Sunday, May 3, 2015

Reheating Chronicles: Griddled Dumplings

Cooking is the least developed art. Composers moan that all the great themes have been used. Despairing painters concocted postmodernism in order to legitimize recycling. The forms of dance, fiction, and feature film have seen enough permutations that we've largely given up hoping to have our minds blown. They're all tired. But cuisine-as-artform, having explored only a few rococo avenues and a few streamlined ones, has barely hit adolescence.

The obscure culinary sub-genre which most interests me (having spent much of my life coping with refrigerated chowhounding detritus in the form of takeout containers) is reheating. And that's in its infancy. It's wide open.

Consider dumplings. We steam them or we pan fry them. Period. But what about heating frozen dumplings, greaselessly (which is to say: very carefully), on a cast iron griddle?

Grease, I'm starting to understand, is nearly always a gratuitous shortcut. Lousy things taste better when they're cooked in grease. So don't cook lousy things! And things burn much more easily when griddled sans grease. So griddle more carefully! If you want to cook healthily, just swap in care and love for grease and salt.

These frozen Korean spicy mandoo from H Mart were delicious, though I had to watch them like a hawk, flip them like spies, and ride the temperature settings like a metallurgist.

My pan (I used this one, which is also great for tortillas) was well-seasoned, pre-heated, and mostly left at more or less medium-heat. And I hardly took my eyes off them.


GOI Farm said...

Was in the market for a new pan and this one is already seasoned! Thanks.

Unknown said...

Koreans tend to add a bit of water and cover the pan. The steam tends to help defrost the insides. Hey Jim! Long time. Michael Yu (

Jim Leff said...

Hey, it's Michael Yu, Chowhound's (official!) Korean military advisor!!!

Yeah, I know the traditional way. My theory was that by going low-and-slow, I could avoid burning while also ensuring thorough defrosting. I liked-not-loved the result, but I'll keep working on it!

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