This weekend, I went to the market at Pico and picked up two bunches of garlic chives, tomatillos, a Brandywine tomato, and some green beans. Shopping at the farmers market when you have a life versus when you have nothing to do but explore the farmers market are two entirely different experiences. Wow. Time is valuable, but being present is the ultimate luxury.
Step 1 in being present: Making mandu (mahn-doo), or Korean dumplings. I'm not sure what makes these Korean. These were based on the dumplings I used to make with my mom, so in that sense, I suppose they're Korean because they are...made by Koreans? I don't know. Unlike my mom's mandu, mine contained no meat. In hindsight, maybe they should have. Garlic chives and tofu version are good, but I applied a heavy dose of soy sauce after boiling them.
I love fresh, boiled dumplings-their soft skin, plump filling. My mom has a habit of plucking up the tray, after we've made two or three rows of dumplings, and taking it to the stove, where she would topple several into a pot of boiling water. Patience doesn't run in our family. I would have preferred to wait because I like seeing the results of my labor. But watching my mom extract so much visible pleasure from eating a fresh dumpling made me want to have that same feeling, and I believed that doing what she did was the way to attain it. Why we like what we like, that's a complex question.
I always feel a little sad when I eat fresh mandu. You put so much time into making each half moon but eat them in mere seconds. They're not beautiful in the way a three-layered cake with frosting might be. They're basic, and that word that describes something of the gut, a mix of pleasure and necessity. I would make them again and again. From making the filling to pinching the ends of the wrappers to dipping a dumpling in sauce, the entire ritual is entirely worth it.
I've never used tomatillos before. I imagined them as being complicated. There was the papery husk, but I didn't know how many. What did they look like inside? Were they shriveled and dried? They're not! Just remove the papery exterior and wash.
Papery skin. "Papery" is my new crutch word.
After you broil tomatillos for about 5-7 minutes, they bubble and seem to melt. I dumped them into the food processor with leftover cilantro, some diced jalapeno, onion, garlic, salt, and lime juice.
The resulting salsa verde was damn good. Fresh and bright, nothing like the bland, slightly sweet goop you get in a jar.
I've eaten heirloom tomatoes before, but I didn't love them until today. I paid $5.00 for this Brandywine, and for once, I said, "This was worth every penny." The trick was figuring out to make it taste great. Some people love eating heirloom tomatoes plain, but for me, it took some salt to bring out the rich tomato flavor.
Look at that color! That's not Photoshop.
An amazing breakfast. A baguette from Surfas, Brandywine tomato sprinkled with salt and feta, raw red onion. I dipped the bread in some grassy olive oil, also from Surfas. Never underestimate the power of good olive oil.