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A Jackie/Six production

Thursday, January 01, 2004 |
The traditional New Year's Feast features a variety of dishes, of which I'm sure I don't know exist. However, the one I do know is Mandoo Duk Gook, or Dumpling Soup with Sliced Ricecake. It's a very simple meal, served with a wide variety of everyday small side dishes and possibly a little rice on the side. Some Kalbi (Soy Sauce and sugar marinated beef short ribs) is usually also present, but only because Kalbi is always featured on special occasion days.
Gene's Duk Mandoo Gook
You start with a beef soup base (I use one part beef stock, 2 parts water ... but I normally use chicken stock since the beef stock is too powerful, this is my mother's variation on the traditional). Boil, and add slices of dried ricecake. You can buy this at the store, called Duk. It's a rice paste that's rolled into cylinders, sliced diagonally, then dried a little. Think of it like really thick slices of pasta. Stir, and when it comes to a boil again, add Mondoo (dumplings ... more on this later). Stir again, usually about 5 minutes, then add pepper, sesame seed oil, and scallions, a dash of each. Salt to taste, and serve.
The hard part, of course, is making the dumplings. The dumpling filling consists of diced pork, zucchini, and onions; mixed in with sesame seed oil, a pair of eggs, and some garlic. The chopping is tedious, but not that hard, and not that time consuming. The dumpling skins, thankfully, are small and round and purchased. So no problems here. Making the dumplings involves sitting down with the skins, the bowl of filling, s dish of water, and a tray. Then, one by one, you have to spoon out the filling, wet the edge of the skin, and close it into nice stuffed half moons. Too much filling, and you have a mess. Too little filling, and you have a pathetic dumpling. Too much water, or too wet filling, and your dumpling is dripping everywhere. 1lb. of pork, 2 zucchini, and 3 onions makes approximately enough filling for 50 dumplings. It takes approximately 1 minute to make a dumpling if you don't have 10+ years of experience. It took me 2 hours, including a break in the middle to dump 45 dumplings into boiling water, and then placing them in containers to freeze, to make the dumplings. I started at 8pm and finally finished washing all the dishes and pots at 2am. So why, oh why, do I do it. The answer is twofold. First: We were supposed to have a family gathering today at my Aunt's place. So, with all that family up there, I thought I should bring some food, because I'm always taking, and I want to be a giver. However, at the last minute, it was canceled, which is fine except that all the ingredients were purchased and defrosted, so I had to make the dumplings no matter what. I've got more dumplings then I know what to do with. Secondly: A long time ago my mom told me that I had better enjoy her home cooking while I could. Because girls today are just too modern, and something as old fashioned as cooking wasn't going to be a top priority in today's world. The only way I'd ever relive the food of my youth is if I learned how to do it myself. Now, I can't comment on the state of women and cooking, mainly because I still don't have a girlfriend; but I can say that I did learn as much cooking as I could, and I'm a little proud of just what I can do. And my dumplings happen to taste just like Mom's. Yummy.

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