When the Princess awoke the next morning, the first light of dawn was creeping into the cave, illuminating the backs of the rebels standing guard nearby. She stretched, her neck stiff from lying on hard rock.
“Good morning Princess,” said the young man who had spoken to her the previous evening. “Today we will take you on a tour of a nearby village. It is festival day there. I thought perhaps you would like to see what daily life is like for your subjects. Please wear this simple peasant hanbok. You will fit in better that way.”
“I suppose I have no choice,” she said, taking the garment.
A few minutes later, they rode out on horses, traveling down a steep mountain path towards a hamlet below. As they wended through the village, the Princess was struck by the disrepair of the hanoks, as well as the hunchbacked beggars and street children underfoot. They approached the main square, where villagers had gathered to watch a group of men perform the traditional farmer’s dance. The performers beat drums and waved their ribboned hats in time with the music as the spectators clapped and cheered the human pinwheels spinning around the circle.
“Have you ever seen the farmer’s dance, Princess?” asked the young man.
“No. They don’t perform it in the palace.”
“A shame. It’s a beautiful dance.”
The mayor of the small village raised his hands and smiled at the Princess and the young man. “I would like to thank our performers, and to invite our new guests to share the harvest meal. Perhaps they would even like to join in with some of the preparations.”
“Come,” said the young man, leading her into the big communal hall, where villagers sat making dumplings and other dishes for the festival. He sat down and began to fill mandoo skins.
“But…that’s woman’s work…” said the Princess.
“And yet here are my fingers, doing it,” said the young man. “Yours will too, I believe.”
The Princess looked around her. The women around her were gaunt, their clothes threadbare. It was evident they rarely had meals like today’s.
“I don’t think we should be eating their food,” she whispered to the young man.
“This one meal you’ll eat is not the problem. The problem is that officials under your father tax the villagers out of their harvest, and seize food stores for their own personal gain. That is the reason why the villagers suffer – not because of their generosity to guests.”
The Princess stared at her hands – white and smooth, like the rice cakes she ate every day with tea – and the hands of the young man and the woman next to him, brown, cracked, rough with labor. Silently she began to roll out dumplings.
With everyone in the village helping, the meal was ready quickly. They sat down to tables laden with wild mountain greens and pickled ferns, bubbling stews filled with pig bits and bone broth, scallion pancakes, and of course, large wooden bowls heaped with fried mandoo.
The simple food was delicious. The villagers smiled with quiet pride as they watched the guests eat.
“Tomorrow we go to a fishing village,” said the young man.
The Princess didn’t argue. She was beginning to have a sense of how sheltered her life was. The rebel leader was right: she didn’t know her own people.
They thanked the villagers, left some gifts, and continued westward.
Click below for other episodes in the Princess & Rebel series!
- The Princess & the Rebel Part 1: Pajeon in the Cave
- The Princess & the Rebel Part 3: Mandooguk in the Woods
- The Princess & the Rebel Part 4: Kalbi Tang in the Mountains
- The Princess & the Rebel Part 5: Deep Fried Beef Tendon in the South
- The Princess & the Rebel Part 6: Kimchi on the Coast
- ¾ c tapioca flour or arrowroot starch
- ¾ c tigernut flour
- 1 tb olive oil
- 1 tsp sea salt
- ½ c hot/boiled water
Filling (can basically improvise this with anything on hand - omit meat for veggie/vegan)
- 2 tb olive oil or coconut oil
- 1 minced onion
- 2 bunches scallion, minced
- 1 grated carrot
- 4 cloves minced garlic
- 1 tsp minced ginger
- 1 pound ground meat (beef, pork, chicken, turkey, etc. - I used a combo of chicken livers + AIP sausage for mine, but that's cuz I'm weird)
- ⅓ head cabbage, chopped small
- 2 tsp coconut aminos
- 2 tsp sea salt
- juice from ½ lemon or 1 tb apple cider vinegar
- Cook filling ingredients together in saute pan in order listed until flavors mix and everything is cooked through.
- Mix dough ingredients in order listed until knead-able ball of dough forms (dough should be pliable, but not sticky).
- Roll dough into even log form (~3-4 cm in diameter) and cut into 1 cm-thick rounds.
- Flatten rounds into circular dumpling wrapper shapes manually or with rolling pin. Alternatively, you can roll out the whole ball of dough to 1-2mm thickness and cut dumpling shapes out with a circular cookie cutter.
- Fill skins with filling and seal.
- Cook dumplings in 1-2 tb coconut oil in saute pan on medium-high heat until browned on both sides. You can add a bit of water after initial browning to make potstickers, or just fry in oil (both work).
- Dip in coconut aminos with scallions and enjoy!