Has anyone been to Momofuku? Visiting a David Chang restaurant has been on my short list for many moons. And a few weeks ago serendipity intervened. I was in DC for work and as the cab pulled up to my hotel, I spied a telltale electric pink 'milk' sign belonging to Momofuku CCDC just across the way. Cue the heart eyes emoji. But my luck didn't stop there. By some small miracle I had no plans for lunch or dinner that night. I made a quick calculation as to whether this good fortune outweighed the impropriety of going to the same restaurant twice in one day. It totally did and so I went. Don't judge.
Among the many ridiculously delicious things I ate between my two outings (pork buns, shrimp buns, spicy noodles), it's the cucumber salad that's been occupying my daydreams. It's the kind of salad you want to eat a bucket of - crunchy, refreshing, salty, and spicy. I more or less did eat a bucket since the cucumbers were such a perfect foil to the rest of the rich, heavy fare we ordered. Although I had the good sense at the time to ask our server how it was made I did not have the good sense to write it down. Of what she shared all I recall is 1) it's finished with togarashi and 2) the dressing contains pureed scallions. Curiously though you use only the light and dark green parts. This stayed with me since it's the opposite of what I've been conditioned to do with scallions.
I did a bit of Googling but the internet failed to turn up a recipe so below is my best attempt. Is it spot on? Of course not. I'm no David Chang. But it was pretty darn good and should hold me over until Momofuku sets up shop in Boston.
- 4-6 mini seedless cucumbers (these require no peeling and have less water than the big honkers)
- 2 scallions, roughly chopped (light and dark green parts only, toss the white bulb)
- Handful cilantro leaves (about 1 cup, loosely packed)
- 1 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled + roughly chopped
- 5 Tbs. neutral oil (canola, peanut, or safflower)
- 1 Tbs. rice vinegar
- 1/2 cup almonds, toasted
- 1 serrano chile, thinly sliced
- Togarashi spice
- Kosher salt
- Chop cucumbers into small chunks (split in half and then slice crosswise into 1 inch pieces).
- Line a colander with paper towels. Place cukes in colander and sprinkle generously with salt.
- Let the cucumbers sit at room temperature (or in fridge) for about 30 minutes. This will infuse flavor and also sweat out some water.
- While you're waiting make your dressing. Place scallions, ginger, cilantro, oil, rice vinegar, and a pinch of salt in a blender. Puree until smooth and taste for seasoning.
- Toast almonds in a dry skillet over medium heat until fragrant and beginning to brown. Let cool and then roughly chop.
- When ready to dress and serve, pat cucumbers dry with a fresh paper towel.
- Toss cukes, dressing, almonds, and serrano chile in a bowl. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with togarashi and a few more almonds.