Can you name one person who does not like dumplings? I certainly can’t. I actually have a hard time naming anyone who wouldn’t shout out “I love dumplings!” with so much enthusiasm among my close friends. And I have friends from pretty much all around the world. I think anywhere in the world has its own version of dumplings. And they are often associated with warm fuzzy memory of home, family and holidays. Like every Korean kid growing up with their grandmas, homemade dumplings (Mandu in Korean) were staples that we had to have during the festive seasons.
Two biggest family holidays we celebrate in Korea are “Mid-autumn festival” otherwise known as Korean Thanksgiving and “Lunar new year”. Sitting around a table gossiping and making dumplings together was how my grandma, who is the best cook in the family, and my aunties started the preparation for those holidays. I on the other hand, was only interested in eating and busy stealing freshly made dumplings and putting them in my mouth (they were very hot but it didn’t stop me). I know it doesn’t sound like much but what I did was quite naughty, because those dumplings were supposed to be used at family memorial service for our dead ancestors before we, live humans could serve them at our table. The only way I could eat some portion of them was to help my family, and that is how I first learned to make dumplings. Although I didn’t appreciate much at that time, I am now forever grateful for that experience.
For the first time in almost 20 years I made dumplings for Lunar new year in late January, and things were relatively normal back then even in Asia. I don’t usually go to Korea during Lunar new year holiday (it’s too cold!) but I always go see my family a few months after that in spring. And I was planning on doing the same this year…Little did I know. I am not sure when I’ll be able to get on a plane and visit my family and friends again. It makes me too sad thinking about it so I’m trying not to do that and stay positive instead.
The situation I’m in right now makes the fun and joy I had while making these dumplings even more special. Although it was just me and my husband, making dumplings had brought all the lovely memories I had with my family back home in Korea. I could almost hear my aunties chatting and laughing loudly and grandma bossing around telling us what we were doing wrong. If my husband had helped me like he’d promised then that’s exactly what I would have done too. But after watching me making the first few Mandu, he gave up and took a video for this post instead (so he earned the right to his dumplings I guess ;-)). I couldn’t remember what my Mandu looked or tasted like back then, but ones I made this year apparently deserved a big A-Plus according to a man who is probably quite biased 😊
You should be able to make about 40-50 dumplings depending on the size of your wrappers. If you mess up a few in the process like I did and end up running out of wrappers, you can simply shape the filling into a little ball and make meatballs or skinless dumplings instead. They’re still extremely delicious on their own.
- 40-50 round dumplings or gyoza wrappers
- 4/3 cup. kimchi, finely chopped
- 360g/12.7oz. minced pork
- 2 cup. Asian chives, buchu, finely chopped
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp. grated ginger
- 1 tbsp. sesame oil
- 2 tsp. ground white pepper
- A few pinches of salt
- 1 tbsp. soy sauce
- 1 tbsp. rice vinegar
- 1/2 tbsp. chili oil or chili sauce of your choice
- A few pinches of ground white pepper
Make the dipping sauce and set aside.
After chopping kimchi, squeeze out its juice as much as possible with a spoon through a sieve. You can use a cloth but it might get stained and smell like kimchi afterward. I didn’t have any cloth so used the sieve, and it worked just fine.
Mix minced pork, chopped kimchi, chives, garlic, eggs and ginger.
Add sesame oil, white pepper and a little bit of salt. kimchi is already quite salty so you don’t need to season heavily.
Separate the wrappers and place them on a board or a tray.
With a spoon, place the filling in the middle of wrapper (refer to photo above). The key is to make sure there’s enough space around the filling to seal the dumpling properly.
To see how to shape and seal the dumplings click here to see the video
Not too complicated, right? Trust me you will get the hang of it after making a few :-).
In a boiling water, add dumplings and cook for a few minutes.
When they float, cook for another minute or two, take them out and drain.
Serve them with dipping sauce.
I see so many people discovering the joy of cooking at home these days. As always, cooking is definitely getting me through this difficult time. I made these Mandu for a special occasion under a very different circumstance, but I feel like right now may be a perfect time to make dumplings with your family at home. I promise you, you will have so much fun even if your dumplings turned out to be less than perfect. And all your beautiful memories will be cherished by you and your loved ones forever like mine.
Stay safe, healthy and happy!