Don’t Mind if Mandu

I’ve been on a delightful Korean cooking binge for over a year now, thanks to internet culinary ambassador Maangchi, whose YouTube contributions have taught me quite a bit about the basics.

I wholeheartedly agree with Anthony Bourdain on the premise that fine cooking is not about exotic pricey ingredients and exquisite preparation and presentation, but more about using the cheaper and less desirable ingredients you have at hand and creating something truly soul satisfying. The best food often comes from cultures of hardship and having to make do: Peasant food.

A lot of Korean staples have this peasant pedigree.

A particular favorite of mine are mandu: Korean dumplings. Having made my own at home with good results I recently tried a restaurant version for the first time at Mandoo Bar on 32nd Street in Koreatown.

Mandu ladies!

Professional mandu ladies!

When I walked past and saw women expertly crafting mandu I couldn’t resist popping in for a sample. I didn’t regret it:

Goon Mandu - lightly fried

Goon Mandu – pork and vegetable dumplings, lightly fried.

Like Japanese gyoza or Chinese jiaozi, mandu can be either boiled or fried. These fried pork mandu were delicious: crunchy and delicately chewy with a tangy, spicy dipping sauce. Cruets of hot sauce, soy sauce and vinegar on each table allow you to mix the dipping sauce to your taste.

Peasant soul food at its finest.

In Praise of the Simple Roast Chicken Sandwich

Winner, winner: chicken dinner

I’ve always preferred cold leftover turkey sandwiches to the classic American Thanksgiving dinner. I found myself turkeyless today.

So I roasted a chicken. Simple, but flat out magical. There is absolutely no excuse for anyone to not feel completely comfortable roasting a chicken.

Thomas Keller (head chef of The French Laundry and Per Se and arguably the best cook on the planet) has a great take on the basic roast chicken in the brief video below from Anthony Bourdain’s brilliant No Reservations series. I’ve done this recipe over a dozen times and now swear by it.

He cooks the bird a little hotter than most at 425°–450° so cooking times are around 15 minutes per pound rather than the usual 20 minute/lb rule of thumb for a 350° oven.

I strongly recommend whipping up some homemade mayonnaise for your sammiches. Martha Stewart has a good basic recipe. It takes all of five minutes and is far superior to store-bought. Cleanup is a snap if you use a hand blender.

Bon appétit!

Speaking American

Maxwell Smart shoe phone

“Would you believe…”

Google Voice Search Trick

Speaking foreign words and phrases in Google voice search usually returns amusing if unhelpful results. I found the trick is to pronounce the words like Mike Bloomberg speaks Spanish.

Works like a charm. Try “tapenade.”

Twitbot of the Week


@BuzzFeedAndrew apparently temporarily replaced his account with the @YourInAmerica grammar bot.

Word of the Day

Pilkunnussija: Finnish for pedant. Literal translation: comma fucker.

Japanese Human Beatbox Under Union Square

The übergeek in me has always enjoyed human beatboxes: The passion. The striving to emulate percussion and melody simultaneousy with incredibly difficult circular breathing. The disgusting atomized spittle in pursuit of sonic perfection. The rejection shame when one asks to borrow a mike at a gig.

Kinda like being a Highland Bagpiper.

One might assume the best beatboxers started out as poor kids who took it up to play the beats they heard in their heads because their Moms couldn’t afford lessons and a kit. Or a Roland. Or so they wouldn’t get their asses beat so regularly on The Corner. Like impromptu comedians in jail.

Reo Matsumoto is the best I’ve ever heard. Lack of access to technology was likely not an issue for a kid coming up in Yokahama, but he’s clearly taken the form to supreme technical and artistic levels.

My brief video doesn’t do him justice. He’s got a lot more game than it represents. Watch in 1080p if you dare.

A quick bit of research showed beatboxing is hugely popular in Japan. There are a number of home favorite virtuosos, particularly Daichi san, otaku par excellence, who has tens of millions of views on YouTube.

Not for nothin, but I think my Union Square guy is a bit farther west on the autism spectrum. More of a rastah impostah. And more likley to get laid.

