This dish is actually two separate recipes from Momofuku: Pork Shoulder Steak and Fried Cauliflower with Fish Sauce Vinaigrette. They seemed to go together in my head, which lead to their being served as a single meal. Neither recipe is technically difficult, but they both have more subroutines than a WordPress installation, so I had to think a bit about the timing required to bring everything together in time to serve.
I began by assembling the pork components: a single 5/8-inch thick shoulder steak; four scallions; one each of a small zucchini, yellow squash, and red onion; a jar of pickled pearl onions; and a bottle of Kewpie mayonnaise (a popular Japanese brand).
Ramp Ranch Dressing
This dressing is served with the steak, and needed to be made first. It should be made with pickled ramps, but they are already out of season, and I didn’t have any pickled. I used the suggested substitute: a quarter cup each of finely chopped pearl onions and scallions. I mixed a cup of the mayonnaise, a quarter cup of buttermilk, the scallions and onions, and the juice of half a lemon together in a bowl. After correcting the seasoning with salt and pepper, I put the bowl in the fridge.
Fish Sauce Vinaigrette
To make the vinaigrette, I measured out the juice of one lime, a half cup of fish sauce, a quarter cup of sugar, a minced garlic clove, a thinly sliced Thai bird chile, two tablespoons of rice wine vinegar, and a quarter cup of water.
I tossed everything into a lidded container, gave it a vigorous shake, and let it sit at room temperature until needed.
And yet another collection of ingredients: one head of cauliflower broken into florets (about four cups), two tablespoons of thinly sliced cilantro stems, a half cup of cilantro leaves, a half cup of puffed rice, and a half teaspoon of shichimi togarashi (Japanese seven-spice powder). I omitted three tablespoons of chopped mint since I didn’t have any (and failed to notice it in the recipe).
I tossed the puffed rice with the togarashi and a half teaspoon of canola oil, then toasted the mixture in a hot skillet until it darkened slightly.
I filled a wide skillet with an inch and a half of canola oil over medium heat, and brought it up to 375° F. I fried the cauliflower in two batches, removing each when the florets started to develop brown spots, about five minutes.
When the cauliflower was done, I fried the cilantro leaves until crisp, about thirty seconds.
Pork Shoulder Steak
Here’s where the timing came in. When I started heating the oil for the cauliflower, I also put a grill pan on high heat to get it “scorching, hellfire hot.” I aggressively salted the steak, then pressed it into the pan when I started the first batch of cauliflower, cooking for about four minutes on the first side, and three minutes after flipping it over.
I let the steak rest for five minutes while I finished the other frying.
I sliced the steak into half-inch thick strips, smeared a large spoonful of the ranch dressing on the plate, and fanned the steak over the dressing I topped the meat with the raw vegetable garnish. I tossed the cauliflower and cilantro stems with the fish sauce vinaigrette, plated the mix, and topped it with the puffed rice and cilantro leaves.
I’m not a person who adulterates good meat with sauces very often, but the pork/dressing combination is a winner. The richness and tang of the ranch dressing was cut by the acid and heat of the cauliflower. Much to our surprise, He Who Will Not Be Ignored ate all of his vegetables without complaint, swabbing them in the dressing before wolfing them down. I don’t know how often I’ll make this particular dish again, but I expect to have a steady supply of vinaigrette and ranch dressing in my fridge from now on.