making mandoo

24 02 2010

tonight’s bento was fugly and totally thrown together, so i thought i’d focus on the high point of its contents: my mostly-home-made mul mandoo (물만두 in korean, which translates to “water dumplings”).  these dumplings are pretty easy to throw together, and you can make the filling in advance, keep it in the freezer, and throw it in the fridge to defrost over the course of the day, so that it’s ready to fill dumplings for a pretty quick work-night dinner. i use store-bought dumpling skins, which also speeds the process. hey, mostly-home-made is better than not-home-made-at-all, right?!

here are my two filling recipes:

tofu-kimchi mandoo filling

  • 2/3 cup cooked hulled mung beans (i make mine in a 2-cup batch in the rice cooker, and then freeze part)
  • 1/4 of a medium-sized white onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped mushrooms (i used plain button because that’s what i had, but shitake or something more flavorful would be even better)
  • 2/3 cup chopped kimchi (i used granny choe’s baek kimchi — it’s just as flavorful as regular “red” kimchi, and much less messy!)
  • 1/3 block of tofu, chopped into very small cubes, with water squeezed out (i do this by putting my pile of chopped tofu into a kitchen towel, gathering up all the ends of the towel so that the tofu forms a “ball” in the center, and then twisting the whole thing — basically, wring the tofu out with the towel)
  • 1 tbsp. sesame oil, 1 tsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  • about 1/4 tsp. each salt and black pepper
  • 1 tsp. gochugaru (korean red pepper flakes)

beef mandoo filling

  • 2/3 cup cooked mung beans
  • 1/3 lb. ground beef
  • 1/4 of a medium-sized white onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
  • 1 tbsp. sesame oil, 2 tsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  • about 1/4 tsp. each salt and black pepper
  • 1 tsp. gochugaru

in case you didn’t notice, the fillings are basically the same, except in one you substitute beef for the tofu and kimchi (though you could leave in one or both ingredients — adding tofu to beef gives it a nice silky consistency, and the kimchi would obviously taste good with the beef too). in both cases, the idea is to keep the filling as dry as possible — this is the main reason for squeezing the tofu, and also explains the small portions of soy and sesame oil (just enough to help marry all the ingredients together). you can play around with additions or substitutions to this recipe, but i think you’ll find that if you add much more liquid, your dumpling skins will get soggy before you can cook the mandoo.

basic mandoo instructions:

  1. buy a package of dumpling skins. (i like chorpidong brand, because they are slightly thicker and therefore less prone to splitting.)
  2. make or defrost your filling.
  3. lay a dumpling skin flat on your work surface. dip your finger into a bit of water (i fill a ramekin and keep it on my work surface when i’m making mandoo) and run it around the edge of the skin, making an “O” that will serve as the “bulls-eye” for your filling. this water will act as the “glue” to seal the mandoo.
  4. place a heaping teaspoon of filling directly in the center of the skin. using your hands or a dumpling press, fold the dumpling in half and seal the edge so that the filling is enclosed. there are some lovely decorative ways to do this, but my boyfriend has been making mandoo since he was a kid, and he still prefers a simple, flat seal (i think he actually thinks he can cram more meat in this way, and he loooooves meat!).
  5. bring a large pot (the size you would cook pasta in) of water to a boil. drop your mandoo in — in order to prevent them from crowding and sticking together, you want to do this in small batches (6 to 8 mandoo).
  6. boil your mandoo for about 5 minutes. when they are done, they will be floating; the skins will have expanded ever-so-slightly, and will be slightly translucent. in the picture at the top of this post, the rectangular dish displays uncooked mandoo, and the leaf-shaped dish displays a few fresh from the pot; you can see the change in texture and transparency.

that’s it! you can dry them on paper towels and give them a quick pan-fry, but my boyfriend prefers to eat them still-wet from the pot. (like pasta, a slight amount of cooking water actually helps sauces adhere to the skin, rather than repelling it.) for sauce, we like a mixture of soy sauce, sesame oil, gochugaru, vinegar and chopped scallion — but you can dip in anything your heart desires.

just as the filling freezes well, so do the mandoo themselves — we usually make a huge batch and then cook them on nights when we’re feeling lazy.


