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March 15, 2012

Mandu is Love

by Michael Langlois

Have I mentioned lately that my wife is awesome?  Sure, she’s hot and she puts up with me, which is in itself some kind of miracle, but more incredibly she understands my complex needs.  Like, my need to cram delicious food into my face all the time.

Growing up in a Cajun/Korean household, there are a lot of dishes that I would consider comfort food.  But this is one of the more difficult to pull off.  Let me explain.

The crispy, golden, and delicious triangles up there are mandu, a traditional Korean dumpling.  The filling is a mix of beef or pork, veggies, and spices, and is fairly time consuming to make on its own.  Add to that the effort of individually wrapping each one (nearly 40 were made), and you can see how much of a labor of love that platter really is.  The glass with the spoon in it contains a dipping sauce made of soy sauce, white vinegar, sesame oil, sesame seeds, and flaked red pepper.  This is only substance known to man that can actually improve the taste of mandu, which is the kind of thing that used to get you burned as a witch.

In the beige bowl in the back is about a pound and a half of bulgogi, which is shaved rib-eye steak, steeped in a delightful marinade, and seared quickly in a wicked-hot pan.  It’s a little sweet, a little tangy, and tender as new love.

One of the best ways to eat it is to take a lettuce leaf, add some rice and gochujang (spicy fermented pepper paste), and then layer on the bulgogi.  The combo of cool, crisp lettuce and hot rice and meat is incredible.  It starts light and fresh, and ends with a savory, spicy, meaty bite.  There’s nothing like it.

Taken all together, the production of the meal you see above was a lengthy, complicated affair, which my wife decided to tackle by herself as a present for me, just because she thought it would make my day.

And it totally did.  Of course, I’d count myself lucky just to be able to eat ham sandwiches with her in front of the tv, but this?  This was amazing.

But not even close to as amazing as she is.

Read more from Blog Posts, Food

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