Homemade Mandu (Korean Dumplings)
Mandu are delicious Korean dumplings filled with pork, cabbage, chives and Korean glass noodles. This homemade mandu recipe will help you make juicy dumplings from scratch with these step-by-step instructions.
When it comes to Lunar New Year traditions in Korea, you can’t skip homemade Korean dumplings (Mandu, 만두) as a part of a New Year celebration. These dumplings are filled with juicy meats and vegetables. Taking a bite is truly satisfying and enjoyable experience.
What is Mandu?
Mandu (만두) are Korean dumplings filled with a different types of savory filling called “So (소)” and folded in different patterns. The style of mandu vary across regions in Korea. The most typical fillings are consist of meat (usually pork), garlic chives, and vegetables. Steam, deep fry, pan fry, or boil these dumplings and dip them in the mandu sauce to enjoy.
You can also use these mandu dumplings to create Korean mandu soup (mandu-guk, 만두국) for the New Year celebration, or turn them into panfry mandu (gun mandu, 군만두).
Although Kimchi Tofu Pork Mandu (김치만두) is one of the most well known mandu dumplings in Korea, people also like to fill their mandu with a variety of fillings. These are made with ground pork, cabbage, chives, leek, and Korean sweet potato noodles (dangmyun, 당면).
Can’t have pork or meat?
For vegetarian mandu recipe, just omit the pork in the filling, which will easily turn into vegetable mandu (yachae mandu, 야채만두)
Korean Lunar Year Tradition
My childhood memories of Lunar New Year are filled with helping my mother preparing Rice Cake Soup – the must have Korean New Year dish – and other Korean Lunar New Year foods to celebrate. These Korean pork dumplings are one of them. I recall that she tried a different filling for her mandu every year.
Making homemade mandu is a wonderful family activity that brings joy and happiness during the Lunar New Year. Since my father was the heir in his family lineage, all of his siblings including my uncles, aunts, and cousins, came to our house to celebrate the Lunar New Year together.
Imagine a scene of family members gathered around the table working with their hands to make delicious dumplings together to celebrate the new beginning of a year. After all, these dumplings are believed to bless you and your family.
These dumplings are one of the authentic Korean recipes that you can enjoy every year. If you would like a variety of mandu recipe, my cookbook, Korean Cooking Favorites, shares a recipe for steamed buns. So check it out.
Homemade Korean Dumplings
Making homemade mandu has two components; dumpling wrappers and the filling.
1. Dumpling wrappers (mandu pi, 만두피)
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.
2. Dumpling filling (Mandu-sok,만두속)
Traditional Korean dumplings are made with minced pork. Its mild yet juicy flavor and texture mingles well with any vegetables you add. Chopped sour kimchi, mung bean sprouts, and tofu are typical filling ingredients to go with pork.
I recommend using slightly fatty ground pork for the filling, about 80/20 meat to fat ratio. The fat makes the filling juicy and tender. Pork that is too lean yields a dry texture — you don’t want that.
How to make mandu from scratch
Ingredients for Mandu filling: ground pork, nappa cabbage, Asian chives, Asian leek (or green onion), Korean glass noodles (dangmyun).
Step 1. Sprinkle 1 tsp salt on the chopped cabbage and let it soak for 10 minutes. When the cabbage becomes lifeless, squeeze it out to get rid of moisture.
Step 2. Chop chives and leeks finely. If you can’t find Asian chives, increase the amount of green onion.
Step 3. Boil Korean glass noodles according to the package directions, about 6-7 minutes. Rinse in cold water and drain well. Chop into small pieces.
Step 4. Put pork, cabbage, chives, leek, and noodles in a large mixing bowl. Season with soy sauce, sweet rice wine, ginger, sesame oil, and pepper; mix well with your hand until all the ingredients are well incorporated.
How to fold homemade dumplings
My mother used to say if you can fold a pretty mandu, you will have a good looking son. If you can make Korean sweet rice cakes (songpyeon) into a perfect shape, you will have a pretty daughter.
I think she was right! I do have a good looking son and a pretty daughter.
There are so many different shapes and patterns of folding dumplings. Here are the two of the most popular and easy.
