MANDU is the Korean word for dumpling. And they are one of the most delicious things I have ever tasted. Ever.
I went to South Korea thinking I liked spicy food. Yeah right! A couple bites of anything red over there would put my whole GI track in over drive, would keep my system cleaned out for weeks, and burn my tongue for dayssss. Apparently every child grows up eating super super spicy food so that their tolerance for spicy food is off the charts by the time adulthood rolls around. I am not exaggerating. I quickly learned to avoid anything that was red, aka coated in the spiciest spicy red chili pepper sauce in the world. Ok, I may be exaggerating, but just a little.
Dumplings however were zero spicy.
My time in South Korea, for an exchange program during college, was a simply amazing once in a lifetime experience. I was able to meet some beautiful people (inside & out) whom I miss dearly, learn about an ancient fascinating culture, see the landscape of a most beautiful country, and try some really good food (that wasn’t red). My favorites were pumpkin soup, doughnuts filled with sweet bean paste, bulgogi, pajeon,and of course my #1 favorite was mandu-Korean dumplings! Whenever I had the chance to eat dumplings, I was all over it. So of course, when I came home, I wanted to reproduce and share that amazing tasting food with my family. I searched high and low for a good Mandu recipe, but none were exactly what I was looking for. Combining ideas from several recipes and remembering some specific ingredients from the little dumplings I loved, I made the Mandu of my dreams.
I’ve always held this belief when it comes to cooking; if I love the ingredients, then I will almost definitely love the results. So it follows that I am in love with these dumplings.
The first time I made dumplings, I used equal parts ground pork, ground beef, and tofu for the base and that was oh-so-delicious, but this time I wanted wanted to make a vegetable dumpling. It is partly because I want to be healthier, partly because my husband doesn’t like pork, and mostly because I despise touching raw ground meat. The nurse-germaphobe in me does not want to touch anything gross without some nice latex gloves on. I will touch any and absolutely anything with gloves on, but I am fresh out of those on the home front.
I also consulted my dear friend Seo Yeon for some extra Mandu making tips to make the perfect Korean Dumplings.
These dumplings were pretty easy to make, but take a good bit of time to individually fold each dumpling. The dumpling skin packs in the store come with 60 so that does indeed make for quite a bit of folding, but the good news is they can be frozen for later and are just as delicious!
Just mix up all the prepared ingredients and start folding. Put a heaping teaspoon in the center of the skin then rub some water with a finger along the two top edges. Then, fold in half and press the edges together. When sealed, turn the dumpling upright and wrinkle the edges towards the center, making them look wavy.
After making the dumplings, you can boil, steam, pan sear, or add them to soup. They are versatile and make a quick easy meal when frozen. To freeze, just put dumplings on a floured pan in the freezer, making sure each dumpling is not touching another. Once completely frozen, an hour or two, throw them all in a freezer bag and removed desired amount when ready to eat. Just add a couple minutes to cooking time, about 3-5 minutes for all methods.
The dipping sauce is almost as important as the dumplings. Just mix equal parts water, soy sauce, and rice vinegar then sprinkle top with sesame seeds and ginger.
I doubled this recipe and mixed the other half of the filling in chicken stock and water to make an Asian soup to go with the dumplings for dinner.
- ¾ cup shredded carrots
- 1 pack mushrooms, 8 oz
- ½ cup cooked chopped vermicelli rice
- ½ cup finely chopped cabbage
- ½ cup green onions/chives
- ½ tbsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp sesame seeds
- 2 tsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 3 oz tofu
- 1 pack dumpling skins (about 60)
- Microwave tofu 1 minute and squeeze out liquid in paper towels. Add tofu to bowl and mash with fork.
- Add garlic, ginger, soy sauce, sesame seeds, sesame oil, finely chopped cabbage, shredded carrots, cooked & finely chopped vermicelli rice, diced mushrooms, and finely diced green onions and then mix well.
- Place heaping teaspoon full of mixture in center of dumpling skin and rub wet finger over two adjacent sides a couple times. Fold dry edges over on top of wet edges and pinch closed. For looks, press the two opposite corners ups towards the center, which makes the edges look wavy.
- Boil desired amount of finished dumplings for 2 minutes and serve with dipping sauce (sauce recipe in notes).
- For extra dumplings, place on floured pan (not touching each other) in freezer for 1-2 hours. Once frozen completely, transfer to freezer bag. Good for 4 months.