Dumplings are ubiquitous around Asia, but Koreans proudly prepare their own version called mandu comparable to the Japanese gyoza and the Chinese jiaozi.

The varieties of mandu can be partitioned by filling and by cooking method. Meat tends to be the main filling in most variations, but vegetables, shrimp and kimchi all serve as alternatives. Cabbage, spring onions and tofu all play a core component in determining the flavour. Dumplings can be steamed inside bamboo steamers, boiled, pan fried or served in a broth as mandu-guk. Mandu-guk is very popular in festivals and auspicious occasions.

Dumplings, and more specifically mandu, have been a part of the Joseon royal court’s cuisine since antiquity. Experts claim that mandu, had been brought over to the peninsula by the Mongolians. But the mighty meaty dumpling was somewhat of a stark contrast to the ascetic vegetarianism of the Buddhist Goryeo dynasty. It would eventually be the first set of meat dishes that were consumed in the Goryeo dynasty since the relaxation of vegetarian laws.

Presently, the small, but mighty, mandu to play an essential role in family bonding and culture. Koreans get together with their families to wrap mandu for the Korean Lunar New Year. They serve as reminders of good fortune and symbols of new beginnings.

Taste a bite of Korean history, culture, and cuisine with Miss Korea Kitchen’s Korean dumplings