The Princess and her escort picked their way to the coast on horseback, flanked by two packs of rebel guards traveling a few hundred meters ahead and behind them. A kingdom-wide alert for the Princess had traversed the countryside, and the King’s soldiers were out in droves, stalking the main thoroughfares and questioning villagers in the surrounding provinces. The rebels kept to the forests, off the roads, disguised as a troop of traveling entertainers. They would issue a series of birdlike whistles whenever their lookouts spotted anyone in their path, alerting the rebel leader who would nimbly hoist the Princess up into the trees. There they would perch, sometimes for an hour or more, observing the winter landscape until it was safe to descend.
The Princess could have shouted for help on these occasions, but she never did. Although she wouldn’t admit it, sometime in between her first pajeon and the dumplings at the village Harvest festival, the Princess had begun to enjoy herself. She was in no hurry to return to the palace, to her maids and what now felt like an endless enclosure of tiled walls and gates from which no escape was possible. The King had plans to marry her off to the Prime Minister, twenty years her senior, as soon as she returned, cementing their families’ alliance and the stability of the kingdom. The longer she spent away from the palace, the more she dreaded the prospect.
No, she was quite content on the road, breathing in the sharp wintry air, snow falling on her fur-lined rebel cap from pine trees above, the young man sitting straight and tall as he rode next to her. She had had a good many hours to observe his countenance up in the forest canopy. He couldn’t have had more than 25 winters, and yet underneath his beard he possessed a reserve and a weathered, cynical aspect that defied her understanding. Perhaps a broken romance, she mused to herself, as they stopped to water the horses in a small clearing by a forest stream. She watched the rebel leader build a fire and place an iron pot over it. Some minutes later, he ladled steaming soup into a bowl and held it out to her.
“For you, Princess.”
She accepted the bowl, her frozen fingers thawing as the heat emanated through her gloves.
“Careful, it’s hot,” said the rebel, as she sipped the scalding broth.
He set out a couple plates of banchan from the clay kimchi pots they carried with them. “I’m sorry I can’t offer more than this. We will have a proper meal once we reach Busan.”
The Princess just shook her head. She was ravenous after their long morning on the road, and the rich soup and crunchy sides satisfied her more than the extravagant palace banquets of her youth.
“You’re not eating,” she observed.
The young man took a bite of kimchi with his chopsticks and winked at her.
“The soup, I mean.”
He put his chopsticks down. “My mother used to make this dish. It is hard for me to eat it now.”
“Why?” asked the Princess, hesitating slightly.
The young man stared broodingly at the fire and did not answer. When he saw that she had finished, he began packing up the leftovers.
“Come,” he said. “The days are short. We must reach the mountain path to Busan before nightfall.”
The Princess sighed, her curiosity, unlike her stomach, unsatisfied. She remounted her horse and followed the young man into the western woods.
Click the links below for other episodes in the Princess & Rebel series!
- The Princess & the Rebel Part 1: Pajeon in the Cave
- The Princess & the Rebel Part 2: Mandoo at the Village
- 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
- 5 cups of stock (grassfed beef, chicken, pork, or veggie)
- 5 cups of water
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 tb minced ginger
- 1 onion
- 1 tb coconut aminos
- 8-11 mandoo dumplings
- 1 tsp sea salt
- Some kind of sliced meat (typically beef/skirt steak, I used AIP pork sausage and shredded leftover rotisserie chicken)
- 2 sheets roasted seaweed, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 2 green onions/scallions
- ½ cup sliced purple cabbage (optional)
- 1 fried egg, sliced in strips (optional, non-AIP)
- Boil stock and water with ginger, garlic, and onion for about 10 minutes.
- Add meat and salt + aminos, cook for another 5 minutes.
- Add seaweed, scallions, cabbage, egg, and dumplings. If the dumplings are fresh, only need to cook for a couple minutes (if frozen, cook for 5 mins or so - don't overcook or they may fall apart).
- Serve with kimchi and seasoned seaweed banchan (side dishes ;)!
This recipe features in Phoenix Helix’s Paleo AIP Recipe Roundtable.