I love miso ramen. I ate a lot of it in the Sapporo region, where it was invented, when I was living in Japan. In many places, they’d finish it with a huge knob of butter and some canned corn as a garnish—totally ghetto, totally delicious. Daydreaming about that miso ramen got me to thinking about making a miso compound butter, which I’d never seen anywhere else. Butter plus miso worked wonderfully on those bowls of soup, so I mixed up a batch, adding more and more miso as I went. The end result was nutty and creamy, and it just tasted good—so good I licked it off my fingers, like cake frosting.
Quino was messing around with the miso butter one day and found that when he mixed it with an egg it tasted like carbonara—the fermented, salty tang of miso standing in for the pig. One day, I was trying to make a beurre monté based on sherry vinegar and the miso butter instead of water and plain butter. I mixed it with an egg and realized it tasted like hollandaise sauce—not so literally, but in a similar appealing fat-on-fat sort of way. We saw it had potential, and we put this dish together, to look like an asparagus-and-fried-egg dish you’d see at any rustico Italian market-driven restaurant in New York, but with the idea that nothing really prepared you for the flavor combination you get from that not-quite-hollandaise.
Notes: If you have reason to make a larger quantity of miso butter—and there are many, because miso butter has a weeks-long shelf life and makes just about anything more delicious—mix together larger quantities of butter and miso in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
From Momofuku, by David Chang and Peter Meehan, Clarkson Potter, 2009.