While Mission Chinese Food has left New York — the onetime downtown Manhattan hot spot closed in 2020, followed by its Bushwick location this summer — chef Danny Bowien is still bringing his culinary approach to a wider market: the at-home cook.
The chef has released a second cookbook, with a new mission: “wildly delicious food for everyone.” Bowien notes that half of the menu at his restaurants was “quietly vegan” — plant-based without making a big deal of it. All of the recipes in “Mission Vegan” are vegan and riff on Korean-American dishes. Sections include various renderings of kimchi, noodles and dumplings, rice, and stews. Bowien describes the recipes in the book as more “straightforward” than those in his previous cookbook, and in many cases — he offers the mapo tofu, for instance — tastier.
“Anyone can cook from this book, skilled or not, vegan or not,” writes the chef in his introduction. “Because what’s the point of having a party if your friends can’t all go?”
Below, Bowien’s recipe for pineapple kimchi, excerpted from the cookbook.
MAKES ABOUT 2 QUARTS
Like most kids, I was into pineapple growing up, forking it from those little fruit cups with the foil lids and the neon red cherry inside, but I had never eaten the fresh fruit until one Thanksgiving when my uncle Bud brought a couple over. For some reason, even though my dad cut them up and set them out, no one had any. Except me. I ate both. I savored every bite — and I was sick for days after.
Despite that, I’m crazy about pineapple now. So when the kitchen at Mission was messing around with kimchi a while back, I thought, Why not? I’m deﬁnitely not the ﬁrst person to ferment the fruit. After all, there’s the Mexican drink tepache. There’s pineapple vinegar in the Philippines. And there’s the highbrow restaurant I worked at years ago where we fermented it to serve with oysters. Turns out, kimchi is another great way to explore pineapple’s savory side, bumping up its acidity and balancing its remaining sweetness with salt and heat.
It’s especially delicious in fried rice.
Note: The weights here are important.
1½ pounds peeled, cored, and cubed (1-inch) ripe pineapple28 grams (3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon) Diamond Crystal kosher salt 17 ounces coarsely grated white onion 11 ounces coarsely grated Korean radish or daikon 5 tablespoons gochugaru (Korean chili flakes)
Put the pineapple in a large mixing bowl, sprinkle on the salt, and toss well. Let stand until the pineapple starts to give up some liquid, about 10 minutes. Add the onion, radish, and gochugaru and stir well.Transfer to a clean 2-quart glass jar. Use a spoon to push down on the mixture, so the liquid rises to submerge or nearly submerge the pineapple. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it against the surface of the mixture, then add a small weight. Cover tightly with a lid and let it ferment at room temperature until it sours slightly, 2 to 4 days, burping the container after 3 days.
After it’s fermented to your liking, store it in the fridge for up to 6 weeks.
From Mission Vegan: Wildly Delicious Food for Everyone by Danny Bowien and JJ Goode. Copyright 2022 by Danny Bowien. Excerpted by permission of Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.