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24 responses

24 02 2010
sheri

Yummy! I don’t make wrappers either. Soo much easier to buy!
Nice juxtaposition of mandoo in your pic: pre vs. post cooking, right?
I grew up making wontons. Love the dumpling thang!

24 02 2010
gamene

yup, pre vs. post cooking! i love how they retain the crimped edge even after the boiling process. dumplings ftw!

24 02 2010
Melanie

These are beautiful! Very nice.

24 02 2010
javapot

your wanton or dumpling (that’s what I call them) looks very neat and yummy. i’m too lazy to make them, he he

25 02 2010
Lia Chen

Very nice Megan! I never make my own dumpling skins too … but my mom is still making it. I am just too convenient with the ready dumpling skins ;) Love to eat this with hot & spicy ramyun.

25 02 2010
hapabento

ahh… handmade mandoo! My mom used to make these “for days”. Thanks for the memories.

Love the precise folding “pinch” design on these. Lovely.

25 02 2010
Susan Yuen

Gorgeous and yummy mandoo!!! Yep, I buy the wrappers too, it’s so much easier that way. Dumplings are comfort food for our family. :D

25 02 2010
KidsDreamWork

The dumplings look really yummy! I love making dumplings too but I can’t wrap it as nice as you did! The folding is really neat! Hmm…must make some dumplings soon after seeing your post, yummy!

25 02 2010
Marisa

I am really going to have to try these out they look so good. I’ve never made dumplings before but it is on my cooks challenge list. Your right there is nothing wrong with mostly homemade when you are a busy person as you are. I do a lot of mostly homemade things it make it easy to tailor things to your taste.

25 02 2010
Tata Bonita

Hi Megan, how I miss visiting your blog :D. OMG, you came up with beautiful and neat mandoo. I bet they also taste great too *but I want the ones with beef filling hehehe*, thanks for sharing the recipe :D

25 02 2010
gamene

thanks to you all, melanie, javapot, lia, debra, susan, kidsdreamwork, marisa and tata! your comments are all so sweet and appreciated!

26 02 2010
bentobird/Jenn

I loved this post! Beautiful photo, with those two delicate mandoo perfectly eching the patterns of the pretty leaf dish. Your detailed and authentic recipe so nicely written, too. Thank you for sharing this!

1 03 2010
Judy

Hi Megan, I saw this post and had most of the ingredients, so guess what we had for dinner last night? Wow! He loved them, as did I. I’m making more today. Thanks for the inspiration!

7 03 2010
gamene

sorry for the late response, jenn and judy! i’m so glad you both liked the post, and that you got a chance to try it out judy! yay!

14 03 2010
Karen N.

Just made a plate for dinner. DELICIOUS!!!! I made the beef version with tofu but no kimchi since I didn’t have any handy. They taste just like what I remember from childhood. Thanks for the recipe.

14 03 2010
gamene

yay, so glad you liked them! (did ben try them too?)

15 03 2010
Karen N.

He’s on such a strict diet, so we’ll see if I can get him to try it on his “break the diet” day … but he always wants Korean BBQ or McDonalds on those days. Just occurred to me that I should make the tofu/ kimchi version for him. I also left out the mushrooms. Do you cook them at all ahead of time to get the moisture out? Or do they hold up okay raw?

15 03 2010
gamene

oh i forgot about the diet – but yes, the tofu kimchi ones are very flavorful and might be a good healthy option on regular diet days.

i don’t cook the mushrooms in advance, i just chop them up *really* small so that they can be really well incorporated into the rest of the filling mixture.

15 03 2010
Karen N.

Another question: when using frozen, assembled mandu, how long do you defrost before plopping them in the boiling water?

15 03 2010
gamene

i usually just nuke them for about 45 seconds (that’s the appropriate time when i’m doing a single serving, about 8 dumplings)

16 03 2010
Karen N.

So I tried thawing the dumplings in the fridge, and the skins got a little soggy, so I think your nuking method is probably the way to go.

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