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