1. Half moon shape
Half moon shaped dumplings are the most common in Korean dumplings. This shape is perfect for steaming and making soup. If you are thinking of making Korean dumpling soup, use this shape.
- Put a heaping tablespoon of filling in the middle of wrapper, wet the edges of wrapper with water using your finger.
- Fold the wrapper in half and pinch the edges together.
- Bring the both ends toward the center.
- Pinch the ends together to complete.
2. Pleated shape
Pleated shape is a great option for both steamed and pan fried dumplings. If you have never folded dumplings before, try with a small amount of filling inside first.
- Put some filling in the middle of the wrapper and wet the edges with water using your finger.
- Bring one edge to the other and pinch in the center first, then make a small pleat on one side facing toward the center .
- Continue to make more pleats, usually about 4 pleats.
- Create the same number of pleats on the other side, facing the pleats toward the center.
How to steam dumplings
- Bring a small amount of water in a large pot to boil. (Make sure the bottom of your steamer doesn’t touch the water.)
- Place dumplings without touching each other in a bamboo steamer (or regular steamer), lined with a cheese cloth or a steam liner.
- When the water boils, place the steamer over or in the pot.
- Cover and steam for 5 minutes.
How to panfry dumplings
- Heat a pan on medium-high with a couple tablespoons of oil in it.
- Working in batches, add dumplings (either fresh or frozen) in a single layer and cook until bottoms begin to brown, about 3-4 minutes.
- Then add some water, about 3-4 tablespoon to create a steam. Turn the heat down to medium-low, and cover with a tight-fitting lid.
- Once the water has evaporated, it should take about 3 minutes for the bottoms of your dumplings to become crispy and brown. Remove the dumplings and serve.
To make fried mandu: heat a generous amount of oil in a skillet over medium heat, and fry mandu until all sides are golden brown and crisp. Watch out for any oil splash while frying.
Mandu dipping Sauce
Korean mandu dipping sauce is made with 2 parts soy sauce, 1 part vinegar, and 1-2 teaspoon of Korean chili flakes (gochugaru). Mix all together in a small bowl and serve with hot dumplings.
How to freeze dumplings
It is always a good idea to make abundant homemade mandu because they freeze beautifully. Make sure to sprinkle flour on a large tray so that the mandu won’t stick to the tray.
Place mandu pieces on the tray without touching each other. Freeze for an hour or until they are frozen solid. Transfer mandu pieces to a freezer bag. They can last up to 3 months in the freezer.
More Korean New Year Recipes
Here are a few of the Korean New Year recipes that you can use for New Year or Lunar New Year celebration.
Homemade Mandu (Korean Dumplings)
- 40 large dumpling wrappers, about 5-inch diameter
For mandu filling
To make the mandu filling
- Chop napa cabbage finely and put it in a mixing bowl. Sprinkle 1 tsp salt and toss together; let it sit for 10 minutes. When the cabbage becomes lifeless, squeeze it out to get rid of moisture.
- Boil Korean sweet potato noodles according to the package directions, about 6-7 minutes. Rinse in cold water and drain well. Chop into small pieces.
- Put pork, cabbage, chives, leeks, and noodles in a large mixing bowl. Season with soy sauce, sweet rice wine, ginger, sesame oil, and pepper; mix well with your hand until all the ingredients are well incorporated.
To shape half moon dumplings
- Put a heaping tablespoon of filling in the middle of wrapper, wet the edges of wrapper with water using your finger. Fold the wrapper in half and pinch the edges together. Bring the both ends toward the center. Pinch the ends together to complete.
To shape pleated dumplings
- Put some filling in the middle of the wrapper and wet the edges with water using your finger. Bring one edge to the other and pinch in the center first, then make a small pleat on one side facing toward the center. Continue to make more pleats, usually about 4 pleats. Create the same number of pleats on the other side, facing the pleats toward the center.
To steam the mandu (dumplings)
- Bring a small amount of water in a large pot to boil. Make sure the bottom of your steamer doesn't touch the water. Place mandu without touching each other in a bamboo steamer (or regular steamer), lined with a cheese cloth or a steam liner. When the water boils, place the steamer over or in the pot. Cover and steam for 5 minutes. Serve immediately.
- Meanwhile, make dipping sauce to go with dumplings. Combine all the sauce ingredients and drizzle it over dumplings.