I love his stuff. Reo blows away most of the strong conventional musical competition at Union Square, even though he has no MTA sanction (official cop repellant banner, etc.) Throw him some love if you see him.

“Zotz Irene?”

Devastating economic impact from Irene? Bullshit.

WalMarts sell out. Supermarkets sell out. Bodegas sell out. Liquor stores get New Year’s business. Consumption of paid video, plywood, duct tape, flashlights, batteries, sardines, bottled water, crackers and generators, etc? Friggin astronomical.

Lotta bluffin; not much puffin.

We don’t manufacture shit anymore on the Eastern Seabord except hype. We’re a service economy. Period.

Lost business? Bullshit. Most “mission critical” corporate drones have worked remotely, as appropriate, for years–Especially in hypercapitalist, Blackberry-heavy New York state.

No lost orders. Financial markets opened for business Monday. Most folks just worked from home, as they usually do in similar weather circumstance. And legions of cops, firefighters and EMS folks got major overtime pay for cruising empty streets in the surprisingly gentle but persistent rain Sunday. Ka-ching.

Any established business worth its hype has videoconference capability, or their technically capable folks use Skype. No need for air travel except for introductory face-to-face meetings at senior old fart levels, which are inevitably just postponed–not canceled.

Our Dear Wise Father, Bloomberg, advised that NYC public sector folks will be charged a vacation day if they didn’t come into work on Monday. And this edict delivered with extremely fucking dodgy transit service. He basically asked people to walk from the outer boroughs. Kim Jong Il got nothin’ on DWF Bloomy.

North Korean cabinet members have paintings of themselves as centaurs hanging in the secret Kimchi Klubhouse.

Sure, lots of homes got damaged. But lines at Home Depot will be longer than the Trans-Siberian Railway next weekend. As Gawker advises, just make sure you get there before the lesbians grab all the 2x4s.

Those veins are a junky's dream.

"Line forms at the rear, pallly."

Financial news folks repeatedly wailed about the devastating economic impact for retailers of “losing” the traditional last shopping weekend for parents whose children will be starting school.

Bullshit. Folks will just buy the school gear later this week; the bucks just may not hit the books for August financial close. A lot of parents and kids buy online, well in advance.

The damage to infrastructure was expected, but a 100-year flood is just what state DOTs needed to light a fire under their asses to fix what were already known to be substandard roads and bridges, and perhaps seek innovative financing measures (e.g., appropriately tweaked public-private partnership “PPP” concessions) to finally do now what can no longer be postponed. There is no public funding left to repair and create the long-neglected infrastructure essential to the US economy.

Spain has nice bridges. Trains and roads too.


We need to use the European/Australian/Canadian PPP model to do infrastructure. It works! The US can actually can actually learn from other countries.

The loss of life was unfortunate, but with few and ironic exceptions, most people who died likely got Darwined.

Irene was a nice kick in the ass for the East Coast economy, encouraging vital spending when the government has been proscribed (by obdurate and self-serving populist dullards)  from pulling additional tools from the essential Keynesian economic stimulus trick bag during a serious recession.

The hurricane season is young. Let’s hope for similar overhyped East Coast meteorological bullshit.

Dave “Soup” Campbell dead at 50 in NYC

I’d known him for the past 30 years, since college days at the godforsaken but well respected university in Hyde Park, South Chicago where fun, reportedly, still goes to die. I knew him as a classmate, a roommate, a friend, and above all, a superb musician who played with transforming joy and otherworldly passion and precision for many lucky bands.

I miss the hell out of him and always will. Fucking drummer. So many amazing moments.

Gorgeous Old Dodge Sedan

Found this completely original and unrestored 1949 Dodge Meadowbrook treasure while wandering the far East Village. Love the flat pane glass Windshield o’ Death. Hope the owner doesn’t leave it on the street overnight.

An oddly charming bulgemobile whose original owner clearly cherished it. GI Joe would have liberated a car like this to bang somebody’s sister AWOL.

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Testing out the Android WordPress app on my Droid phone here. Let’s see if it works.