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Korean Dumplings: Where to Find the Best

Korean Dumplings: Where to Find the Best


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Which restaurants serve the best Korean dumplings?

At New York's Mandoo Bar, dumplings are handmade in the front window.

Just about every culture on earth has an indigenous dumpling of some sort, and in Korea, those are called mandu, or mandoo. But there are plenty of restaurants across the country where mandoo are available; just about every Korean restaurant serves them. Here are three restaurants selling great mandoo.

Mandoo Bar, New York City
Visitors to this Koreatown restaurant can watch mandoo being handmade in the front window throughout the day and night.

Myung In Dumplings, Los Angeles
The best mandoo in Los Angeles can be found at this unassuming spot. Offerings include large and small dumplings filled with pork and vegetables, pork and kimchi, or pork and shrimp; spicy dumplings; fried dumplings; dumpling soup; vegetable dumplings; and sweet red bean dumplings.

Woo Nam Jeong Stone Bowl, Atlanta
Atlanta’s Buford Highway is a big melting pot of amazing ethic cuisines, and at Woo Nam Jeong Stone Bowl you’ll find some amazing mandoo. Spring for the goon mandu, hich are pan-fried, juicy, and just about perfect.


7 Best Frozen Dumplings You Can Buy, and 3 to Stay Away From

Rachel Linder/Eat This, Not That!

What a category. Where to begin!? Dumplings appear in nearly every world cuisine, although they can look drastically different from place to place. The basic premise: a bite-sized piece of a meat or veggie mixture, enveloped in dough. Usually, there's a dipping sauce involved. They can also come boiled, fried, or steamed—talk about variety!

From Chinese potstickers that are often filled with pork and chives, to Japanese gyoza that can be filled with meat and cabbage, to Polish pierogis and Ukrainian varenyky, opportunity abounds for delicious options to keep on hand in your freezer. But the wide range brings with it a lot of variation in quality, too. Some brands can be just as good as your restaurant favorites, while others teeter dangerously close to a rubbery mess that falls apart with the touch of a fork.


Mandu Wrappers (Mandu-pi,만두피)

Making homemade mandu has two components the dumpling wrappers and the filling. Don’t be afraid to make homemade dumpling wrappers from scratch. If you are looking for a true Korean mandu experience, I recommend my homemade Korean dumpling wrappers (mandu-pi) recipe.

Korean dumpling wrappers are made with flour, sweet rice flour, and a little cornstarch. The tender yet chewy texture of these dumpling wrappers make quite a difference compared to most other Asian dumpling wrappers.

On the other hand, store-bought dumpling wrappers do come in handy, and they make delicious semi-homemade mandu as well. When making Koran style mandu, look for the large size wrappers, about 5 inches in diameter.


Dipping Sauces

Ponzu-Ginger Dipping Sauce

You may not need sauce for your dumplings, but it's a good opportunity to provide a contrasting flavor. If you're gonna dip, you can do better than soy sauce or jarred chili oil, without expending a ton of effort—as in this no-cook sauce, which enriches citrusy ponzu with scallions, ginger, mirin, and sesame oil. It works best with a mild dipper, like the pan-fried vegetable dumplings described above.

Thai-Style Dipping Sauce

This sweet-tart sauce starts with equal parts fish sauce and lime juice and adds lots of raw garlic for heat. It's mellowed out by sugar, plus cilantro for freshness. We love this one for its versatility—although it's terrific paired with dumplings, you could easily use it to marinate a steak, or even as a salad dressing.

Coconut Curry Dipping Sauce

A richer, South Asian–inspired option that starts with simmering creamy coconut milk and Thai red curry paste into a thick, fragrant sauce. After it comes off the heat, mix in honey, soy sauce, fish sauce, ginger, and lime.

Kimchi and Honey Dipping Sauce

Kimchi paste is a tangy mix of the flavors generally found in kimchi: red pepper flakes, garlic, ginger, sugar, lime juice, and fish sauce. It's too concentrated to consume on its own, but becomes a killer dip when it's enriched and mellowed out with honey and melted butter.

Black Bean Dipping Sauce With Maple Syrup

In this unusual sauce, the salty, funky flavor of fermented black bean paste is reined in with two somewhat unexpected additions: peanut butter and maple syrup. The peanut butter softens the aggressiveness of the paste, while the syrup adds sweetness. Add chili oil for a bit of heat, then thin it out with a splash of water to reach a dippable consistency.


