Friday, August 12, 2011


In 1968, when my sister-in-law Carol (whose real name is Kap Hui) came to live with us while Neil was in Viet Nam, we were exposed to Korean cuisine for the first time and my Mother and I became quite fond of Carol's dishes. We had never really cooked rice other than "Minute Rice" but we soon learned how to cook "real rice". It was difficult to obtain some of the ingredients Carol needed for dishes and Carol became quite good at improvising. One day, I opened the cellar door and was engulfed by a terrible smell; I soon learned she was raising bean sprouts and mushrooms in the cellar! My mother was "picking a mess of greens" and Carol went with her and was fascinated that we could use the weeds. Carol took a large trash bag and gathered mustard and cleaned it and put it in the freezer. After that we had many dishes with mustard greens in them. Mother planted several Korean vegetables in the garden after that. Who knew that sweet potato VINES were good for eating? When Carol made Kimchee and buried the crock in the ground, Mother told her that her grandmother used to do the same thing with kraut. Carol said that it was amazing that we had things in common. I told her that people of all ethnic groups learned to use what was available, just like Mexicans using cactus.

When Gerald, Mother and I would go to Korean Restaurants in Columbus and Dayton, we were usually the only Caucasians in the restaurant and when I would order IN KOREAN, the waitress would invariable ask HOW I knew the Korean names for the dishes and she would have the owners, chef and everyone else come to meet us! My favorite dishes are Bibim Bap and Chap Chae Bap; I try something different every time but Gerald always gets the "safe" Bulgogi!

After Neil returned from the service, we were able to go to Lee's Market in Columbus to get appropriate ingredients. One day I took one of Carol's creations with me to work for lunch and a woman asked, "What is THAT?" I answered, "Yaki Mandu." She cast a critical eye toward my "smelly" food and said, "It looks and smells like Man's Hockey Doo to me!" When I went home I told Carol the story and Mother said, "That's what we should call it--Haki Du--that sounds Oriental." To this day, whenever we have an Asian dish, I call it "Haki Du".

Vegetable oil, for frying

For the filling:
1/2 pound firm tofu, broken up
6 ounces ground beef 1/2 cup (7 ounces) bean sprouts, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup diced carrot, (about 1 small)
1 scallion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil 1 teaspoon hot sauce
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons salt
40 round dumpling (potsticker/gyoza) wrappers
Dipping Sauce, recipe follows

Set up a fryer, or heat 2-inches oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan, fitted with a high-heat thermometer, to 360 degrees F.

To make the filling: Use cheesecloth to squeeze water out of tofu by tightly wringing and squeezing with your hands, or place tofu in a colander lined with 2 damp paper towels and press down with a heavy bowl or pot on top to squeeze moisture out. Pour tofu into a mixing bowl, add remaining filling ingredients and use hands to mix well. Fill a small bowl with water. Place 1 to 2 teaspoons of filling in the center of a dumpling wrapper. Wet the outer edge and fold to make a half-circle. Pinch dough together to seal, pushing air out as you work. Repeat process until the remaining dumplings are all assembled. In batches, deep-fry dumplings until golden, about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels. Transfer dumplings to a serving platter or bowl and serve with the dipping sauce.

Dipping Sauce:
1/4 cup soy sauce 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted
2 teaspoons unseasoned rice vinegar
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 comment:

Mona Lisa said...

Notice how we don't say "oriental" any more?