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Asian-Inspired Meal from Superstar Chef

David Chang is probably the most talked-about chef in the country, a true culinary superstar.

The three-time James Beard Award winner is the chef and owner of the Momofuku Noodle Bar and several other New York restaurants.

Chang also just just launched the highly-anticipated Momofuku Cookbook, to rave reviews.

Momofuku means "lucky peach" in Japanese, and "The Early Show Saturday Edition" was lucky enough to get Chang to agree to our "Chef on a Shoestring" challenge. He tried to make a three-course, Asian-inspired meal on our paltry budget of $35.

"Early Show" recipes galore!

In so doing, Chang's chef hat was automatically tossed into our "How Low Can You Go?" competition, in which the "Shoestring" chefs with the lowest ingredient costs will be invited back for our holiday extravaganza.

• Apple Buttermilk Salad
• Roasted Chicken Legs with Radishes and a Ginger Scallion Sauce
• Roasted Brussels Sprouts
• And for dessert: "Crack Pie" (no crack, but plenty of butter, cream and sugar)


Dashi: Used extensively in Japanese cooking, dashi is a soup stock made with dried bonito tuna flakes, Dombu and water. (Source: Food Lovers Companion)

Kombu: Particularly popular in Japanese cookery, kombu is one of the two basic ingredients used for Dashi (soup stock). It's a long dark brown to grayish-black seaweed, which, after harvesting, is sun-dried and folded into sheets. Kombu is sold in Japanese and natural food markets and when stored unopened in a dry place it will keep indefinitely. After opening, store in a cool, dry place for up to 6 months. Kombu has a natural white-powder covering that delivers considerable flavor. For that reason, the surface should be lightly wiped off, not washed. Kombu is used to flavor cooked foods as well as for sushi. It's sometimes pickled and used as a condiment. Kombu is also called simply kelp. (Source: Food Lovers Companion)

Confit: This specialty of Gascony, France, is derived from an ancient method of preserving meat (usually goose, duck or pork) whereby it is salted and slowly cooked in its own fat. The cooked meat is then packed into a crock or pot and covered with its cooking fat, which acts as a seal and preservative. Confit can be refrigerated up to 6 months.


Buttermilk Salad with Apple Dashi

2 cups real apple juice
Two 4x4 inch sheets of kombu (kelp seaweed, can be found at Asian supermarkets)
1 teaspoon of sesame oil
1 tablespoon of sherry vinegar
1/4 cup of soy sauce
Pinch of salt
Freshly ground pepper

Place the sheets of kombu in a saucepan with the apple juice, sesame oil and sherry vinegar. Mix well. On low heat, steep kombu (like tea) at 145 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes. Remove kombu and then add the soy sauce. Season with salt and pepper and mix well.

2 cups of local buttermilk
4 sheets (10 grams) of gelatin
Cut chives, chive flowers, roasted pine nuts and frisee for garnishment

Bloom 4 sheets of gelatin in ice water until soft. Squeeze out access water. Melt the gel into ½ cup of warm buttermilk. Add rest of the buttermilk. Set and chill in the refrigerator 3 hours.
Spoon out 3 irregular pieces of the gelled buttermilk in a bowl and top with apple dashi. Garnish with chives, chive flowers, roasted pine nuts and frisee.

Roasted Chicken Legs with Ginger Scallion Dressing

8 cups lukewarm water
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 boneless chicken legs
2 strips smoky bacon, if not cold-smoking the chicken
5 cups rendered pork or duck fat or grapeseed or other neutral oil, or more if needed
1⁄2 cup sliced scallions (greens and whites)

1. Combine the water, 1 cup of the sugar, and 1 cup of the salt in a large container with a lid or a plastic freezer bag large enough to accommodate the brine and chicken and stir until the salt and sugar have dissolved.
Add the chicken, cover or seal, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, no more than 6.
2. Remove the chicken from the brine and discard the brine. Cold-smoke the chicken. (If you do not have the resources to cold-smoke chicken, just add the optional bacon to the pot in the next step. It won't be the same, but it will be close.)
3. Heat the oven to 180°F.
4. Pack the chicken legs snugly into a pot or other oven-safe vessel-the shape doesn't matter so much, but the less extra space there is, the less fat will be required to submerge the chicken. (If you did not smoke the chicken, tuck the bacon in with it.) Heat the pork fat until warm and liquefied and pour it over the chicken to cover. Put the chicken in the oven and cook for 50 minutes. Remove the pot from the oven and cool to room temperature.
5. Put the chicken in the refrigerator to thoroughly chill it in the fat. The chicken can be prepared through this step a week or more in advance.
6. When you're ready to serve the dish, heat the chicken confit in its pot, in a low oven (around 200°F) or on the stovetop just until the fat liquefies.
7. Remove the chicken from the fat with a slotted spoon and put it on a cutting board or large plate; set the pot aside. Heat a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat for a minute or two, until the pan is hot (hold your hand over the center of the pan-it should feel hot from an inch or so away). Add the chicken legs skin side down (use two pans if too crowded), and brown them deeply, 3 to 4 minutes, on the skin side only, using a bacon press or a small heavy skillet to weigh them down while cooking. Transfer the browned legs to a cutting board.