Korean Dumplings: Where to Find the Best - Recipes

Mandu, Korean dumplings, can be boiled in water then served in soups. Or serve them like potstickers by frying them on one side then steaming them until done. Serve fried mandu with a soy-vinegar dipping sauce. If you prefer, you can make the stuffing without tofu (tubu in Korean), substituting ground beef or pork, or even ground turkey instead.

Mandu Filling:
10 ounces firm tofu
8 ounces kimchi, minced
12 ounces extra lean ground beef
2 green onions, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 egg white, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

For Mandu Wrappers and Cooking:
1 package round egg roll wrappers (gyoza)
Vegetable oil
Water

Dipping Sauce (Chojang):
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)

Make the mandu filling:
1. Wrap the tofu in cheesecloth or a clean kitchen towel. Squeeze out the excess water. Crumble the tofu into a mixing bowl.

2. Place the kimchi in a fine-mesh sieve or cheesecloth and press or squeeze to remove excess moisture. Add the kimchi to the bowl.

3. Add the remaining mandu filling ingredients to the bowl and mix thoroughly. At this point, the mandu mixture may be covered and refrigerated until ready to fill the dumplings. (It will keep as long as one day.)

Stuff and cook the mandu:
1. For best results, line 2 baking sheets with waxed paper, then dust a layer of cornstarch on the waxed paper to keep the mandu from sticking.

2. Set out a small dish of water. Place several dumpling wrappers on a cutting board. Fill each with about 1 teaspoon of filling. Dip your finger in the water and run it over the edge of the dumpling skin. Fold the top over and press to seal, removing as much air as possible. Set the mandu on the prepared baking sheets while you stuff the remaining dumpling skins.

Note: Koreans traditionally curve the mandu into a ring shape, so the ends meet and are sealed with water. This type of shape is ideal for soups, but for fried mandu, I prefer the flatter, half-moon shapes as described above. If you have one of the potsticker gadgets that folds and seals the dumplings in one motion, you'll find the process goes much quicker. You can also freeze the stuffed mandu on a cornstarch-dusted baking sheet to keep them from sticking together, then transfer to an air-tight container and freeze until ready to use.

3. Heat a skillet with just enough vegetable oil to coat the bottom surface. (To speed up the cooking process, use two skillets.) When the oil is very hot, gently place a layer of stuffed mandu in the skillet, being careful not to overlap them. When the mandu are golden brown on the bottom, flip them over. Quickly add 2 tablespoons water to the pan, cover and steam the mandu until cooked through, about 2 minutes. Uncover the pan and place the mandu on a serving dish (you can keep them warm in a low oven while you cook the remaining mandu. Serve the mandu with dipping sauce.

Make the dipping sauce:
Combine all ingredients. Serve the dipping sauce in one communal bowl, or set out one small bowl and plate per person.

Other Links (includes more recipes):

October 1999 Itinerary.
Kate's Virtual Journey: A Progressive Feast


About Kate's Virtual World Tour: A Progressive Feast
From September 1999 to January 2000, this progressive banquet begins with Appetizers in Asia, continues with multiple courses across India, the Middle East, and North Africa, and around Christmas, crosses over to Europe for Desserts in Deutschland. Recipes, country backgrounds, local attractions, and special travel tips make each stop vivid and exciting, as if you were right there, experiencing the journey yourself. These world tour specialties and authentic recipes will inspire you to create your own unique and festive holiday tables, fit for kings and queens. No passport needed, just a fork, a stove and a hearty appetite!


The wrappers

You can always use store-bought dumpling wrappers for convenience. They come in refrigerated or frozen, and are available at Korean/Asian markets or even at your local grocery stores. When I make dumplings, I make a lot of them to freeze, so I often use store-bought ones to save time.

However, it&rsquos really not that hard to make wrappers at home. All you need is good old all-purpose flour, salt and water. Homemade wrappers taste much better. They are also more resilient and durable to work with.

Be aware that 1 cup of all-purpose flour can weigh quite differently depending on the flour and how you packed the cup &mdash anywhere from 120 grams to 140 grams. Also, depending on the flour, the amount of water needed can vary. So, it&rsquos important to feel the dough and adjust the moisture level as necessary by adding a little more water or flour as necessary. The dough should be slightly stiff. It will relax after resting for easy rolling. depending on how you plan to cook dumplings.

