Momofuku Ssam Bar will be the second restaurant in David Chang’s empire to serve the Impossible Burger with the introduction of Impossible spicy rice cakes — a take on the restaurant’s seminal dish, spicy pork sausage and rice cakes — starting Thursday, for lunch only.
Impossible Burger is the plant-based meat substitute developed by scientist Patrick Brown and his bleeding veggie burger company, Impossible Foods — a Silicon Valley company that raised more than $150 million from investors like Bill Gates. Impossible burger is an attempt at replicating the taste and texture of chopped beef, but without the associated impact on the environment, nor the hormones and antibiotics of factory-farmed meat.
Last summer Chang debuted the Impossible Burger at Momofuku Nishi, his Chelsea restaurant. When it debuted, lunch business skyrocketed at Nishi, which was notable, since it happened after a series of negative reviews.
Executive chef Matthew Rudofker has adapted the Ssam Bar classic by substituting the Impossible Burger for the ground pork traditionally used in the dish. While it seems the obvious choice, adapting the spicy rice cakes was not a forgone conclusion. Rudofker experimented with a variety of dishes, using the it in tartare, meatloaf, numerous burger variations, as fillings for ssams, and even in dan dan noodles. But ultimately the rice cakes fulfilled the restaurants ethos of responsible sourcing and crafting flavorful food.
Cooking with the meat substitute poses some challenges. For instance, it has both a lower fat and water content than pork and also tends to caramelize faster, so the recipe and cooking times had to be adjusted accordingly.
But Rudofker feels it is no different, nor more difficult, than cooking with other proteins like lamb or beef. The dish is based on a Bolognese-like sauce using Impossible Burger, roasted onions, Sichuan peppercorns, and chilis served with Chinese broccoli, and fried rice cakes topped with fried shallots.
The Impossible spicy rice cakes dish will be available for lunch only, seven days a week, and will sell for $19—the same price as the original pork version, which remains on the menu.