I live on the other side of the country from David Chang's highly-respected Momofuku restaurant. As such, I have to content myself with reading descriptions of their whimsical Asian-influenced dishes in reviews instead of tasting them.
Now Williams-Sonoma is carrying two cooking sauces developed and endorsed by the restaurant. Both have a soy sauce base and a dash of mirin. The Clay Pot Cooking Sauce gets an additional infusion of lemongrass, ginger, coriander, and cinnamon, while the Asian Braising Sauce is enhanced with pear juice and habanero chilis.
Tasted straight from the bottle, the Clay Pot Cooking Sauce is super sweet (the fact that the first ingredient is demerara sugar should have been a tip off!). It also has a deep savory undertone and a citris snap. I used it to braise chicken legs and then thickened it with some cornstarch to spoon over the dish.
As a braising sauce, this worked magic. I cut the sauce with an equal amount of water, as was recommended by the sample recipe on the bottle, and then simply let the chicken cook. After about 40 minutes, the chicken was falling off the bone and seasoned through from the sauce. It had sweet garlicky notes with clear flavors of cinnamon and star anise. Really delicious.
The reduced sauce that I used to finish the dish was another story, however. It was heavily sweet to the point of cloying, and quite honestly, inedible. Perhaps the Momofuku sauce isn't meant to be made into, well, another sauce, but it seemed like a waste to just pour it down the drain after the chicken was done.
My overall feeling on this Momofuku sauce is that it's good for 1) braising, just as I did with the chicken, or 2) adding to a sauce to finish a dish. The quantity used for braising doesn't seem to translate directly into its own finishing sauce, but I think a few tablespoons added to a sauce or used to finish off a stir-fry would work really well. I haven't had a chance to cook with the pear and chili Momofuku sauce yet, but based on their similar base flavor profile, I'm anticipating a similar result.
They may not be a magic bullet to restaurant-worthy dishes at home, but these sauces are still well-made products that can add a lot to an average weeknight meal. I'm excited for their potential use as a finishing element; the Clay Pot Cooking Sauce, in particular, would make a nice alternative to regular soy sauce. If you're looking for some new flavors to play around with, I think it's worth picking up a bottle of either one and seeing where it takes you.
• Momofuku Cooking Sauce, $16.95 per bottle from Williams-Sonoma
Apartment Therapy Media makes every effort to test and review products fairly and transparently. The views expressed in this review are the personal views of the reviewer and this particular product review was not sponsored or paid for in any way by the manufacturer or an agent working on their behalf. However, the manufacturer did give us the product for testing and review purposes.
(Image: Emma Christensen)