In general, hot water dough has more water content and less gluten so good for steaming or pan-frying in which the dumplings won&rsquot absorb much water as they cook. Hot water dumpling skin remains tender after being cooked. Cold water dough, on the other hand, tends to absorb less water and develops more gluten, therefore, is more resilient, which makes it better for boiling.

You don&rsquot really have to roll the dough to perfect rounds, but feel free to use a round cutter if you have one.

Lately, I&rsquove been having fun creating colorful doughs. The green dough in this post was made with spinach. You can also use garlic chives. Beets are great for pink/red dough, and carrots for orange dough. Simply cook the vegetables, puree, and strain to make colorful liquid for the dough. Try the same to make colorful homemade noodles for kalguksu (knife cut noodles).


Products

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Bibigo is the only Korean food brand for restaurants and consumer packaged goods that makes it deliciously simple for American consumers to share the excitement of creating, enjoying and falling in love with the uniquely modern flavors of Korea by tapping into the immersive sensory quality of the Korean dining experience while inviting consumers to adventurously mix and match tastes.


Tips For Enjoying Traditional Korean Dishes

I’ve eaten out in Korea way too much. It’s hard not too for many reasons. The food is cheap, delicious, and there is so much variety, a lot more than people realise before visiting Korea.

Before heading into the top 20 dishes, I’ve put together a few tips to help you get even more out of your trip and the delicious Korean meals you’re going to enjoy.

1: Korean food is cheap. Don’t be surprised by how much you get. However, food can get expensive, especially if you want to eat foreign foods. You’re in Korea and so I’d really recommend trying the local foods before looking for something more familiar. If you want to know more about the cost of food and other items when you travel to Korea, check out this detailed guide below:

2: Some meals will be for two or more people and will be indicated on the menu with – 2인 (2 people in Korean). If you see this, then the price is for the whole meal, not per person. This is a big sharing meal and are often much better than individual meals – check them out!

3: Sharing meals (like those found in tip 2) usually come in 3 different sizes, which are represented by traditional Chinese characters. These are as follows:

  • – small portion
  • – medium portion
  • – large portion

A small portion is usually enough for 2-3 people. Remember, the meal will usually come with side dishes, too.

4: Korea’s traditional markets and street food stalls offer some of the most amazing traditional food and are often cheaper and fresher than in a restaurant. Be sure not to miss them when you visit Seoul and other cities. Find out more about where to get great authentic Korean food in Korea below:

5: Traditional Korean meals typically come with side dishes, called banchan (반찬). These are included with the meal and if you ask for more, you can often get free refills for most of them. Don’t be surprised if you order a simple meal and end up with 10 or even 20 side dishes!

6: If your meal comes with a bowl of lettuce leaves (or cabbage), you’re probably meant to use it to wrap the other parts of the meal. Eating a Korean BBQ is a really fun experience and one of the times it’s ok to get your fingers dirty. Pick up some meat, garlic, kimchi, and whatever else you fancy, and wrap it inside the lettuce leaf and pop it into your mouth.

7: Restaurants in Korea always give you free water (sometimes iced tea). This is a great way to get free liquids during the day and is a great way to stay hydrated. Make the most of it as Korea can be hot, especially in summertime.

As with many cultures, Korean meals often come with their own set of rules that you probably won’t be aware of before visiting in Korea. If you want to learn more about these, and avoid embarrassing yourself in front of the locals, then check out my fun and useful guides to Korean etiquette and what to know before travelling to Korea.

And if you’re wondering how healthy Korean food is…

Now let’s get to these best traditional Korean dishes. Make sure you take notes for what not to miss.


What is it? Sweet, marinated beef usually cooked with sliced onions and carrots.

This is one of the most popular Korean dishes, and it's pretty straightforward to make. You don't even have to have access to a specialty Asian market to make bulgogi. Just grab some top sirloin or beef rib eye, stick in the freezer for an hour to firm it up, and slice it into thin bulgogi strips before you start cooking.


