The dish: Middleneck-clam toast
The place: Momofuku CCDC (1090 I St., NW)
The reason: Buttery clams without the mess
What?! No more pork buns and ramen for dinner at Momofuku CCDC? That’s right. Restaurateur David Chang gave the eatery’s new chef, Tae Strain, permission to “destroy” the menu. One of our favorite additions to emerge from the shakeup is this spoon-and-knife dish that’s more stew than toast. Here’s how he came up with it.
Strain, a Maryland native, spent summers as a kid living off shellfish in his mom’s hometown of Providence, Rhode Island. He knew he wanted to add a clam dish to his menu, but he didn’t want the trouble of messy shells. Grilled sourdough was the perfect pairing for Virginia mollusks steamed in lemongrass, dill, and white wine.
Minimalist menu descriptions are a “very Dave thing,” Strain says, but the dish is more complex than it sounds on paper. Clams and pork sausage combine with fennel sofrito enriched with smoked butter, lemon, and spinach. The dill mayo incorporates smoked egg yolks and hot sauce—both made in-house. The whole thing is topped with bread crumbs, cured yolk, and dill, then finished with toasted-fennel-seed oil and chili oil.
The dish takes inspiration from clam pizza (Strain’s favorite). “Secretly for me, Italian food is number one,” he says. “When you eat this dish, it actually tastes a lot more Italian than it does Asian.”
This article appeared in the June 2018 issue of Washingtonian.