Mandu – Korean-Style Potstickers with Ssamjang / Kochujang Sauce – Recipe

Vegetarian Mandu (Korean potstickers)
Vegetarian Mandu (Korean potstickers)

I never grow tired of potstickers, but I thought it might be time to branch out from my standard recipe. My friend Hsiao-Ching had told me about about a sauce from the Momofuku cookbook involving kochujang, ssamjang (two standard Korean kitchen staples), oil, and sherry vinegar. So that put me onto the idea of Korean-style potstickers, and sure enough, there are many kinds.

The generic name for Korean dumplings is mandu (sometimes spelled mandoo); when they are panfried, they become gunmandu. And apparently vegetarian dumplings would be somandu. [Any Korean speakers out there want to comment on exactly the right name for today's recipe?]

The filling I used is a combination of tofu, tempeh, blanched bean sprouts, green onion, and egg, seasoned with soy sauce and sesame oil. This is the first time I’ve used egg in a filling and I really enjoyed the results. it binds the whole interior into a slightly fluffy but firm bite. Tempeh is not a traditional Korean ingredient but I find it adds a great toothsome quality to vegetarian dumplings.

To form the dumplings I used this cheap, simple little dumpling press (or try this one) for the first time. Life changing event. In the past, I’ve always had trouble getting those pretty little pleats and a perfect seal. Now it is child’s play. Literally – my kiddo made a bunch of them and they turned out perfect. Hsiao-Ching said that I need a dumpling lesson, and rightly so. It would be much more satisfying to learn the traditional skill. But in the meantime, I’m pretty psyched about the press!

You’ll need either a Korean grocery or a well stocked general Asian grocery (such as Uwajimaya in the Seattle or Bay Area) to find kochujang and ssamjang. They are delicious and well worth searching out. Since I’ve picked them up, I use them in everything. I also used black vinegar instead of sherry vinegar in the sauce, so you might want to get that as well. It has a slight five-spice flavor that I love.

Mandu – Korean-Style Potstickers with Ssamjang / Kochujang Sauce
Makes about 40 dumplings (which in my family serves 4-5, but we are greedy)
Vegetarian

For the sauce:

  • 1/4 cup kochujang
  • 1/3 cup ssamjang
  • 1/3 cup black vinegar
  1. Whisk together all ingredients. Add water as needed to reach a dipping sauce consistency. Taste and add more vinegar if desired.

For the mandu (potstickers):

  • 1 cup mung bean sprouts
  • 1 cup extra firm tofu
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil, divided
  • 8 ounce tempeh
  • 4 green onions, white and light green parts, sliced thin
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup tamari (soy sauce)
  • 4 teaspoons Asian (toasted) sesame oil
  • 2 egg, beaten
  • 1 package (around 40) potsticker wrappers – I prefer the kind labeled “thick”
  1. Blanch the mung bean sprouts in a small pot of boiling, salted water for 1 minute. Drain, chop roughly, and squeeze out as much moisture as possible using a clean kitchen towel. Crumble the tofu and squeeze the water out of it as well.
  2. Slice the tempeh into thin slabs and pan fry in 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil until golden brown on both sides. Crumble.
  3. Thoroughly combine the bean sprouts, tofu, tempeh, green onions, garlic, tamari and sesame oil. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Then mix in the beaten eggs.
  4. To form the dumplings, take a wrapper and put about 2 teaspoons of filling in the center. Moisten the edge, fold, and seal firmly. Optionally, you can pinch to form pleats. Or use the dumpling press I mentioned above. Do not overfill, it will make it impossible to get a tight seal.
  5. To fry the dumplings, heat a large skillet over a medium high flame. Add 2 tablepoons of oil, then put in about 1/3 of the dumplings, pleats pointing up. Press down a little to create a flat spot. Be sure the dumplings aren’t touching. Fry for about 60-90 seconds until golden brown on the bottom. Carefully add in about 3 tablespoons of water, lower the heat, and put on the lid. Cook about 3 minutes. Remove the lid, cook off any excess water, and then remove the dumplings with a spatula. Repeat with the remaining dumplings.
  6. Serve immediately with the dipping sauce on the side.

 

 

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Posted by Michael Natkin on Friday, June 18th, 2010 in Appetizers, Kid Friendly, Recipes.

18 Responses to “Mandu – Korean-Style Potstickers with Ssamjang / Kochujang Sauce – Recipe”

  1. pds
    June 18, 2010 at 7:53 am #

    There are lots of great youtube videos on how to pleat dumplings. I watched several and learned right away. I’ve been practicing for a year now, making dumplings every other month or so, and have gotten quite fast. It’s worth it.

