running with the 'in crowd': momofuku's chicken and octo vinaigrette

freestyle friday
notes from maggie's farm

I've always eschewed the 'big thing'. If it's the trendy thing to do, it's the thing I wouldn't do. If stacked bobs were in fashion, I was growing my hair out. When long hair was in fashion, I wore a short shag. If country blue was the color-of-the-moment with which to decorate, I went powdery pink. Rustic?  I went victorian. Vampire novels in?  Im reading the classics. Macarena? Foxtrot. Earth shoes? Mules. Mules? Earth shoes.  You get the idea. Pretty much my 'style' was to not be 'in style'. Nothing's really changed.

So when the whole Momofuku buzz started up around the food blogs, I was not hopping on that train.  Hmph, i thought. A Japanese restaurant really had this fabulous fried chicken? And they dip it in this vinaigrette? Wha?? My sweet grandmother must be rolling over. I am a loyalist. My Gana had the best fried chicken. period. Nobody is changing my mind about that. 
But I must admit, Gana's fried chicken, just like most traditional fried chicken, is a tad labor intensive. And, okay, a little um, well, indulgent. (oh it pains me to type that.) And messy. I generally emerge from the kitchen with a beautiful plate of golden fried, but battered head to toe, and leaving a fine layer of flour over most surfaces. I've never gotten to the point where I could present it as 'company food'. It's usually a most-of-the day proposition, too.  I'm going to keep working on that. In the meantime…….
After all of the hullabaloo, I caved to peer pressure, and decided I had to try it out, expecting fully that this post would be about how crazy the idea that Momofuku's chicken was so delicious that some people favored it over the real deal. And friends, what I came to realize, is...... that there is a place at the table for traditional and trendy.  Shut my mouth!  I'm not about to say it's better than my sweet grandmother's--those words simply cannot form themselves. However, come to find out, like the stacked bob and the updo, there's room enough at our table for both.

So, my sweet babydolls, let's make some Momofuku Fried Chicken.
From Leite's Culinaria*, and straight from the chef's mouth….

Momofuku’s Fried Chicken Recipe
4 cups lukewarm water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup kosher salt
One 3- to 3 1/2-pound chicken, cut into 4 or 8 pieces
4 cups grapeseed or other neutral cooking oil
1. Combine the water, sugar, and salt in a large container with a lid or a large freezer bag, and stir until the sugar and salt dissolve. Pat the chicken dry. Add the chicken pieces to the brine, cover or seal, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and no more than 6 hours.
2. Set up a steamer on the stove. Drain the chicken and discard the brine. Put the chicken in the steamer basket (if you are using a stacking Chinese- style bamboo steamer, put the legs in the bottom level and the breast on the top). Turn the heat to medium and set the lid of the steamer ever so slightly ajar. Steam the chicken for 40 minutes, then remove it from the steamer and place it on a cooling rack to cool. Chill it in the refrigerator, preferably on the rack, for at least 2 hours or up to overnight.

3. Take the chicken out of the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before you fry it.
4. Pour enough oil for the chicken to be submerged into a deep skillet. Heat it to 350°F (175°C). Fry the chicken in batches, turning once, until the skin is deep brown and crisp, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove to a paper towel–lined plate or a cut up brown paper bag to drain.

5. If you haven’t already, cut the wing from the breast, cut the breast in half, and cut through the “knee” to separate the thigh from the drumstick. Place the chicken in a large bowl, toss with the vinaigrette, and serve hot.
Momofuku’s Octo Vinaigrette Recipe

2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
2 tablespoons finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
1 fresh bird’s eye or Serrano chile, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup usukuchi (light soy sauce)
2 tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral oil
1/4 teaspoon Asian (toasted) sesame oil
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
Fresh ground black pepper

To make the octo vinaigrette, combine the garlic, ginger, chile, vinegar, soy, grapeseed oil, sesame oil, sugar, and a few turns of black pepper in a lidded container and shake well to mix. That’s it.

(This will keep in the fridge for 4 to 5 days, and is good on everything except ostrich eggs, which is really more the ostrich’s fault than the vinaigrette’s.)

We served this luscious platter-full with a simple, lightly steamed slaw of broccoli, with stems peeled and sliced, yellow squash, and red cabbage, sliced thinly, roasted peanuts, ground, and tossed with the same vinaigrette, above. Perfect accompaniment.

So, you ask, how is this healthy? It is fried, after all. Well, lemme show you how much oil this non-battered fried chicken retains ---------------->;                                                                                                               Yep, that is the oil, drained, and rebottled after frying.  It's less than an eighth of an inch lower than it's original level. And that's for the entire chicken. I think that's a winner.

*Upon the date of this recipe's first blog posting, I was quite green regarding proper 'blog etiquette'.  Although I did have a modest amount of wherewithal, and attributed Leite's Culinaria, above, I posted without asking, or even contacting David Leite, or his gracious team.  However, to show you what nice people produce the work that I have followed since my first days on social media, never a word was said.  In fact, it was with great honor that I received the very nicest email from David's editor, Renee, asking if they might use a picture of the Octo Vinaigrette, from above. I am absolutely over the moon to be represented by photo on the site that I've so admired.  Please do visit the site, connect on social media--heck, send them a pie!  Name your new puppy 'Leite'!  David and his team are so lovely, and beyond that, smart, informative, and funny, funny, funny.  Thank you, David and Renee!


  1. The chicken was wonderful, even the next day for lunch. Yes, believe it or not, there was some left over after my trip to the table.

  2. hi honey! We're doing pork and peaches this weekend. please bring home pork. we have peaches.

  3. This looks fabulous! My mother's family is from the South so I hear you about the traditional fried chicken thing. I think it is a mother's legacy to teach her daughter how to deep fry:) I'm loving the sauce and side dish as well. Looks like we have some fried chicken in our future.

    PS Love your shoes! Where did you get them? Hope you guys have a fantastic weekend.

    1. Let me know what you think about the whole process when you make it. It seemed complicated at first, but after I got my hands going, it really wasn't so bad. And it tastes amazing. I hate to use the work amazing because it's overused and dilutes its meaning, but I have to tell you, in it's original form, this stuff is AMAZING.

      p.s Target, girl. I'm a little cheap. lol

      Thanks for dropping by and hope your weekend is wonderful, too!

  4. Maggie will you cook me some of this next time I see you Pretty please with sugar and a cherry on top?


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