Thursday, January 12, 2012

Mandu

Mandu (mahn-dhu, 만두) are Korean dumplings. I love dumplings and I feel like everyone in the world must love dumplings because they are the universal food. The Chinese have pot stickers (or xiao long bao!), the Italians have ravioli, the Polish have pierogies, the Japanese have gyoza, there's Turkish manti, Indian samosas, Swedish pitepalt, British doughboys, the list goes on and on.

There are many different recipes but here's the one my sister and I prefer because it reminds us of our mom.

1 lb ground pork
3 scallions, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon grated ginger
1 or 2 cloves of garlic, grated
small handful of dangmyun (glass noodles)
1 egg
1 teaspoon soy sauce
14 oz. package of Korean dumpling wrappers (80 wrappers)

** 1/2 package of firm tofu, crumbled (which is an ingredient we actually didn't have in the house and didn't add to our filling but we definitely missed it)
*** You can also add in other flavorings, like chopped kimchi or vegetables (carrots, onions, cabbage) if you'd like

I grated the garlic and ginger (you could mince it very finely) so that no one would bite into their dumpling and find themselves overwhelmed by garlic and/or ginger.



















I boiled some water and threw in a small handful of glass noodles. I only needed enough to make about a 1/2 cup of cooked noodles.




Once the noodles were cooked I rinsed them off in cold water to stop the cooking and then cut them into tiny pieces using scissors.
I cut up the scallions into small pieces, like confetti. When I'm cutting scallions like this, I cut off the root ends then cut the stalks into thirds and then chop, chop, chop.
For some reason, my local grocery stores rarely have ground pork! You could use ground turkey or chicken or beef instead. I managed to find a small package though, thank goodness. It wouldn't have been like our childhood dumplings otherwise.
I dumped everything into a big bowl and mixed it all up (pork, noodles, scallions, garlic and ginger, soy sauce, egg, and if you have the crumbled tofu - which I didn't :( - or veggies/kimchi/other filling ingredients add that in now as well).

I set up a little station for myself with a tray lined with parchment (for the finished dumplings) and a little bowl of water (to glue the dumpling skin together).

  1. Grab a wrapper and place it in your hand, or on a plate.
  2. Place a bit of filling in the middle - about 1 teaspoon.
  3. Wet the edge of half of the wrapper with a bit of water. I just dip my finger in and run it along the edge. Don't wet around the entire edge because it'll get slippery and won't stick as well.
  4. Pinch the edges together until you feel the wrapper seal. Work from one side to the other to make sure you don't trap in any huge air bubbles.
  5. Tada! Finished mandu.
little sister making a mandu
tray of finished beauties
And as far as preparation, there are 3 typical ways to prepare the mandu:
군만두 = goon mandu = fried mandu
Start the mandu off in a frying pan with a tiny bit of oil. Once they start to sizzle, I cover the pan with a piece of foil, leave a small opening, add a tablespoon of water, and let the steam cook the dumplings through. Once the water has all evaporated, add a bit more oil and then finish them off until they're crisp and golden. You could also deep fry these, but that's messy and unhealthy.
serve with a little soy sauce - I jazzed mine up with some sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, and a few slices of ginger
찐만두 = jjin mandu = steamed mandu
Steam the dumplings in a steamer (I used a metal basket but you could use bamboo) and steam until they look wrinkly and cooked through.
For new years, Koreans make ddukguk (rice cake soup) and we like to add mandu in ours. This year, we did a kimchi soup as the base, just for kicks (and because my sister LOVES kimchi soup).
물만두 = mul mandu = boiled mandu
떡만두국 = dduk mandu guk = rice cake and mandu soup
I add the mandu at the v. last minute before serving. If they cook for too long, the skins absorb too much liquid and get mushy.

It's so chilly out, I kind of wish I had some dduk mandu guk right now.

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