Inspired Recipe: Chicken Mandu Dumplings and a Trio of Dipping Sauces

What is a mother if not the heart and soul of a family? She is a nourisher, a provider, a caretaker, a comforter. Her family turns to her for love and support. In Please Look After Mom, the titular character is a source of comfort, an anchor for her family, strong on the outside but full of love. As the point of view changes with each passing chapter, so does the way we see Mom. She changes, you see, in the context of her daughter, her son, and her husband. That’s why I put together this dish—with the soft, plump mandu dumpling representing Mom, and each of the dipping sauces representing her daughter, son and husband.

Get the recipes at PAPER/PLATES.


Book Recommendation: Please Look After Mom by Kyung-Sook Shin

Sometime during my childhood, I learned that Heaven was under the feet of my mother. I was probably sitting in Sunday School, resenting that I was there instead of sleeping in, wishing to be anywhere else. What did it mean, that Heaven was beneath her feet? Was it a mobile place? Did I have to lift her to get in? For a long time, my mother was just my mother. She wasn’t the key to Heaven. And so it was in Please Look After Mom as well.

There are two questions swirling at the center of Please Look After Mom, a heartbreaking look at a family’s unraveling after its older, ailing matriarch goes missing at a subway station in Seoul. The first comes fast; it hits you hard, in the gut, and makes you think that if it were you, if it were your mom who had gotten lost, you would do whatever it took to find her. In fact, you would never lose your mother in the first place. You are so caring, so diligent a child that the prospect of not knowing your mom’s whereabouts is actually impossible. But is that true? If your mom got lost, would you pace the streets of your city, day in and day out, like you expect the characters here to do? Would you place ads in the paper and flyers on telephone poles? Would you revisit the subway station over and over? Well, would you? After a while, probably not. You have a life, a job, a family of your own. But you wonder, if this happened, would you do more than they did to find their lost mom?

Read the rest at PAPER/PLATES.

Eat Your Words: Satire and Bake

Satire (noun): the use of sarcasm, scorn, or irony to ridicule human folly or vice.

Example: In Drown, Junot Diaz includes a short story entitled “How to Date a Brown Girl (Black Girl, White Girl, or Halfie).” The essay originally appeared inThe New Yorker in 2005, and presented a set of dating instructions for a Dominican teenager living in New Jersey. Here’s an excerpt:

Wait until your brother, your sisters, and your mother leave the apartment. You’ve already told them that you were feeling too sick to go to Union City to visit that tia who likes to squeeze your nuts. And even though your moms knew you weren’t sick you stuck to your story until finally she said, Go ahead and stay, malcriado. Clear the government cheese from the refrigerator. If the girlOs from the Terrace, stack the boxes in the crisper. If she’s from the Park or Society Hill, then hide the cheese in the cabinet above the oven, where she’ll never see it. Leave a reminder under your pillow to get out the cheese before morning or your moms will kick your ass. Take down embarrassing photos. Since your toilet can’t flush toilet paper, put the bucket with all the crapped-on toilet paper under the sink. Shower, comb, dress. Sit on the couch and watch TV.

As a bonus, you can hear the author himself reading the story. Go here for the video.

Bake (verb): to cook food, covered or otherwise, using dry heat directly from an oven.

Example: In her pear and gouda pastelitos recipe, Kate Bernot bakes fruit-and-cheese-stuffed phyllo dough packets (below). Fifteen minutes at 400°F is enough to transform the raw ingredients into a warm pouch of flaky pastry with a gooey center that, when served warm, is perfect for breakfast, lunch or dessert.


Eat Your Words: Sibilance and Poach

Sibilance (noun): in writing, the effect created when sibilant sounds—the hissing noises created by “s,” “z,” “sh,” and even a soft “c”—are repeated.

Example: 50 Shades of Grey characters Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey have decently sibilant names themselves, but to give you a better idea of what we’re talking about, here’s a safe for work excerpt from the bestselling novel.

“I couldn’t agree more, Miss Steele,” he replies, his voice soft, and for some inexplicable reason I find myself blushing.

Apart from the paintings, the rest of the office is cold, clean, and clinical. I wonder if it reflects the personality of the Adonis who sinks gracefully into one of the white leather chairs opposite me. I shake my head, disturbed at the direction of my thoughts, and retrieve Kate’s questions from my backpack. Next, I set up the digital recorder and am all fingers and thumbs, dropping it twice on the coffee table in front of me. Mr. Grey says nothing, waiting patiently—I hope—as I become increasingly embarrassed and flustered. When I pluck up the courage to look at him, he’s watching me, one hand relaxed in his lap and the other cupping his chin and trailing his long index finger across his lips. I think he’s trying to suppress a smile.

Poach (verb): to cook a food item—frequently eggs or fruit—in a liquid such as water, milk, or broth kept just below the boiling point.

Example: In her sensuous sundae inspired by 50 Shades of Grey, Katie Halpern poaches pears in a sweet and sumptuous concoction comprised of raspberries, orange juice and cranberry juice (above). Slow-cooking the fruit in this thick sauce results in soft flesh, completely infused with flavor, which melts in your mouth.


Eat Your Words: Authorial Intrusion and Chiffonade

Devouring books and crafting meals is great–but sounding smart while you do it is even better. That’s why we’re teaching you to eat your words. In this new weekly guide, we introduce one literary device (PAPER) and one culinary term (PLATES) everyone should know.

Authorial intrusion (noun): a literary device whereby the author speaks directly to the reader, establishing a connection between him or her and the audience and making him- or herself a subject of attention.

Example: It could be said that Jon Ronson’s confessions in The Psychopath Test are a type of authorial intrusion, but this device is more frequently used in novels than non-fiction. A more typical example is that of Kurt Vonnegut, who was famous for injecting his perspective into his stories. Here’s an example from Slaughterhouse Five that demonstrates exactly this:

An American near Billy wailed that he had excreted everything but his brains. Moments later he said, ‘There they go, there they go.’ He meant his brains.

That was I. That was me. That was the author of this book.

Chiffonade (noun): the result of tightly rolling herbs or leafy vegetables and then slicing them into fine ribbons.

Example: In her mango pomegranate “murder” salsa recipe, Angie Jaime shreds her cilantro into a chiffonade before finely dicing and tossing the leaves into her mixing bowl (pictured above). The cilantro pieces turn out tiny, allowing them to impart flavor without leaving the eater with greens between his or her teeth.