The Princess awoke the next morning wondering if her activities of the night before had in fact been just a dream. She found herself glancing over to where she had lifted the floorboards, but in the daylight everything looked normal. She drank her tea and ate her morning rice cakes, resisting the urge to run over to the kitchen storage rooms and peek into the large kimchi pot to see if her bundles were still there.
When midday came, the servants helped her into a ceremonial hanbok and she exited her quarters, joining the procession of ministers in their red robes into the main banquet hall, her anxiety growing with every step. What if it didn’t work? What if she had failed in her part of the mission? It would mean nothing less than disaster for all of them.
The Princess filed into her seat, next to the King. She had sought an audience with him a few days ago, making deep bows of contrition for her folly in suggesting clemency for the rebels. He had accepted her proffering, convinced by her fervid earnestness, and she had regained her spot next to his side.
Next to the King sat the Northern Emperor. This would be their last banquet in the Emperor’s honor before his departure to the isles on the morrow. The Prime Minister had set the date for the rebels’ execution directly after, waiting until after the hosting festivities so as not to mar the occasion with spilled blood.
The banquet began with ceremonial introductions – tea was exchanged, and then piles and piles of the rarest palatial dishes were brought out and laid before the guests – sky-high mounds of cakes and dumplings, pancakes, circular round patties made from expensive, highly prized cattle. It all smelled delicious, and everyone began to eat, filling their plates and washing down dumplings and patties with zesty soju.
“You are not hungry, daughter?” asked the King.
“Indeed, I am,” said the Princess, reaching for a patty and popping it into her mouth. The King smiled and did the same.
Around twenty minutes into the meal, the diners fell oddly silent – even the sounds of their eating slowed. Spoons began to clatter to the ground, fallen from weak fingers. Snores replaced the sound of chomping, and before anyone knew what was happening, several heads lay face down in a pile of dumplings. The King and Prime Minister glanced at each other and moved to stand but had no energy for it. Within a few more seconds they had passed out as well.
The Princess looked around – everyone was either asleep or nodding off at their places. She discarded the silk napkin, full of the food she had pretended to eat, in a bin, and ran to the center of the palace where the giant bronze bell stood. She rang it vigorously, causing guards and soldiers to race out of every corner of the palace to the main banquet hall. The Princess ran to the prison, now deserted, holding the duplicate of the keys the rebel leader had given her the previous day. The young man was near the edge of his cell, on his feet waiting for her. She opened his cell, and together the rebel quickly opened the others using his skills as a locksmith to unhinge the wide wooden doors. They flew from there to the kitchen storage room, where the Princess handed out bundles of supplies to everyone before moving the kimchi pot to reveal a large hole, the beginning of another secret tunnel leading outside the palace.
“Good,” said the rebel leader. “You have played your part seamlessly. Now we flee.” And with that they disappeared into the tunnel, pulling the pot over it and leaving the palace behind them.
- 1 pound ground grassfed beef
- 2 cups chopped cabbage
- 6 cloves of garlic, minced
- ½ large onion, minced
- 6 shiitake mushrooms, minced (optional)
- 1 tb ginger, minced
- 2 tsps sea salt
- 2 tb coconut aminos (optional, if using reduce sea salt to 1 tsp)
- 1 tb olive oil or avocado oil
- ½ c tapioca flour or arrowroot starch
- more olive/avocado oil for frying
- Precook cabbage, garlic, onion, mushrooms, and ginger in a stovetop pan in 1 tb oil until cabbage and other ingredients have softened. Let cool, then add to ground beef. Mix well with a fork. Add sea salt/aminos and another 1 tb of oil.
- Form patties with your hands (~2 tb of filling) and dip both sides in the tapioca/arrowroot starch to coat.
- Fry in oiled non-stick/cast iron pan at medium heat on stovetop, ~ 4-5 minutes per side until cooked through (but not overdone). Eat with lettuce or napa cabbage wraps or on their own! (A paleo but non-AIP version can also be dipped in egg before cooking...also delicious!)