Edible: Midtown Restaurant Melds French Techniques With Korean Flavors
Updated: Updated 11/04/2011 12:01 AM
By: Rachel Wharton
A Midtown restaurant is working to advance Korean cuisine. Rachel Wharton of Edible Manhattan magazine traveled to Danji and filed the following report.
“Basically I realized Korean food hasn't really changed much in New York much in the past 30 years,” says Hooni Kim, the chef/owner of Danji. “It's exactly the same as when I was a baby, when I was a kid growing up eating Korean food. So I wanted to take it to one other level.”
At Danji, Kim takes the French techniques he mastered working with Manhattan chef Daniel Boulud and applies them to the decor, the wine list and the food.
“This dish is called Kalbi chim. And it's traditional Korean braised short ribs. The technique will be all French, but the flavors and ingredients are going to be traditionally Korean,” says Kim. “What's going inside is dried kelp, mirin, sake, sugar, soy sauce, dried shiitake mushrooms, dried jujubes or dates, then garlic and ginger.”
Unlike most Koreans, Kim sears his meat before he slow cooks it in stock, to add a layer of flavor and prevent the meat from getting mushy.
“So up until now everything is French. So here comes the Asian part. Instead of wine, we glaze with sake, and a little bit of mirin,” he says.
Kim also skips a French-y beef stocks for one made of seaweed.
“This is a dashi. It is dried kelp, dried shiitakes and dried anchovies. And this is what we use for almost everything that requires water,” says Kim.
If that stock his Korean, however, the method is still very French.
“Nowhere in any of the Korean textbooks do they tell you to braise for two and a half hours,” says Kim. “And I only learned that at Daniel, you know, where Daniel wrote a whole book on braising meats.”
The end result is silky and tender, deeply flavored and fragrant. Maybe even good enough to convince Kim's mom it was a good idea to drop out of medical school.
“I had to drop out to pursue my passion,” he says. “And she did not speak to me for one yea – until I got a job at Daniel, which is one of her favorite restaurants. So she finally realized this kid may have had more talent than she thought.”
For more on Danji and other food news, go to EdibleManhattan.com.
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