Momofuku Nishi first opened in January 2016 to less than stellar reviews. After taking some time to redesign the space and retool the menu, it reemerged in October 2017 like a phoenix from the ashes with a new look and a more focused culinary philosophy. This time around, the cooking is dialed in on Italian fare—though in true Momofuku form, nothing is ever 100% authentic. "I like to think of it as what Italian food could be if it's more open to other influences," says chef de cuisine Nick Tamburo, who previously cooked at Noodle Bar and then Ko.
A prime example of that ethos is the sticky fried pork chop sandwich, available only on weekdays as part of the new lunch menu. Instead of topped with marinara sauce and melted mozzarella, Tamburo's version is brushed with a cherry pepper glaze and topped with shredded iceberg (his favorite sandwich lettuce thanks to the crunch). But before any of that can occur, the pork first spends 24 hours in a buttermilk-kimchi marinade to infuse the meat with flavor. This marinade started as an experiment during family meal, but has now made its way to the mouths of diners.
Sticky Fried Pork Chop SandwichRecipe courtesy of chef de cuisine Nick Tamburo, Momofuku Nishi, New York City
Buttermilk-Kimchi Marinade (recipe below)
One 8-ounce pork loin chop, pounded thinly
1 cup panko bread crumbs
Oil, for frying
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon sansho pepper
Salt, to taste
Cherry Pepper Glaze (recipe below)
1 tablespoon finely chopped pickled cherry peppers, preferably B&G brand
2 sliced Japanese white bread
Garlic Mayonnaise (recipe below)
Finely shredded iceberg lettuce, for serving
1. In a large bowl, marinate the pork chop for 24 hours. Bread the pork chop in panko. [At the restaurant, the breaded pork chops are usually frozen at this stage and fried straight from the freezer. Tamburo says it helps the breading to adhere to the meat better.]
2. Heat the oil to 350˚F and fry the pork chop until golden brown and fully cooked, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer the pork chop to a wire rack to drain of excess oil. Sprinkle both sides with the dried oregano, sansho pepper, and some salt.
3. Brush both sides of the pork chop with the cherry pepper glaze. Cover in the pickled cherry peppers.
4. Toast the bread and spread some garlic mayonnaise on each slice. Add the pork chop and top with some lettuce.
Buttermilk-Kimchi Marinade:1 quart buttermilk
200 grams kimchi
30 grams fish sauce
Combine all of the ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Reserve.
Cherry Pepper Glaze:490 grams glucose
400 grams water
300 grams white distilled vinegar
300 grams sugar
100 grams cherry pepper pickling liquid, preferably B&G brand
52 grams kochukaru (Korean chili powder)
16 grams salt
10 grams chili flakes
Add all of the ingredients to a saucepan and simmer until reduced by half. Reserve.
Garlic Mayonnaise:6 egg yolks
45 grams confit garlic
1 clove raw garlic
Juice of 2 lemons, divided
850 grams grapeseed oil
Salt, to taste
Add the egg yolks, both types of garlic and some of the lemon juice to the food processor. Blend, streaming in the grapeseed oil, until emulsified. Season with salt and the remaining lemon juice as needed. Reserve in the refrigerator for later use.
Photos courtesy of Momofuku.
Learn more about Momofuku Nishi and see how the sandwich is made below.