Momofuku Saäm Bar is one my favorite restaurants in New York City. Despite loud and obnoxious music, no reservations and always crowded conditions, it remains a must for any gourmand who treasures culinary imagination. Momofuku Saäm is the brain-child of the talented yet irreverent chef, David Chang.
Dining at Momofuku is like attending Hamilton: The Musical for the first time – you don’t know quite what to expect. I am always surprised and delighted at Chang’s inventiveness and never leave his restaurant without a smile on my face.
As regular patrons are aware, David’s specialty is pork. One early evening several years ago, we were sampling a plate of thin ham slices when David Chang appeared from the kitchen and asked us to sample a new cured ham that he had discovered. I distinctly recall that it was a Meacham ham from Kentucky, that we found delicious.
We have since ordered several Meacham hams from their online store, but there are many other wonderful sources for ham like Edwards Virginia Smokehouse that is now back in operation after a fire burnt down their facility in January.
I could talk about cured pork and cured meats for hours, but close friends will often say OINK, OINK if I go on too long. In this age of commercialization, most cured meats, hams and bacon simply don’t taste nearly as good as meats that have been cured the old-fashion way.
Let’s face it, hogs raised in pens and force-fed with with grain by-products produce large but rather tasteless hams and bacon. Many are filled with nitrates and other artificial preservatives and coloring agents.
No wonder the bacon and pre-packaged ham cuts for sandwiches you purchase at the grocery don’t take like Mama’s. At best, they are simply fillers and – at worst – these processed meats may lead to obesity and other health complications.
We don’t eat as much ham or bacon anymore other than bacon for flavoring certain dishes. Nevertheless, we use imported San Daniele Prosciutto – cut very thinly – with our melons.
While Jamón Serrano is wonderful as an appetizer when thinly sliced off the hock, it is rarely used in cooking. As an alternative, we love Surryano ham from Edward’s Smokehouse which is currently unavailable for sale at this time.
So, if you are looking for food that “tastes like Mama’s,” do make the point of using authentic cured pork produced by artisans. Factory-processed cured meats simply lack authenticity.
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