Roasted Asparagus with Poached Egg & Miso Butter
- 1/2 cup shiro (white) miso
- 8 tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temp.
- 1/2 pound thin to medium asparagus
- Kosher salt
- 1 tsp sherry vinegar
- 4 slow-poached eggs (see instructions in the Momofuku cookbook) or regular poached eggs
- freshly ground black pepper
The Poached Egg
I just poached mine the way I usually do but I really want to try their method out (I’ve yet to get a thermometer). Crack a fresh egg into a glass (makes it easier to slowly put in the pan later). Fill a large, deep pot with water, add a generous splash of vinegar (helps the albumen stay intact) and heat until close to a boil (abundance of tiny bubbles along bottom of the pot). Lower fire so as not to boil. Using a wooden spoon, stir a whirlpool into the water, and slowly pour the egg into the middle. Turn off the fire, leave it there for approx 1.5-2 mins, then fish it out.
Combine miso with 5 tbsp butter and mix until well blended. No butter chunks, no streaky mess. Put this on standby while you cook the asparagus.
Slice off woodier part of the stalks. Line a plate with a paper towel for draining the asparagus. Heat the remaning 3 tbsp butter in a wide skillet over medium heat. When the butter starts smoking, put the asparagus in the pan. (don’t overcrowd, if you have a lot do it in batches) When they start to take in some color (2-3mins) season with a generous pinch of salt and turn the heat down. Turn them while on the pan to color both sides. When they’re nicely slightly charred, transfer to the paper towel plate to drain.
While the asparagus is cooking, heat the sherry vinegar in a small saucepan over medium heat. After half a minute, add the miso butter and turn the heat low. Stir to warm it through. When the butter has loosened slightly (not melted, it should still have a certain viscosity) remove pan from burner and put in a warm spot. (Doesn’t it look so gelatinous and pretty?)
On each plate, smear a quarter of the warmed miso butter into a neat little blob in the middle. Arrange asparagus on it, then top with the poached egg. Finish with some freshly ground black pepper. Serve immediately.
- You need miso butter in your life.
- Looking for a dish to cook on a romantic dinner? This is not one of them. Asparagus-smelling bathrooms/anywhere is a mood killer.
- The miso butter mix (no sherry vinegar yet) can be made to excess, and stored in a well-sealed container in the refrigerator for a few weeks.
- Sometimes I cook the asparagus in olive oil instead of butter.
- When I’m in a celebrating mood, I make the miso butter. When I’m looking for something light, the poached egg provides enough richness for a decent meal.
Next target: Ginger Scallion Noodles
Things I won’t even attempt: Roasted Rice Cakes with Korean Red Dragon Sauce, Shaved Foie Gras with Lychee & Pine But Brittle, The Momofuku Ramen (with bacon dashi)