Directions:

Pan-Fried Mandoo (Korean dumplings):
In two separate bowls, generously sprinkle salt over chopped zucchini and cabbage and set aside (for at least 15 minutes) while preparing other ingredients. (This process will draw out water, soften the texture, and add flavor.) Squeeze out as much water as possible from salted zucchini and cabbage by hand. Mix all ingredients, except the wrappers and oil for frying, in a large bowl. Place a heaping teaspoonful of the filling on a wrapper. Wet the edges of the wrapper with water and fold into a half moon shape, seal tightly (pushing the air out with your fingers). Repeat this process until all the filling/wrappers are used. Heat oil (about 2 tablespoons) in large sauté pan. Place mandoo in pan and cook for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown on each side on medium-low heat. Serve hot with mandoo sauce. Makes 8 servings.

Tips for freezing:
Uncooked mandoo may be placed on a tray without touching in the freezer for one hour before storing them in a freezer bag. To cook, fry over low heat for about 4 - 5 minutes on each side or until cooked and golden brown. Frozen mandoo don't need to be thawed before being cooked.

Approximate Nutrient Analysis per pork and shrimp mandoo serving without sauce (not including salt to season vegetables):
260 calories, 13 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 65 mg cholesterol, 450 mg sodium, 25 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber, 4 g sugar, 13 g protein

Mandoo Sauce:
In a small bowl, mix all ingredients. Use as dipping sauce with mandoo. Makes 1 serving.

Approximate Nutrient Analysis per serving:
20 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 900 mg sodium, 2 g carbohydrate, 0 g fiber, 2 g sugar, 2 g protein


Modern Korean Desserts

Many of these recipes are inspired by popular street snacks in Korea, and some are modern twists of classic recipes that I’ve adapted for the home kitchen.

Bungeoppang 붕어빵 (Fish-shaped Bread with Sweet Red Bean)

Main ingredients: All-purpose flour, sweet rice flour, egg, milk, sweet red beans
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes

Sure to be a hit with the kids, Bungeoppang is made by baking a pancake-like batter in a fish-shaped mold with sweet red bean filling in the middle. The dough is slightly crispy on the outside and chewy and spongy on the inside with a burst of sweetness from the red beans.

Hotteok 호떡 (Sweet Pancake)

Main ingredients: All-purpose flour, sweet rice flour, cinnamon, walnuts
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Rest Time: 3 hours

Korean dessert pancake with a surprise! The moment you bite into this pancake, a hot cinnamony syrup oozes into your mouth. But be careful! It CAN BE HOT!! Hotteok has a delicious texture, from the chewy dough with a fried crispness on the outside to the chopped walnuts in the syrup, that will make you keep wanting more. (V)

Sweet Rice Mini Bundt Cake

Main ingredients: Brown sweet rice flour, sweet rice flour, whole milk, unsalted butter, egg, sweet red bean paste
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes

Naturally gluten-free, this sweet rice mini bundt cake recipe is a spin-off of my original Tteokppang recipe, which is an oven-baked Korean fusion dessert. What makes this cake unique is the use of sweet rice flour instead of wheat flour, and this recipe features rice flour that was freshly milled at home. (GF)

Bingsu 빙수 (Shaved Ice)

Main ingredients: Ice, sweet red beans, condensed milk
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 3 minutes

Probably the most well known of all Korean desserts outside of Korea, Bingsu or Korean shaved ice dessert will cool you down like no other. While red beans, misugaru (roasted multigrain powder), and sweetened condensed milk are the classic toppings in this Korean shaved ice dessert, you can add different toppings of your choice like watermelon. Just drizzle it with your favorite syrup to bring them all together. This is a refreshing and tasty dessert for hot, summer days!

Dalgona 달고나 (Sponge Candy)

Main ingredients: Sugar, baking soda, vegetable oil
Prep Time: 3 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes

This fun Korean street food will bring out the kid in you! All you need is three ingredients to produce a lightly crunchy yet melt-in-your-mouth candy with a toasty caramel flavor. It is unbelievably easy to make check out my Dalgona video to see the magic. (GF, V)

Makgeolli Ice Cream

Main ingredients: Makgeolli, whole milk, heavy whipping cream
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes

This elegant ice cream is light (somewhere between sorbet and full creamy ice cream) and mildly sweet with a hint of the delicate sour flavor of Korean rice wine, Makgeolli. And you don’t need an ice cream machine to make it! (GF)

May these traditional and modern Korean desserts bring joy to you and your loved ones this holiday season.

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