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.
(Click photos to enlarge.)
Let’s start with Mom.
Mandu are Korean dumplings, frequently made with square wonton or round gow gee wrappers. They are filled with chicken, tofu and kimchi, but you can swap out the meat or remove it altogether to make it vegetarian.
The bitter ginger dipping sauce represents the son, whose memories of his mother are tinged by regret and some level of anger. His lack of appreciation when Mom was around, his failure to fulfill her dreams for him, and his continued stress relating to her disappearance lend to his bitterness at the current situation.
Dad took a long time to realize he loved Mom. Throughout their 50-year marriage, he was at times unfaithful and unfeeling, and he never missed her. He never even slowed down to walk alongside her. Upon returning to his empty house and not finding Mom their, either, Dad realizes what he has lost. His slow acknowledgement of his fondness for his wife is sweet, albeit reluctant, and represented by this pear and sesame dipping sauce.
Finally, the daughter, a famous novelist who never has time for Mom is represented by the spicy garlic dipping sauce. Combative, unyielding, and heated in her anger, the daughter’s relationship with her mother is strained to say the least. But when Mom goes missing, it is the daughter’s passion that drives her to search for her with an unparalleled fervor.
Though I love all these dipping sauces, it’s probably best to choose one to make at a time. There is something nice about having a choice of flavors, though, so if you want all three, you can make smaller quantities by just keeping the proportions the same.
Now that you’re good and hungry, read our recommendation of the book that inspired this recipe: Please Look After Mom.