Mandu 만두, or Korean Dumplings

Tofu is not a meat substitute. At least not in meat mandu. In these Korean dumplings tofu gives a smooth texture (usually obtained when using fat meat) and a mellow inimitable taste. Thanks to  its presence even the leanest meat stuffing never gets dry. I don’t give here the dumpling pastry recipe, since I never make it on my own. It is available, usually frozen, in practically every Asian grocery shop (Chinese, Japanese or Korean dumpling skins can be used here).

Sealing the dumplings’ edges is not difficult, but if you have such a magic dumpling sealer it is much easier and personally I have more fun using it:

I have bough mine in a Japanese shop, but I know Italians produce such utensils too.

This recipe comes from The Food and Cooking of Korea, probably one of the best cooking library buys in my life. Mandu can apparently be made only with vegetables, but my recipe is for the carnivores. I have modified it (mainly reducing the chives and tofu amount in the stuffing). I also use prefer to use soft tofu here and not the firm one. I have already prepared these dumplings with ground pork, beef, chicken and turkey and they are always fabulous.

Preparation: about 1 hour

Ingredients (for 25-30 dumplings):

3 garlic cloves crushed

1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

1 teaspoon mirin or sake

150g ground meat

90g soft or firm tofu

1 handful of chopped chives (I have put half “normal” chives half garlic chives)

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons sesame oil

2 teaspoon ground pepper

(1 egg, slightly beaten)

Combine all the ingredients apart from the tofu and the egg and leave to marinate for 15 minutes.

Add the crushed tofu and stir.

If you want to steam the dumplings, prepare a pan of boiling water and steaming wooden baskets or a rice cooker with a special steaming plate. Otherwise prepare simply a big pan of boiling water.

Either brush some raw egg on every dumpling skin or moist its edges with water (that’s what I did). Put a flat tablespoon stuffing on each skin and seal the edges, pinching them, or use the dumpling sealer.

Steam the dumplings for around 10 minutes or cook them in water for 5 minutes. They can also be fried afterwards.

I like to serve them with a mixture of soy sauce and rice vinegar, but the advised dipping sauce is a mixture of 4 tablespoons dark soy sauce, 2 tablespoons rice vinegar and 1 teaspoon chili powder.