Korean Dumplings (aka: Mandu)

I haven’t the foggiest idea why I wanted to make my own dumplings, but on Saturday evening I did.  And I have to admit, I was really impressed with how amazing they came out!

Finding the supplies wasn’t challenging, but it did have a little legwork to it.  The great thing about living in Montgomery is that there is a great Korean community here because of the Hyundai plant just south of town.  This made finding the more unusual ingredients pretty simple.

Let’s get started, shall we?

First measure out a cup of ground pork and two cups of ground beef and place them in the biggest bowl you can find.

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Add a tsp of salt, a Tbsp of sesame oil,  and ½ tsp of ground pepper.  Mix this and the meat together well and push it over to one side of the bowl.

Next, wash your Asian chives, making sure to dry them off well.

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Chop up 2 cups, add a Tbsp of canola or vegetable oil then mix.  The oil coats the veggies and helps them to retain their moisture.

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Add the chives to the big bowl next the to ground meat mixture.

Chop up a handful of shiitake mushrooms and half an onion. Put them into a small bowl and add a tsp of soy sauce, a tsp of sugar, and 2 tsp of sesame oil.

Mix everything together by hand and transfer it to the big bowl.

Now open up the tofu. I use extra firm because I feel like tofu is so soft as it is, but this is person preference. So use whichever your prefer. After opening the tofu and slicing it in half, place it into a cotton dish towel or several layers of paper towels. Gather the cloth at the top and twist to squeeze out as much of the water as possible and then put it into a small bowl with a pinch of salt and a tsp of sesame oil. Mix it by hand and then put it next to chopped chives in the big bowl.

Tada!  Does it look so pretty already?! Just add 3 cloves of minced garlic to the big bowl and get messy because now we’re mixing all ingredients by hand to create our dumpling filling.

Now I have to admit after I mixed everything by hand, I tossed it into the food processor (in batches) because I’m not a huge big, ole’ chunk of onion fan.  But that is completely up to you! If you like large chunks of veggies then you’re ready to start filling your dumpling wrappers, but if you’re more like me… put it into the food processor in manageable amounts and pulse it until its a consistency of your liking.   I don’t have a picture of that because, to be honest, it looked a little gross…

Onto the wrapping!  You want to make sure you buy the right kind of dumpling wrappers and not spring roll or rice paper wrappers.  They are WAY TOO thin for this.  I had to go to a couple of different stores and then finally found them at a small Korean market in their freezer section.
Look for eggroll wrappers or mandu skins.

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Take a wrapper and place it in the palm of your hand.  Using a soup spoon, put a scoop of filling into the wrapper like so…

Yes, I am aware this dumpling isn’t in my hand, but it’s kinda hard to take photos and make dumplings.  This is also the reason there aren’t any shots of me actually wrapping up the dumplings.  I guess I need a kitchen assistant or something.  BUT there are plenty of videos online that demonstrate the various wrapping techniques, but I thought this would be a good example, because it’s simple and short!  How to Wrap a Dumpling.  Be prepared to make a bunch of these!  I took the big bowl of filling, wrappers, little dish of water and a plastic-wrap lined cookie sheet into the den and watched “The Vicar of Dibley” while wrapping.

Now I’m pretty much a book-definition WASP, therefore this was the first time I’d ever attempted to make korean dumplings and let’s just say my wrapping skills need work.  The “pea pod” fold is a lot harder than it looks… as you will see in the pictures below.  They aren’t the most attractive looking dumplings in the history of mankind, but shit happens!  This particular shape of dumpling is good for steaming and pan- or deep-frying.

pea pod dumplings

This tray of dumplings went straight into the freezer…which reminds me, I need to take them out.  I’m going to chuck the lot of them into a Food Saver bag and vacuum pack them for later use.

The second shape of dumpling I did is the “big hug”, as the lady in the video calls it.  They are super easy.  Just remember to put water on the edge of the wrapper when you want two parts to stick together and you’ll find that these are easy to do!  These guys are great for poaching, steaming or boiling.

big hug dumplings

I have to admit, I was really proud of myself when I looked at them because they didn’t look bad!  In fact, I think they are pretty cute.  The big hugs are also traditionally used in making dumpling soup too.  I just realized that they kind of look like big tortellini. 🙂

All the dumplings have been sufficiently stuffed and wrapped so let’s start cookin’ these bad boys!  I chose to boil mine.  I would have steamed them, but alas, I have no steamer.  I know, I’m a horrible person…  Moving on…

Bring a pot of water to a good rolling boil and drop a few in, making sure they don’t stick to the bottom of the pot or each other.  I recommend doing them in small batches.  Once the dumpling floats to the top, it’s done!  It’s that simple!

boiling dumplings

I removed them from the pot with a slotted spoon and put them on a plate with a ramekin of dumpling sauce that I bought while at the Korean market.  You don’t have to get this particular brand whatever it is…*shrugs*  If you can’t find a “dumpling sauce” look for “Gyoza” sauce.  It’s a Chinese dumpling dipping sauce and it’s awesome too.

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Dumplings boiled – check!  Dipping Sauce – check!  Time to chow down!  These little guys were more labor-intensive than a lot of things and yes you could just go buy some gross, highly-processed frozen dumplings, but what the hell would you?!  Gross.  Go to the store(s), buy some fresh ingredients and make your own, damnit!  You know exactly what is going into these little dudes and you know they are fresh!  Ever since I’ve started cooking more and more and growing a lot of my own produce, I get the heebee-geebeeies when I look at a lot of the stuff at the grocery store.  *steps off soapbox*

I have to admit that considering how easy they were to make (which they were!) and how amazingly good they tasted, I’ll definitely be making these many more times.  I want to try making them with shrimp!

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INGREDIENTS:
1 cup of ground pork
2 cups of ground beef
2 cups of chopped Asian chives
Shiitake mushrooms
half onion
half package of tofu
3 cloves of minced garlic
salt
sugar
sesame oil
vegetable oil
mandu skins

INSTRUCTIONS:

Place 1 cup of ground pork and 2 cups of ground beef into a big bowl.

Add 1 tsp of salt, 1 Tbsp of sesame oil, ½ tsp of ground pepper and mix it by hand and push the mixture of meat on the side of the bowl.

Wash Asian chives, and dry well. Chop 2 cups of chives. Add 1 Tbsp of oil and mix it up. Place it in the big bowl next to the ground meat.

Chop a handful of shiitake mushrooms and half an onion. Put them into a small bowl.

Add 1 tsp of soy sauce, 1 tsp of sugar, and 2 tsp of sesame oil to the small bowl. Mix by hand and transfer it to the big bowl.

Squeeze a half package of tofu with a cotton cloth or paper towel and put it into a small bowl. Add a pinch of salt and 1 tsp of sesame oil. Mix it by hand and then put it next to chopped chives.

In the big bowl, add 3 cloves of minced garlic and mix all ingredients by hand.

Put some of the filling mixture into the center of a mandu skin.

Use your fingertips to apply a little cold water to one edge of the skin. This will act as a sealant when you fold it over.

Fold skin in half over filling and press edges together to make ripple shape.  Find out  How to Wrap a Dumpling.

Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil and place a small batch of dumplings into the water.

Once the dumplings float to the top, remove them and start a new batch.

Serve immediately with dipping sauce.

 

 

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