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Mandu: Korean vegetable dumpling

Mandu: Korean Vegetable Dumplings

Mandu: Korean vegetable dumpling

MANDU is the Korean word for dumpling. And they are one of the most delicious things I have ever tasted. Ever.

Ever.

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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.

P1040107 P1040168 P1040218 P1040269 P1040271 P1040284 P1040293 P1040297 P1040305 P1040376 P1040385P1040326My 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.

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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!

IMG_2347IMG_2349IMG_2350Just mix up all the prepared ingredientsIMG_2355 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.IMG_2358
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.

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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.

Mandu: Korean Vegetable Dumplings
Author: 
Cuisine: Korean
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 10
 
Korean Vegetable Dumplings. Makes 60 dumplings
Ingredients
  • 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)
Instructions
  1. Microwave tofu 1 minute and squeeze out liquid in paper towels. Add tofu to bowl and mash with fork.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Boil desired amount of finished dumplings for 2 minutes and serve with dipping sauce (sauce recipe in notes).
  5. 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.
Notes
The dip: mix equal parts water, soy sauce, and rice vinegar then sprinkle top with sesame seeds and ginger.

 

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Gnocchi Verde

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Gnocchi Verde translation: green dumplings.  These Italian dumplings are made green by copious amounts of spinach and made delicious by cheeses and spices.

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Italian food has always been my favorite.  I went over to Italy one summer a little shy of a decade ago for a short exchange program to learn about art and culture, but my favorite part ended up being the food, of course. That is where I first tasted creamy gelato (everyday), fluffy pillows of traditional gnocchi, and truffle pizza.  Between the rich sauces, pasta, olive oil, and cheeses, they got it right!

So when my dear friend IMG_2310Carla-Bean gave me a adorable little Italian cook book published in the 1960’s soon after my return from Italy, I was thrilled.  I have been meaning to make this Gnocchi Verde recipe from this cook book, ‘Recipes: The Cooking of Italy,’ for the longest time, and now I am wondering why I didn’t do it sooner?!  Making these little spinach dumplings was a fun little adventure. I made a few changes, and they turned out ridiculously delicious.  Mhhhmmm.

IMG_2241You just cook down some spinach, mix in cheese, spices, flour, and  egg, then let the mix chill in the refrigerator for an hour. Then, pop small scoops in boiling in water for a few minutes. Then put the drained dumplings in a buttered casserole dish, sprinkle with moreIMG_2242 cheese and broil long enough for the cheese to start to brown.  I served the gnocchi verde over some pasta with Italian-spice enriched spaghetti sauce and sauteed portabello mushrooms.  I also served wine with the dish, because it would not be fully Italian with out some sweet wine. My husband said he felt like he had gone to a fancy Italian restaurant. Score!

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Gnocchi Verde
Recipe type: Italian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Spinach Cheese Dumplings
Ingredients
  • 9 oz chopped fresh spinach
  • 4 tbsp butter (divided)
  • ⅓ cup ricotta cheese
  • 4 tbsp Parmesan cheese (divided)
  • 4 tbsp all purpose flour
  • ⅛ tsp pepper
  • ⅛ tsp garlic powder
  • ⅛ tsp nutmeg
  • 2 egg whites
Instructions
  1. Melt half of the butter (2 tbsp) in pan over medium heat.
  2. Add chopped fresh spinach then saute until almost all of the moisture has evaporated and the spinach begins to stick to the pan.
  3. Add ricotta cheese and cook for 3-4 more minutes.
  4. Transfer cooked spinach and ricotta cheese to a bowl and mix in flour, egg whites, nutmeg, garlic, pepper, and half of Parmesan cheese (2 tbsp).
  5. Let mixture chill in fridge for about an hour, if the mixture is not fairly firm, mix in 1-2 more tbsp flour.
  6. Boil water and drop in rounded spoonfuls, about 1 heaping tablespoon. Do not overcrowd the pot so you will have to do a couple batches. Expect some loose spinach to come free of the dumplings in the boiling water, but the main dumplings will be intact. Let them boil 5 minutes then remove with slotted spoon and place on plates with paper towels.
  7. Turn oven on to broil and pour 1 tbsp melted butter in casserole dish. Place dumplings in dish and pour remaining melted butter (1tbsp) on top of dumplings. Then sprinkle remaining Parmesan cheese (2 tbsp) on top.
  8. Put casserole dish in oven and broil for 3-5 minutes, or until cheese starts to brown. Watch closely.
  9. Serve immediately over pasta with spaghetti sauce.

 

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