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.
- 1 1/2 cup finely chopped napa cabbage kimchi (ripe)
- 1 oz dried sweet potato noodles (dangmyeun)
- 8 oz firm tofu
- 1/4 cup finely chopped garlic/Chinese chives
- 8 oz ground pork
- 1 cup boiled and chopped mung bean sprouts
- 2 tsp sea salt
- 4 tsp soy sauce
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- 1 package dumpling wrappers (50)
- 1 small bowl of water for sealing the wrapper
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 1/2 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp toasted sesame seeds
- 1 finely chopped scallion
- 1 clove minced garlic
- 1/4 tsp sweeter of choice (honey)
- 1/2 tsp korean dried chilli flakes (gochugaru)
Drain excess water from the tofu. Crumble the tofu with your hands into a bowl and using a cheese cloth squeeze out as much water as you can. Set aside.
Drain the kimchi of any excess moisture and using your hands (with gloves optional) or with a cheese cloth you don’t mind staining with kimchi juice! squeeze out as much moisture as possible. Set aside.
Boil water in a small sauce pan and then remove from heat. Steep the dried noodles for about 5 minutes until they are soft. Finely chop them up (should be about 1/2 cup).
Combine the drained tofu, kimchi, noodles, mung bean sprouts, ground pork, chopped chives, soy sauce and sesame oil. Mix well with your hands or fork.
Take about 1 tablespoon of dumpling filling and place in the center of the wrapper. Wet your finger with water to moisten the edges of the dumpling wrapper, fold over and press.
You can boil, steam or pan-fry these dumplings.
Make the dipping sauce by combining all the ingredients together. Be sure to taste along the way and make adjustments to your liking.
Keep the dumpling wrappers moist while you fill them by placing a wet paper towel over them.
Here’s a great tutorial on how to fold dumplings 6 different ways!