When you think of dumplings, what comes to mind? For me, it’s the nostalgia of Dim Sum. Sitting around a large round table, the clang of chopsticks on porcelain bowls, with all my family members speaking loudly, telling stories, and laughing - while we waited for carts, pushed by little Chinese women, announcing fresh Har Gow and Siu Mai.
2020 (and the ongoing pandemic) has forever changed how we share meals with friends and family. Meals are quieter now, without the sometimes ear-shattering cacophony of conversation of a large extended family. Growing up, those sounds sometimes embarrassed me; now it’s all I long for.
During the pandemic, I craved the comfort of dumplings or anything that reminded me of being with my family in British Columbia. I ordered UberEats, Skip the Dishes and did curbside pick-up; However, that soon became too expensive, and the dumplings rarely arrived fresh enough for my taste. I’m all for supporting local restaurants, and I do weekly, yet dumplings was the one dish no one could get right.
With little options left, I did what any homesick girl would do. I set out to make my own.
Dumplings go by many different names and are found in countries and cultures worldwide, and they are all delicious. These little dough balls and filling have a long history (which I won’t get into, but you can read about it here) and I’ve eaten my share of dumplings from many countries. Regardless of how many dumplings from around the world I consume, my top five will always be from Asia.
The next few recipes will focus on my five favourite dumplings - The Dumpling Series. The five recipes will focus on three countries from North-East Asia and 1 country from South East-Asia.
China - Wontons & Siu Mai
Japan - Gyoza
South Korea - Kimchi Mandu
Vietnam - Bánh bột lọc
I have researched the traditional way to make the dumplings, and have stayed as traditional as possible, but have added or substituted ingredients when necessary due to missing components or food allergies.
I will include a recipe for dumpling wrappers; however, I don’t suggest making your own, unless you have a lot of time. The store-bought wrappers (found in any Asian grocery store) are just fine. I use store-bought wrappers when I need to make a lot of dumplings at one time. The only time store-bought will not work is when we visit Vietnam and make Bánh bột lọc.
Today we start our Dumpling Series with South Korea and one of my favourite dumplings:
The Kimchi Mandu
Store-bought Korean Mandu or Japanese Gyoza wrappers - two packages.
Or homemade wrappers (this is the recipe I used), recipe and technique from Flavours of Asia - here.
I would also suggest using this flour. It made a soft dough and wrapper. You can buy this flour in any Korean grocery store.
1 and 1/2 cups Kimchi, drained of excess water and finely chopped
1 package of firm tofu, excess water drained and then crumbled
200g Sweet Potato or Mung Bean Noodles
1.5 pounds of ground beef (or pork, or chicken, or more tofu for vegan)
1 small onion finely chopped
1 small bunch garlic chives, finely chopped, around 6-8
2 green onions (scallions) finely chopped
5 Shitake mushrooms finely chopped
½ cup cabbage finely chopped (I use Korean cabbage, however, you can use Nappa)
1.5 tsp fine sea salt
1.5 tsp sesame oil
1.5 tsp soy sauce
1.5 tsp minced garlic
1.5 tsp minced ginger
1.5 tsp of sugar (optional)
A few sprinkles of ground black peppers
Pre-cook your noodles and set them aside to cool. Once cool, squeeze out any excess water and chop into smaller bite-sized pieces
Squeeze the excess water out of the tofu and Kimchi, chopping and crumbling into smaller pieces
Chop and dice your remaining ingredients
Combine all ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Mix - you can use a spoon, but I use my hands to ensure everything is combined
Place a dumpling wrapper on your palm and add the filling in the centre of the wrapper - approximately a rounded spoonful
Dip your finger in some water and lightly wet the edge of the dumpling wrappers, fold over and seal the edges with your fingers if using store-bought wrappers. (If using handmade wrappers, the dough should be sticky enough to seal the edges)
Place the finished mandu on a non-stick tray or a parchment-lined baking sheet
Repeat until filling is finished or you’ve run out of wrappers
Here’s a great video from YouTube on how to fold dumplings. Click here. The Rose Bud at 0.58 is the technique you will be using for the Kimchi mandu.
You can pan-fry, boil or steam your finished mandu.
I’ll be using this mandu in my Tteok Mandu Guk (Korean Rice Cake Dumpling Soup) -
떡 만두국. Recipe coming soon.
You can also freeze the mandu on a tray and when frozen, transfer it to a zip lock bag or Tupperware for future use. The mandu will stay frozen for up to 6 months if sealed and packed correctly.