Mandu are a very popular dish of Korean cuisine. These small dumplings are popular all over the world and are served in most Korean restaurants. There are a multitude of varieties along the Korean peninsula. They are found in different forms, whether pan-fried, deep-fried, boiled or steamed.
What are mandu?
Mandu are a Korean version of meat and vegetable dumplings. Their dough is very fine and becomes translucent when steamed.
Also, they are found all over the Asian continent along the Silk Road and especially in China, Turkey, Korea, Tibet and even in Japan. They are usually stuffed with cabbage, scallions and ground pork or beef.
Mandu are very rich in aromas and flavors due to the presence of ginger, soy sauce and shiitake mushrooms in their stuffing. Also, choosing a good sesame oil is essential for a strong taste and an explosion of flavors.
How to make mandu
Mandu (만두; 饅頭) can be prepared in different ways. Indeed, they can be steamed for a light and fat-free version. They can also be lightly sautéed in the pan.
Others prefer them more crisp and will opt for their fried version. Finally, you can cook them in boiling water and boil them like gnocchi. In this case, the dumplings are cooked when they rise to the surface.
What is the origin of mandu?
The origin of the mandu remains unclear. According to some sources, the origin of the mandu dates back to the 14th century and was first introduced to Korea by the Yuan Mongols in the 14th century during the Goryeo dynasty.
According to some historians, the mandu date back to an earlier period and were introduced into Korea by the silk route.
Folding and preparation tips
There are several ways to fold the mandu: in the shape of half-moons or small baskets, with or without folds. That said, care should be taken to apply a little cold water to the edges of the mandu before sealing the ends. Thus, the dumplings will not open during cooking and will retain all their flavors.
A little organization: You must also make sure to prepare two trays and line them with parchment paper or plastic wrap before placing the newly formed mandu. By placing the dumplings directly on a tray, they may stick and tear when they are removed from the tray for cooking.
Mandu dries quickly in the open air. You must therefore make sure to cover the trays of mandu that are ready for cooking with plastic wrap.
Varieties around the world
The mandu are found under different names around the world.
Manti are also popular in the Balkans and in the southern Caucasus region. In this region, people prefer to fill the manti with lamb meat.
Jiaozi (Chinese: 餃子) are the most common dumplings in China and East Asia. They are similar to Korean mandu, eaten hot with soy sauce.
Japanese gyōza (ギ ョ ー ザ, ギ ョ ウ ザ) are the equivalent of mandu and are usually pan-fried. They are served with a spicy chili sauce.
Finally, in Tibet, momo are very popular. These are steamed dumplings and come in the form of small baskets.
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1¼ cup cold water
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 oz. firm tofu drained, and chopped
- 4 oz. napa cabbage kimchi drained and finely chopped
- 5 oz. green cabbage finely chopped
- 5 oz. mung bean sprouts
- ½ medium onion finely chopped
- 2 finely chopped scallions
- 10 oz. ground pork
- 8 oz. ground beef
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh ginger
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 egg
- ¼ teaspoon salt (to season the garnish, and more to salt the vegetables)
- ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
- Vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
- 1 tablespoon water
- ½ teaspoon caster sugar
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon gochugaru (red pepper flakes)
- Pasta maker
- Round cookie cutter (3 inches / 8 cm)
- Combine flour and salt. Add the oil, then add the water little by little and form a homogeneous dough that is not too soft. Do not add more water than necessary.
- Let the dough rest for at least 45 minutes, covered with a cloth, in a dry place.
- Generously flour the dough.
- Roll it through the pasta maker to make very thin strips that will be cut with a round cookie cutter.
In a bowl, generously sprinkle the cabbage with salt and set aside for 30 minutes while preparing the other ingredients.
In the meantime, bring a pot of water to a boil.
Add the mung bean sprouts and blanch for 3 minutes.
Drain, let cool, and finely chop in a bowl. Set aside.
Drain and wring out as much water as possible from the cabbage, by hand.
- Transfer to a large bowl and mix.
Prepare all the remaining ingredients and add them to the bowl with the cabbage.
- Mix well by hand and form a paste.
Filling of the mandu
- Operate on a smooth, dry and floured work surface.
- Place a full teaspoon of the filling on a disc of dough.
- Wet the edges with water and close tightly, pushing the air with your fingers, in the shape of a half moon.
- Repeat this process until the discs of dough are all used up.
- Heat a pan with 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil over medium-high heat.
- Add the mandu, making sure they don't touch each other.
- Fry for 2 to 3 minutes on each side over medium heat until golden brown.
- Heat a large amount of vegetable oil in a fryer or skillet over medium-high heat to 340 F (170˚C).
- Fry the mandu for 2 to 3 minutes until they are golden.
- Cook the mandu in a steamer for 10 minutes.
- Make sure to line the steamer with moist cheesecloth or cabbage leaves to prevent the mandu from sticking.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
- Add the mandu, stirring gently so that they do not stick to the bottom of the pan. Cook a few at a time, and cook for 1 minute from the time they all rise to the surface.