Mandoo Time

January 30, 2014

After 18 years of eating a home-cooked Korean meal almost every night, I can't say I crave it too often these days. I was spoiled all those years and my palate yearns to try new foods. But one thing I still crave is my grandma's mandoo (Korean Potstickers/Dumplings).
As a young Chung, my sisters and I would help Grandma wrap mandoo. Mine were and still aren't that great-looking but it's one of my favorite memories from childhood.

I always found these dumplings best when steamed but you can surely pan fry or even deep fry them. My grandma's mandoo are simple and that's why they're so delicious. You don't need to mucky them up with kimchi or soy sauce, just some veggies, meat and salt & pepper are all that is needed.

A few key steps:
  • Make sure to DRAIN the tofu before cooking. You want the mandoo filling to not be too juicy (that creates a big mess when trying to wrap the dumplings). To drain: 
    • Break off tofu into pieces (will be crumbled later on so size of pieces doesn't matter). 
    • Wrap tofu pieces in paper towel and squeeze out as much liquid as possible (make sure to do this over the sink).
  • Since no soy sauce or kimchi is carrying the dish, proper seasoning is important. I kept my 1/2 tsp spoon near me and added spoonfuls to each ingredient. Taste and add more as you go. 
  • I've never liked chopping cabbage so sometimes I'll buy a package of cole slaw mix (complete with carrots) for mandoo. Just chop the slaw mix into smaller pieces. It'll save a lot of time! 
  • If you have too many dumplings to consume all at once, freeze the uncooked dumplings by placing on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and put inside freezer for 3 hours. Then transfer dumplings into a freezer bag. 
  • If my instructions on how to wrap are confusing (steps 4 & 5), refer to this quick video of me wrapping a mandoo.
But if you're too lazy to go through the motions of making these dumplings, Trader Joe's Pork Gyoza Potstickers are a pretty good substitute. 

Grandma's Mandoo (makes 1-2 packages of gyoza wrappers)
Canola Oil
1/2 lb ground pork
1/2 package of firm tofu (drained, get as much liquid out as possible)
1/2 head of a small cabbage, shredded
1 package of bean sprouts, chopped
1 onion, diced
6 garlic cloves, minced
1-2 packages of gyoza wrappers (can be found near the produce in your grocery or in the freezer section of an Asian Market)
salt and pepper
small bowl of water
1. Heat a frying pan and add 1 tbs of canola oil. Add ground pork and break up meat into crumbles. Season with 1/2 tsp of salt and pepper. Cook until no longer pink. Add in tofu and break into crumbles. When heated through, set aside into a large bowl. 
2. Return to pan and add in 1 tbs of canola oil and add in cabbage and bean sprouts. Season with 1/2 tsp of salt and a good amount of pepper. Cook for 4 minutes or until cabbage is cooked through. Set aside in the bowl with tofu and pork.
3. Add another tbs of oil to the pan and add beans sprouts and onion. Cook until onion is translucent and then add garlic. Season with 1/2 tsp of salt. Cook for another 30 seconds. Add vegetables to bowl with other ingredients and mix until well combined. Taste and season with more salt and pepper if needed.
4. Place one gyoza wrapper in the palm of your hand (left hand if you're right-handed and vice versa if you're a lefty). Dip index finger of other hand in water and line the outer rim of the wrapper with water.
5. Add a tsp of filling to middle of gyoza wrapper. Fold wrapper in half and pinch outer edges closed. Then cup the filling and squeeze out any air inside dumpling. Add folds to edges if desired. (Refer to the video above).
6. Repeat steps 4 & 5 until all gyoza wrappers and/or filling is used.
7. In a large pot, boil a couple inches of water and the lower heat. Add metal steamer basket and add several dumplings and cover. Steam for 4 minutes.
8. If you prefer to pan fry, add canola oil to frying pan over medium heat and add dumplings. Cook until both sides are golden brown. Drain on paper towel.
9. Serve with soy sauce and enjoy!

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