  2. June 18, 2010 at 8:13 am #

    For those in NYC, I have seen dumpling presses at M2M on 3rd ave between 10th and 11th. One thing I’ve noticed with mandoo, however, is that the wrapper/skin tends to be thicker than other dumplings–which I think sets mandoo apart. Do you have any suggestions for brand that has a thicker wrapper, or perhaps a recipe for one?

  3. June 18, 2010 at 8:50 am #

    Oooh, I love mandoo. All the ones I’ve ever had seem to be very oniony, and that sets them apart from the Chinese ones. Do you think your recipe would work with all tempeh? I don’t eat tofu.

  4. June 18, 2010 at 9:38 am #

    These look excellent! we have become obsessed with Andrea Nguyen’s dumplings. In fact, the last time we made them, we served them alongside the momofuku bo ssam! You have to try the ginger scallion sauce–it’s to die for.

  5. June 18, 2010 at 11:01 am #

    mmm! I am so intrigued! I have the momofuku book, but haven’t made this sauce yet – and your dumplings sound spectacular!!

  6. June 18, 2010 at 5:02 pm #

    when i read that your daughter was a whizz at the press, I really thought about getting one. we are on a spending freeze for a while, but it is on my list. These are just very yum.

  7. hanna
    June 18, 2010 at 9:41 pm #

    any mandu that’s pan-fried will be called gunmandu, so i’d probably just call these dooboo somandu, which is literally “tofu, veggie-stuffedmandu” or somandu.

    I suppose that you could put the word for fried before all of that and end up with something like gun dooboo somandu.

    if interested, one of the most common somandu recipes involves the use of tofu and minari (link to en.wikipedia.org). This is definitely one of my favorite types of mandu!

  8. Michael Natkin
    June 21, 2010 at 8:03 pm #

    Hey – thanks for your comment! I do use a brand that is labeled "extra thick" but I haven't noticed the name. I'll try and remember to notice next time I go to get them.

    Thanks,
    Michael

  9. Michael Natkin
    June 21, 2010 at 8:04 pm #

    Yep, this will absolutely work with all tempeh! See also the alternative recipe linked at the top of the article.

  10. Michael Natkin
    June 21, 2010 at 8:17 pm #

    Hanna, thanks so much for the great information!

  11. June 28, 2010 at 10:40 pm #

    looks delicious, funny how they look exactly like kreplach, my all time favorite Polish food.

  12. September 2, 2010 at 2:25 pm #

    ahhhh i want that new toy i mean dumpling press so baddd!!!!! “none available” on amazon…guess i’ll browse around on ebay

  13. Michael Natkin
    September 2, 2010 at 2:40 pm #

    Try this one, it should be about the same, and equally cheap: link to amzn.to

  14. Miles
    October 12, 2012 at 12:48 pm #

    Sorry to bring this topic back up after so long, but do you have a preferred place/brand for gochujang in Seattle? I looked around and could only find ones where the first ingredient is corn syrup. Are there some more natural ones around here?

    • October 12, 2012 at 1:14 pm #

      Hi Miles – I don’t have a box near me (I’m at a coffee shop right now), but I’m pretty sure the one I buy at Uwajimaya in the red tub doesn’t have corn syrup as the first ingredient! I’m sure it is on there somewhere, but the top few ingredients should certainly be soybeans, chilis and wheat. Oh, here’s a pic of the box I managed to google: link to meilengloh.com

  15. Peggy
    December 26, 2012 at 7:12 am #

    I grew up with mandu and gochujang. I wouldn’t get too hung up on the brand, but I agree: do look at the ingredients. Gochujang comes either in plastic tubs or glass jars: buy the container you prefer that has a product with ingredients that seem reasonable to you.

  16. Michelle
    January 31, 2013 at 12:43 pm #

    Dumpling press has arrived! Mandu making happening this weekend.
    I’m curious if anyone has tried these out in a soup. How long would I simmer them for? Should I steam them first? I’m thinking they might be outta this world with Michael’s Umami-Packed Broth…add a little of the kochujang sauce.

    • January 31, 2013 at 12:48 pm #

      I haven’t, but I like your thought process! I’d even consider pan-frying them first to develop flavor, then adding them to soup at last minute to preserve a bit of crisp. If you try it, let us know how it turns out!

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