Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Yet Nal House: Takeout Dumplings Make A Great Meal, Blow Away The Bags From The Frozen Aisle

Scrumptious convenience.  Yet Nal House's meat or kimchi dumplings.
Now you can have your convenience and eat it too.

Yet Nal House is a Korean restaurant on Rte 40 in Ellicott City that has captivated my imagination with casual stews, soups and other dishes.  Our tipster Min just told me about the newest dish that I have to try -- beef and octopus hot pot to warm away the winter chill.  She said it was sweet from the bulgogi meat, but so spicy that her husband to take some deep breaths from time to time.

Bulgogi & octopus hot pot
I recognize that octopus hot pot may be adventurous, but Yel Nal offers a perfect convenience food for almost anyone -- house-made meat or kimchi dumplings sold in plastic bags from the white freezer right inside the door.

These are Korean mandoo.  Way better than even the good frozen dumplings that I have enjoyed from Lotte, H Mart or similar stores.  Buy them at the cash register in the back -- after you also check out the takeout soups and rice cakes in the refrigerators.

Yet Nal's freezer
A tipster turned me onto the mandoo, saying that they're made in Yel Nal House.  They certainly have a thinner, more delicate wrapper than the ones that I make, and they have a cleaner, fresher taste than the supermarket bags.  They're an easy staple because you want them to stay frozen.  Grab dumplings from your freezer for an instant meal.

For $10, you get a bag with 20 dumplings.  It's not cheap, but it's a steal where you can turn that bag into a meal for four to five.  Those dumplings can be steamed, boiled or pan-fried.  Then served up with kimchi or any number of vegetable side dishes.

I have tried all kinds of cucumber, eggplant and other vegetable side dishes out of my beloved cookbook Growing Up In A Korean Kitchen.  You can borrow that from the Howard County library.  With kimchi and another vegetable, we have been satisfied with four Yet Nal dumplings each.  I think they could anchor all kinds of meals if you play around.

Bagged dumplings
The dumplings are absolutely convenience food.  You can steam them for six to eight minutes in any steamer and end up with a perfect snack or dinner.

My recent discovery has been pan frying.  You heat a thick sheen of vegetable oil in a pan and add frozen dumplings.  Right from the freezer, this is real convenience.  Let them sputter over a medium heat without moving until the bottoms turn golden brown.  

Then pour a half-inch of water into the pan and cover.  Usually I lower the heat.  I let them steam for maybe six minutes.  Then I uncover and turn the heat higher.  I evaporate the water until the dumplings start to sputter and crisp again.  You get a cooked-through dumpling that is crisp on the bottom and soft on the top.

Serve with a dipping sauce.  I mix equal parts soy sauce and rice vinegar, then add about a half part of sesame oil.  Maybe a dash of hot sauce.  Maybe some sliced green onions.


@GwynethJones - The Daring Librarian said...

Nom nom dumplings! I hate to admit it, but I also really like the frozen shrimp & chicken cilantro pot stickers at Trader Joe's - I also like to use Asian Mae Ploy Sweet Chilli sauce http://flic.kr/p/jp8Qje to be found at Weiss or Asian grocery stores!

@GwynethJones - The Daring Librarian said...

I thought I *had* left my name!

- I see it right there and my avatar, too! How singular.

I like the Trader Joe's pot stickers because they are plump, filled with quality fillings and you can easily microwave them between two wet paper towels for 3 minutes, toss them in sesame oil, sprinkle a few sesame seeds and voila! A quick Pan saute is better for a little colour but not required.

~Gwyneth Jones - The Daring Librarian (.com)

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