USHER IN THE YEAR OF THE OX WITH THESE LUCKY LUNAR NEW YEARS DUMPLINGS – KOREAN KIMCHI MANDU
The Year of The Ox is just around the corner and we’re kicking it off with our best Lunar New Year dishes. What better way to ring in my favorite time of the year than with preparing these traditional foods?
From Seollal in Korea, Chunjie in China, to Tet in Vietnam, the Lunar New Year is celebrated and centered around food, family, and good fortune. It’s a time honored tradition to adorn alters with photos of ancestors and citrus fruits, exchange red envelopes stuffed with crisp dollar bills, and late nights playing mahjong. My most treasured memories are of preparing and juggling plates filled with fish, noodles, egg rolls and rice out of bustling kitchens with generations of the real og female chefs, our mothers. As we continue to share these rituals year after year, despite the challenges we’ve faced during these uncertain times, it brings us so much joy to share these delicious dishes and memories with you.
Dumplings, one of the most popular foods to span across all cultures and asian countries, are a true labor of love. Shaped to signify family reunion and resembling gold ingots for prosperity, these heavenly pleated purses are filled with aromatics, savory meats and colorful veggies. They’re sure to bring good fortune and happiness for 2021.
Don’t feel obligated to make a scratch dough for your mind skins. Some of my best dumplings were made with egg-rich prepared wrappers found at my local asian grocer. This is an incredibly versatile recipe that can be adapted with flavors and ingredients to your taste and culture. We opted for our version of Korean Mandu with the idea of chipping down our surplus of the kimchi fermenting nicely in the back of our fridge throughout quarantine.
KOREAN KIMCHI MANDU
These pork and kimchi dumplings will be the star of Seollal and any Lunar New Year celebration.
Combine flour and water into a mixing bowl. Using a rubber spatula or chopsticks, incorporate the flour until it is loosely combined.
Using your hands, begin kneading the dough, until it becomes smooth and the surface is somewhat uniform, for approx. 10 mins. Turn the dough out onto a surface if you want to knead more thoroughly. The ball should bounce back slightly to the touch. Wrap in plastic film and let the dough rest for 30-45 mins, up to 1.5 hrs.
Dice the kimchi, or choice of vegetable such as blanched snow pea leaf, and squeeze as much excess liquid out of it as desired.
Transfer pork and filling ingredients into a large bowl. Use a spoon or your fingers to emulsify the mix in a circular motion until it looks sticky, about 3 mins. Incorporate the kimchi gently into the pork mixture. Cover and allow to marinate in the fridge until the dough is ready. The filling can also be made the night before.
If rolling by hand: Dust a working surface lightly with flour. Divide the dough into two logs, around 1.5 inches thick. Cut the log into 1.5x1.5 inch pieces, turn the cut piece cut side down and press down with the palm of your hand to flatten. Using a small rolling pin, gently roll 1/3 of the way up the disc, rotating clockwise, to flatten out the edges of the wrapper with a center slightly thicker than the outer rim. Dust each side with more flour as needed. Repeat until all the dough is rolled and keep them covered as they tend to dry out quickly. Make sure to flour between stacking the wrappers so they don't stick.
If using a pasta machine and circular cutter: Lightly dust your working surface. Divide the dough into four squares. Pass the first dough through your pasta machine set at the lowest setting, or the largest gap. Fold the dough over itself, reduce the gap one or two notches and pass the dough through once more. Reduce the gap once more until the pasta machine is set at the desired thickness, approx 1/8-1/10th of an inch. Pass the sheet once more and feed it onto the floured surface. Use a 3-4 inch cookie cutter to cut out the wrappers. Flour and stack the discs, cover until ready to use.
FOLD + SEAL
There are countless ways to fold dumplings, and one of the most simple and meaningful ways is the classic circular mandu two fold technique. It symbolizes the coming together of family with the ends of the dumplings folding together like two arms "hugging" the filling.
Holding the wrapper in the palm of your hand, place a spoonful of meat mixture in the center of the dough. Dip your opposite hand's finger tip in a small amount of water and run it across the top half of the circle wrapper. Fold it over to make a half moon shape. Gently bring together the two ends of the half moon and press them together on the opposing side of the seal. We also call this the Tortelloni fold.
Repeat until you've sealed all of the dumplings. Freeze any left over mix or dumplings you plan to save for a rainy day.
I'm a big fan of steamed dumplings, for so many reasons, from the silkier skins and juicy broth that comes from the filling. Set up a bamboo steamer or steel steamer basket with a fitted double boiler or shallow pot with boiling water. Remove the top basket and line the bottom with perforated parchment or pre-steamed cabbage/banana leafs. Place the dumplings 1 inch apart on the liner and transfer back to the pot. Place the lid on top of the basket and and steam for 5-8 mins or until the centers of the dumplings are fully cooked. If cooking from frozen, extend the time to 15-20 mins. Make the sauce while the dumplings are cooking.
Remove from the pot and keep the lid on until ready to serve.
We love to serve our dumplings straight out of the bamboo steamer, but need be, gently transfer the dumplings to a plate and serve with a small dish of sauce. Enjoy.
MAKE THE SAUCE + SERVE
Combine all sauce ingredients and stir until thoroughly combined.