Ginger Scallion Dressing

2-1/2 cups thinly sliced scallions (greens and whites, from 1 to 2 large bunches)
1/2 cup finely minced peeled fresh ginger
1/4 cup grapeseed or other neutral oil
1-1/2 teaspoon light soy sauce
3/4 teaspoon sherry vinegar
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste

Mix together the scallions, ginger, oil, soy, vinegar and salt in a bowl. Taste and check for salt, adding more if needed. Thought it's best after 15-20 minutes of sitting, ginger scallion sauce is good from minute it's stirred together up to a day or two in the fridge. Use as directed or apply as needed.

For more recipes, go to Page 2.

Fried (or roasted) Brussels sprouts with fish sauce vinaigrette

Fish Sauce Vinaigrette (recipe below this one)
2 tablespoons very thinly sliced cilantro stems, plus 1⁄2 cup cilantro leaves
3 tablespoons chopped mint
Grapeseed or other neutral oil, as needed (lots for frying, little for roasting)
2 pounds Brussels sprouts
1⁄2 cup puffed rice tossed with 1⁄2 teaspoon grapeseed oil and 1⁄2 teaspoon shichimi togarashi (Japanese 7-spice powder)

1. Combine the vinaigrette, cilantro stems, and mint in a bowl, and set aside.
2. To fry the Brussels sprouts: Heat 11⁄2 inches of oil in a wide skillet over medium-high heat until a deep-fry or instant-read thermometer registers 375°F. Line a plate with paper towels. Fry the sprouts in batches that don't crowd the pan for 4 to 5 minutes each, until the until the outer leaves begin to hint at going black around the edges. Drain on the paper towels.
To roast the Brussels sprouts: To roast them, heat 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil in an oven-safe wide skillet (12 to 14 inches) or 3-quart sauté pan over medium heat. When the oil slides easily from side to side of the pan, add the Brussels sprouts cut side down. When the cut faces of the sprouts begin to brown, transfer the pan to a 400°F oven to finish cooking, about 15 minutes. The sprouts are ready when they are tender but not soft. Proceed.
3. Fry the cilantro leaves. If you fried the Brussels sprouts, you're all set up. Make sure the leaves are dry and fry them by the handful, dropping them into the 375°F oil and agitating them with a slotted spoon or spider so they don't clump together. Give them 5 to 10 seconds to crisp, then drain on paper towels. If you roasted the Brussels sprouts, heat about 1 cup of oil in a small sauté pan or skillet-the oil should be 1⁄2 inch or so deep-over medium-high heat until a deep-fry or instant-read thermometer registers 375°F. Fry, stir, and drain the leaves as directed.
4. Toast the puffed rice: Heat a small skillet over medium-high heat for 1 minute or so, until it's hot, then add the puffed rice. Toast, stirring occasionally, until it's aromatic and perhaps a shade darker than it was when you added it to the pan, just a couple of minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.
5. Divide the Brussels sprouts among four bowls (or serve it all out of one big bowl), top with the dressing, and toss once or twice to coat. Sprinkle the fried cilantro and puffed rice over all, and serve.

Fish sauce vinaigrette

1⁄2 cup fish sauce
1⁄4 cup water
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
Juice of 1 lime
1⁄4 cup sugar
1 garlic clove, minced
1 to 3 red bird's-eye chiles, thinly sliced, seeds intact

Combine the fish sauce, water, vinegar, lime juice, sugar, garlic, and chiles in a jar. This vinaigrette will keep for up to a week in the refrigerator.

Crack Pie

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup light brown sugar
3 tablespoons sugar
1 large egg
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup oats
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

Bake on a quarter sheet pan at 350F for 15 min. Cool to touch. Crumble and blend together with items below in food processor.

2-1/4 cups oat cookie crust
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt

Divide evenly amongst 2 x 10" pie platters. Prepare filling.

3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 tablespoons milk powder
1 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 egg yolks (from large eggs)

Measure all dry ingredients in bowl. Whisk to incorporate all and break up any light brown sugar lumps.
Whisk in melted butter.
Whisk in heavy cream/vanilla mixture.
Whisk in yolks, being careful not to incorporate too much air.

Divide evenly over 2 pies.

Bake 325°F 15 min, turn down the heat to 315°F and bake for an additional 5 minutes.
Cool on rack and refrigerate. Serve COLD!

How Low Can You Go?" Results:

Buttermilk Salad
apple juice $1.49
kombu $.89
soy sauce $1.68
buttermilk $1.99
gelatin $1.79
chives $.99
pine nuts $1.99
total $10.82

Chicken & Brussels Sprouts
chicken legs $4.30
bacon $1.99
radish $.79
scallions $.66
ginger $.80
cilantro $.59
mint $.99
brussels sprouts $2.99
puffed rice $1.29
fish sauce $.99
lime $.39
garlic $.39
chilies $.54
total $16.71

Crack Pie
butter $1.99
oats $1.49
cookie crust $.99
milk powder $.72
heavy cream $1.19
eggs $.99
total $7.37

Grand total: $34.90

Leader board:

1. Robert Carter $32.24
Peninsula Grill

2. Paul Liebrandt $32.35

3. George Mendes $32.49

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