When I first moved to New York one of my law school classmates told me about Momofuku Noodle Bar. By the time I got home that evening I couldn't remember what it was called so I told Alex on the phone that there was a restaurant named "Wabonka" that we needed to try. That's right. Wabonka. Alex still makes fun of me to this day about the mix up. And I (probably) deserve it because I was way off. It happens from time to time. During my first few trips to the Momofukus, this was the dish that stood out the most in my mind. I tried several dishes - but this was by far my favorite. I have been there several times since then and added several more dishes to my list of favorites but this is the only dish that I regularly try to recreate (although not in all of its glory) at home. This is the first time I have ever made the apple kimchi with bacon and it's certainly the first time I have made the maple labne. Maybe the full recipe at home reminded me again just how much I love the Momofuku restaurants. Where else would someone combine a Midde Eastern yogurt, maple syrup, bacon, apples and kimchi? But somehow it works. Actually, Alex and I made another Asian-inspired dish using maple syrup several months ago - Fatty 'Cue Brussels Sprouts. It was pretty freaking good, and this dish is too. You get a very complex assortment of flavors - spicy kimchi, sweet apples and maple syrup, tart labne, meaty salty bacon and peppery arugula. It just works. I don't know how but it does. All of the flavors are assertive and bold, yet the dish was very nice balance.
Recipe after the jump!
Fuji (Honeycrisp) Apple Salad with Kimchi, Bacon, Maple Labne
By David Chang and Peter Meehan
2 honeycrisp apples
1/4 cup store-bought kimchi, pureed
1/4 cup labne, or more to taste
2 tbsp maple syrup, or more to taste
4 oz thick-cut smoky bacon
1 cup arugula, loosely packed
2 tbsp evoo
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Cut the apples into wedges or very large cubes. Toss the apples in the kimchi puree. You can do this just before making the salad or up to 6 hours in advance—any longer, though, and the apples will be sublimated by the kimchi.
Combine the labne and maple syrup in a small bowl and whisk together until they're married in a smooth and homogeneous mixture. It should be assertively sweet from the syrup and perceptibly tart from the labne. Adjust if necessary, but don't play down the sweetness too much.
Heat the oven to 350F. Arrange the bacon on a cooling rack over a rimmed baking sheet and pop it into the oven. Bake for 18 minutes, or until it is browned and crispy. Transfer the meat to a plate lined with paper towels to drain. It needn't be any more than lukewarm when you serve the salad, but it shouldn't be cold or greasy.
Just before serving, toss the arugula with the olive oil, a large pinch of salt, and a few turns of black pepper.
To serve, plop a dollop — 1 to 2 tablespoons — of the sweetened labne in the middle of each plate and top with one-quarter of the kimchi apples. Stack 3 or 4 pieces of bacon over the apples and drop a handful of the dressed arugula over the bacon. Hit each plate with a couple turns of black pepper, and serve at once.