Happy New Year, the year of the golden pig! Dumplings are a celebratory food for lunar new year festivities across different Asian cultures. However in Korean tradition – the one I’m most familiar with – it’s eaten as part of rice cake soup (dduk gook) or simply steamed or fried. There’s one Korean dumpling recipe that makes it uniquely Korean and that’s of course kimchi mandu. The addition of kimchi in the dumpling filling gives it a punchy personality and a dose of probiotics, as kimchi is fermented. So what’s not to love?
In old Korean tradition it’s customary to have a dumpling party and invite friends and family over to make dumplings in bulk. This is a tradition that I learned about as an adult through another Korean-American friend who used to do this with her family. Every family is different and in my immigrant household my parents ran small businesses which took up most of their time and energy and there wasn’t much focus on passing on rituals of the mother country.
Now that I’m a parent to two young kids I find myself interested in cultural traditions that I missed out on and want to pass it onto my boys. Perhaps it’s a rite of passage as you grow older – craving to know your roots. So, in search of an authentic kimchi dumpling recipe from my family, I pieced together the flavors my dad recalled from his mom’s dumplings. Based on these clues and some internet searching I have the below recipe for you that I’ve used for the past few years. Make them for lunar new year or any other day you feel inclined they’ll be sure to be a delicious departure from your ordinary dumplings!
Dumpling making tips
And I leave you with some tips from my dad who emphatically instructed, “the most important thing is to squeeze out excess water from the tofu and kimchi with your hands.” And advised to, “make sure you use mung bean sprouts not soy bean sprouts.”
Recipe adjustments for special diets
You can easily adjust this recipe to be vegetarian by omitting the ground pork and increasing the veggies.
Make this gluten-free by using tamari or coconut aminos instead of soy sauce and making your own gluten free wrappers.