Growing up, dumplings (Mandu/만두 in Korean) were a household staple that my Mom made multiple batches of and kept it in the freezer for whenever the family was in a mood for something comforting.
My first memory of making dumplings was around 11 when I helped my Mom fill and fold them. Let’s just say it wasn’t the prettiest looking thing, but I eventually got better and even looked up different folding methods (wonton, gyoza, you name it). A vegetarian-based kimchi filling was my Mom’s go to (she didn’t like the “porky” smell the filling gave off when cooked) and we’d eat it steamed, pan-fried, deep-fried, and in soups. After more than a decade later, I thought why not make my own dumpling recipe?
My inspiration for this recipe came from the popular dish that we all know as Chinese wonton dumplings in hot chili oil. I wanted to make a pork based dumpling that my Mom would enjoy as well, so I used a Japanese stock seasoning called ‘dashi’. Traditional homemade dashi consists of water, kombu (dried kelp) and bonito fish flakes. However for this recipe, I highly suggest using powdered dashi (flavor is more concentrated and keeps the filling at a nice consistency); there are a variety of flavors that you can use, but I particularly used mushroom dashi for it’s umami component.
The dumplings itself and hot chili oil is fairly simple to execute, but it does take some time to make them- so I suggest picking a day that you can dedicate some time to and really have fun with it and challenge yourself to different dumpling shapes!
- 1 1/2 lbs ground pork (If you have a grinder at home, I suggest using pork shoulder for the grind!)
- 1 tbsp minced garlic (Can substitute with garlic powder if you don’t have fresh garlic readily available)
- 1 tbsp minced ginger (Can substitute with ground ginger if you don’t have fresh ginger readily available)
- 1 tsp mushroom dashi (Optional- can be found at any Korean or Japanese grocery store)
- 1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce (Liquid seasoning, amino acids, or Nama Shoyu- unpasteurized soy sauce can be used instead)
- 1/2 tbsp sesame oil
- 1/4 cup minced yellow onion
- 1/2 cup finely chopped Chinese chives (In Korean grocery stores they’re called ‘buchu/부추’)
- 1/4 tsp white pepper
- 1/2-1 tbsp salt (Depending on if soy sauce is used/substituted)
- 1 Pack of square wonton wrappers (Found in the frozen section at any Asian grocery store)
- 1 whole egg
- Thinly sliced garlic chips (Can be store bought or made at home)
- Chopped scallions
- Sliced Korean red pepper
- Toasted sesame seeds
- Soy Sauce
For my hot chili oil recipe, click the following link
- In a large mixing bowl, combine all of your ingredients for the filling together (except the egg). Once the filling is made, cover it and store it in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to an hour.(Animal fat starts to lose its solid structure once it reaches to about 70 degrees Fahrenheit- last thing anyone wants is a filling that can’t hold itself up!)
- In the mean time, leave the pack of wonton wrappers out to thaw until it’s pliable. Take your egg as well and mix it with 1 tbsp of water in a small bowl; that’ll be your egg wash which will help seal the wrappers together.
- Take the filling out of the fridge after it’s been chilled and set up the table you’re going to be working on with a spoon, your egg wash, and a tray to place the dumplings.
- Scoop a tablespoon of the filling and place it on the center of the wonton wrapper. With a finger, seal the edges of the wrapper with the egg wash.
- Fold the wrapper in half (one corner of the wrapper meeting the other the corner to make a triangle) and pinch the edges together; you want to make sure to remove any air pockets as well.
- After the edges are tightly secured, take the bottom corners of the dumpling and you’re going to overlap them like the first photo; this will help round out the filling and create a very appealing shape! (I call it a boat because it holds onto the hot oil nicely; also use egg wash to seal the corners together).
- Once you feel that you’ve made a handful of dumplings, you then have the option of steaming them or searing them first on a frying pan and then steaming them Gyoza style (creates a crispy bottom while the rest of the dumpling is tender)
- When the dumplings are fully cooked, transfer them into a large bowl and slowly incorporate the hot chili oil and soy sauce (depending on how spicy and salty you like to eat). Add in the garlic chips, toasted sesame oil, scallions, and Korean red peppers as well.
- If the seasoning is to your liking, plate the dumplings on a nice platter and serve it while it’s still warm!