Hana yori dango. -Japanese proverb-
Dumplings before flowers.
Hana yori dango: Place the practical over the aesthetic. Prose before poetry. Science before art. Food before flowers. The irony is that dumplings are aesthetic. So is prose and science and food. Practicality is aesthetic. Dumplings are designed to give us satisfaction, to fill us, to make us happy, and food that is packaged in delightfully compact, delicate chunks, what’s not to deem marvelous?
Enough of my pseudo-philosophizing. I credit this incomplex, bring-to-lunch (notice a theme with my first few recipes) recipe to Korean celebrity chef tycoon Baek Jong-Won. Reclined on my sofa during my after-college slump, I saw him on television and he was coating egg wash and some ambiguous flour-like porridge over some dumplings, and voila, he made amped-up snack food. Watching him prepare this dish gave me the idea--the permission--to coat premade, store-bought dumplings.
Isn’t that what cooking is about? Bumping into a microdiscovery, a tweak to a recipe that you’re allowing yourself to invent adventurously? This is beauty. This is cooking: transforming what you already know. This is a perfect back-pocket meal when you need something filling but speedy. A snack to nosh on a Sunday afternoon, perhaps. Pan-fried, pre-made dumplings by themselves are fantastic, but once in awhile when you find yourself slumped against your kitchen counter realizing you need a little egg and excitement in your life, here’s something you can do. By no means there is nothing of exquisite elegance here. I’m trying to keep things easy here. Hana yori dango.
When we cook things, we transform them. And any small acts of transformation are among the most human things we do. Whether it’s nudging dried leaves around a patch of cement, or salting a tomato, we feel, when we exert tiny bits of our human preference in the universe, more alive.
RECIPE // snack dumplings with green onion + Egg
prep time: 6-8 minutes // cook time: 5-7 minutes // serves: 1-2
- frozen pork, chicken, or veggie dumplings/potstickers - around 7-8
- beaten eggs - 2 eggs (experiment with only egg whites if you’d like)
- soy sauce - a dash
- sesame oil – 1 Tbsp.
- green onion - finely minced
- oil for frying
- pepper -finely minced (bell is fine, but the long green Korean serrano-style chili peppers are great)
- optional: finely chopped shiitake mushroom or carrot, ground black pepper
- thaw your dumplings
- heat oil in frying pan (take advantage of your cast-iron skillet if you own one), medium high heat
- beat the eggs in a bowl large enough for your dumplings to roll around
- add the soy sauce and sesame oil to the eggs
- incorporate the green onions and pepper
- toss the dumplings in the bowl of the beaten eggs (it’s what you do for Korean fish pancakes, where you dredge your ingredients with beaten eggs and a little flour)
- then, use a fork to transfer the coated dumplings to the pan
- fry each side until dumpling is fully cooked (it’s okay if the egg turns out golden brown)
- cut the dumplings with kitchen shears in small bite-size pieces if preferred
- enjoy immediately with some vinegar-based, spicy sauce