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Kimchee Mandu with Brown Butter Pan Sauce

Kimchee Mandu with Brown Butter Pan Sauce

Dumplings, or Mandu (or Mandoo), as they are called in Korean, are a delicious way to stretch your dollar. This recipe calls for less than a pound of ground pork, which we get from a local farm for about $6.50*. The tofu is about $3, the sweet potato noodles were $3, the kimchi, $5.50. The remaining pantry staples and aromatics for the filling add up to less than $5. Dumpling wrappers are under $2 for a package filled with 65 to 100 wrappers, and if you make your own wrappers, the cost of flour + water is even less. That adds up to less than $25 to make 75 dumplings. Serve with rice and a salad and 6 or 7 (8 for me!) dumplings makes a full meal. As an appetizer, even less will do. All that to say, making dumplings at home is a thrifty way to feed yourself, freeze for later or entertain a roomful of people.

Lauren and I chose to pan-fry this batch, only to discover that my pantry was void of any cooking oil, though my refrigerator was well-stocked in butter. Butter worked. Pan-frying in butter, which browns as you fry, adds a rich nutty flavor and makes for a pan-sauce you should know about. This is a one-two punch with the dipping sauce, and we are ok with that. 

Dipping Sauce

  • 2:1 soy sauce to rice vinegar

  • About a teaspoon of chili flakes or chili oil (optional)

  • 1 teaspoon Asian chives or scallions, thinly chopped

For Frying & Pan Sauce:

2 tablespoons of butter

2 tablespoons tablespoon rice vinegar

Dash of soy sauce

Filling

  • 100 pieces frozen dumpling wrappers, about 3" in diameter

  • 3½ ounces (100g) Korean sweet potato noodles (aka dangmyeon)

  • 1 pound kimchi, finely chopped

  • 12 ounces firm tofu

  • 1 small bunch (about 3 ounces) Asian chives or 1 bunch green onions, finely chopped

  • ⅔ pound ground pork

  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

  • 1 tablespoon rice wine

  • 1 egg, slightly beaten

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • Black pepper

Remove dumpling wrappers from the freezer to thaw on the counter for about an hour. Cook the sweet potato noodles according to the directions on the package. Rinse the noodles, drain well and chop into small pieces. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, combine pork, garlic, rice wine, salt and pepper. Place tofu on 2 layers of cheesecloth or a cotton tea towel and squeeze it to remove as much water as you can. Add the remaining ingredients to the pork mixture and mix well.

To make a half moon shape, place about 1 ½ teaspoons of filling on the wrapper. Using your finger, dab a little water on the edge of wrapper, then fold in half. Pinch the edge to seal tightly. For a full-moon, bring both ends to the center, dab one end with water and seal tightly.

Melt about 2 tablespoons of butter on medium-high heat until it bubbles, then place dumplings in the hot buttered pan. Refrain from moving the dumplings as they cook. Your butter will start to brown as your mandu fries-- this is not a bad thing. Once the bottoms are a golden brown color, add just enough water to cover the bottom of the pan, turn the heat on low and place a lid on the pan to finish the mandu with steam (about 2 minutes). Remove from the pan and deglaze with rice vinegar, then add a dash of soy sauce and a drop of sesame oil before drizzling over your mandu. 

If you prefer to use the more traditional method of pan-frying in oil, check out the original recipe at Beyond Kimchee.

For the dipping sauce, stir the soy sauce, rice vinegar, chile and scallions together for your dipping sauce. Place in a small bowl to serve with your finished mandu

 Sweet Potato + Pineapple Empanadas
 Sweet Potato + Pineapple Empanadas
 Sweet Potato + Pineapple Empanadas
Photos + Video by Lauren V. Allen; Styling by Mackenzie A. Smith

Photos + Video by Lauren V. Allen; Styling by Mackenzie A. Smith

To freeze for later, make sure to place mandu on a single row in a baking sheet and pre-freeze for about 20 minutes before sealing them in a bag and back into the freezer. 

Vocabulary: 

Mul-mandu is boiled, Jjin-mandu is steamed, mandu guk is used to make soup, Tuigin-mandu is deep fried, and gun-mandu (our favorite!) is pan-fried. Goji mandu calls for meat in the main ingredient in the filling, while yachae mandu is filled with vegetables. 

Thanks to Korean Bapsang for the online lesson in Korean mandu vocabulary, and to Beyond Kimchee  for the recipe. 

*Ground pork from the farmer's market is generally pricier than the what you can purchase at the grocery store, but making dumplings makes it more affordable to purchase and enjoy meat that is ethically sourced -- and still stretch your dollar. That said, getting your pork from the grocery store would result in dumplings that cost even less. Both will be delicious! 

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