Welcome to The Hot Dish, a new series that delves in to the making of the dishes of the moment.
[All photographs by Nick Solares]
"We wanted to see how we could elevate the steak experience," says Momofuku Ssäm Bar's executive chef Matthew "Rudy" Rudofker when asked for the reasoning behind the new, reservation-only large format ribeye. There has been a dry aged rib steak on the Momofuku Ssäm bar menu for many years, available on a walk in basis. But by offering reservations, the steak can now be served with a host of sides and accompaniments that would be difficult to offer on a moment's notice. The quintessential pairing of Caesar salad, steak, and French fries is given the Momofuku treatment — what Rudofker calls "proper and efficient" cooking. Classic French techniques are employed in much of the process — the Béarnaise and Caesar salad are both textbook versions — but the crispiness of the fries is bolstered with a little molecular magic, and the aged trimmings are rendered down and reincorporated into the dish, both as a basting agent for the steak and also as a component in many of the sauces.
The steak is fabricated from a Niman Ranch rib that has been dry aged for 28 days by butchers DeBragga and Spitler. Rudofker stresses the importance of hormone and antibiotic free beef, which he says has far less water than commercial cattle. This is especially important for the purposes of dry aging, as the process is about expelling as much water as possible. The chef claims that this type of beef requires less time to develop the funky, nutty, blue cheese-like notes that are the hallmark of dry aged meat. Indeed, the raw steak is redolent with these aromas. The steak is paired with condiments intended to enhance the flavor of the beef: brown butter combined with dry aged fat drippings, and a red wine and onion marmalade that is spiked with allspice and juniper. Even the ketchup, ostensibly intended for the fries, is laced with bacon.
Here is a look at Rudofker preparing the ribeye meal.
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