Time seems to speed up this time of year as we near the holidays. In preparation, I like to make and freeze a big batch of Asian dumplings like these tofu and kimchi-filled Korean mandu. They're easy to heat up as a bite to eat between running to events and make a nice appetizer for guests, too.
This bold and savory recipe comes from my mother-in-law, who fills dumplings with a perfectly balanced mixture of tofu, cabbage kimchi, carrots, and bean sprouts, plus a little ginger and a lot of alliums – garlic, onions, leeks, scallions, the works. Toasted sesame oil and a couple of eggs bring it all together. (If you or your guests are vegetarian, make sure you make or buy kimchi without fish or shrimp.)
You can use store-bought mandu or gyoza wrappers or make your own using the recipe in Andrea Nguyen's Asian Dumplings cookbook. (The recipe is also published at CHOW; for gluten-free dough, see Andrea Nguyen's recipes at Viet World Kitchen.) Mom-in-law generally uses larger wrappers, about four-and-a-half inches in diameter, but the ones in these photos are a bit smaller. Fold the dumplings into half-moons and fry, steam, or boil in soups. I think they are really best fried, and served with a seasoned soy sauce for dipping.
Tofu Kimchi Dumplings (Korean Mandu)
Makes about 48, depending on wrappers used
For the filling: 12 ounces soybean sprouts (can substitute mung bean sprouts) 4 carrots, peeled and grated 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil, divided Salt 1 (14-ounce) block firm tofu 2 cups cabbage kimchi 2 scallions, thinly sliced 1 leek, thinly sliced 1/2 white onion, finely minced 2 tablespoons finely minced garlic 1 teaspoon finely minced ginger 1 teaspoon brown sugar 1/8 teaspoon black pepper 2 eggs, beaten
For the dumplings: 48 (4.5-inch) mandu, gyoza, or pot sticker wrappers (can substitute a larger quantity of smaller wrappers) 1 egg, beaten Toasted sesame oil Yangnyeomjang - Korean Seasoning Sauce for dipping
Boil the bean sprouts with 1 cup of water until tender, about 15 minutes. Rinse under cold water and squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Coarsely chop and squeeze out any excess liquid.
While the bean sprouts are boiling, prepare the carrots, tofu, and kimchi.
Sautée the carrots with 1 teaspoon of sesame oil and a pinch of salt until tender, about 2 minutes.
Place the tofu in a cheesecloth or dish towel and squeeze out the excess liquid.
Coarsely chop the kimchi and squeeze out the excess liquid. (Don't let the kimchi juice go to waste; save it for soups, marinades, or sauces.)
In a mixing bowl, combine the bean sprouts, carrots, tofu, kimchi, scallions, leek, onion, garlic, ginger, brown sugar, black pepper, a pinch of salt, and the remaining teaspoon of sesame oil. Mix and mash together (hands work best), taste, and adjust seasonings if necessary. Add the 2 beaten eggs and mix well.
To assemble the dumplings, place about 1 tablespoon of filling in the center of each wrapper. (Make sure not to overfill, or the dumplings may leak in cooking.) Dip your fingertip in the beaten egg and trace the edge of the wrapper. Fold the wrapper over to make a half-circle and pinch the edges together to seal.
To fry the dumplings, heat a little sesame oil in a pan over low heat. Working in batches, place the dumplings in a single layer in the pan, cover, and fry until golden on the bottom. Turn the dumplings over, add 1 teaspoon of cold water to the pan, and cover tightly. Continue cooking until golden on the other side. Serve with yangnyeomjang (Korean seasoning sauce) for dipping.
Dumplings can also be steamed or boiled in soups.
To freeze, place uncooked dumplings in a single layer on a tray and freeze until firm. Turn the dumplings over and return to the freezer until completely frozen, then transfer to an airtight container or bag.