I would like to start by saying that I’m sorry that the first actual blog post came so much later than expected. Adjusting and getting comfortable in South Korea took the front seat and everything else was pushed off for a while. I am now been here for three months, meaning that I owe you and this blog atleast six blog posts. Now that my head is in the game, I will be posting fairly rapidly to make up for my (blatant) laziness. Thanks and enjoy!
Mandu, Oh Mandu
For those who don’t know, mandu are Korean dumplings. There is something so comforting and warm about a fresh, steaming dumpling when it’s cold and rainy.
“Mandu” is the general term for dumplings that can take many different forms. There are steamed ones and pan-fried ones, meat-filled and kimchi-filled, etc. In general, most dumplings I have run into were round, steamed, and filled with pork, glass noodles (made from potato starch), onions, green onions, and carrots. Of course, there was also some juicy sauce inside, but the taste of that sauce is very dependent on the place.
Personally, I really like the traditional kogi mandu (meat dumplings).
These dumplings come in different sizes: normal and wang (king-sized). The ones pictured are wang-sized and I would say they are the size of a small fist. Sometimes, I can get them fresh from my favorite supermarket. Otherwise, you can find these at specific mandu restaurants and at street carts.
There are also goon mandu, which are fried. They aren’t usually available in wang-size.
These are filled with the same pork, noodles, onions, and other vegetables with which the steamed dumplings are filled. They are simply fried (shallow-fried, I think). These have a crunchy outside from the frying that tastes nice along with the fairly soft insides of the dumpling.
[Warning to vegetarians and vegans!!! It is hard to find vegetarian food in general in South Korea, but you will be hard-pressed to find vegetarian-friendly mandu. Even the kimchi mandu sometimes have bits of pork inside. You might be able to find specialty vegetarian restaurants that might make vegetarian mandu, but it will be challenge. Best of luck!]
I will be honest. Mandu is some of my favorite Korean food. It is so simple and yet so simple. It warms my heart, both emotionally and physically (this is some snow day food). I would like to say that mandu isn’t an almost weekly occurrence for me, but I would be lying.
Thank you and please check back soon. I will be posting almost weekly to make up for the GIANT delay. Goodbye and happy eating!