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.
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 – 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.
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.
One of those moments that’s like dèjá vu all over again, but with a twist: West African umbrella vendors shoot the shit in Times Square while the steam, as Tom Waits says, makes it look like the whole goddamn town’s gonna blow.
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.