1.067 Mandu Jeon-Gol

-Cycle 1, Item 67-
13 (Sat) March 2010

Mandu Jeon-Gol


at Pyeonggaok (평가옥)

-Bundang, GyeongGi-

Mandu (만두) is a Korean meat dumpling.  Though common and popular throughout the country, it's generally regarded as a dish from the north, closer to China, where the form originated.  Typically, as per northern style, the dumplings tend to be very simple, containing just pork and tofu and bean sprouts and salt and pepper, making them whitish in appearance both inside and out, light and delicate in flavor; of course, the simplicity requires the ingredients to be fresh and the basic seasonings to be spot on.  By contrast, dumplings made in a more southern style may also contain onion, scallion, ginger, garlic, maybe soy sauce or chili powder or even kimchi for additional flavoring.  Either way, mandu is widely available and immensely popular throughout the country.  The mandu can be steamed or pan-fried or boiled or served in a broth, as here.  I'm curious what mandu in North Korea today are like.

Because I grew up with mandu that were very very white--both parents and all grandparents were born in what is now North Korea--this is the style that I prefer.

The jeon-gol (전골) is the 4th category of Korean soup dishes to be discussed in this blog.  Unlike the other categories--tang (see generally 1.013 Daegu Maeun Tang), jjiigaeguk (see generally 1.027 Kimchi Jjigae and Pan-Fried Hairtail)--which are served in finished form, a jeon-gol contains an array of uncooked ingredients in a stock that's served in a wide, shallow pan set on a table-top heating source, family style, allowing diners to eat the ingredients one piece at a time as they become gradually ready.  As such, it's more of a hotpot than a basic soup or stew.  Mandu, given its self-contained form, makes for a convenient jeon-gol, the fanciest way of serving mandu.  When they're not in a hurry, Koreans like jeon-gol because it provides a leisurely communal dining experience, often involving booze.

This restaurant specializes in North Korean dishes, most of them very good.

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