MY KOREAN KITCHEN: YAKI MANDU

The first time I tasted Yaki Mandu, I had no idea what to expect. Jared and I were eating dinner at a tiny restaurant close to our house, and the owner gave us a plate of this snack food on the house. I was immediately hooked and knew that I had to try to make some on my own.

Yaki Mandu IngredientsMandu means dumpling in Korean; they are either eaten on their own or included in a soup. I couldn’t find a clear answer on what “yaki” means, but from what I can determine it refers to the cooking style of grilling. At least, that’s what it means in Japan (like the delicious okonomiyaki we had in Kyoto); since Japan has had a influence on Korean culture, I wouldn’t be surprised that the term was borrowed from the Japanese. Regardless of what the term means, these little treats are delicious. They are stuffed with meat, tofu, onions, and seasonings; then fried to a golden brown and served with a sauce for dipping.

I could not find a recipe that I was completely satisfied with. I really didn’t want 30 different ingredients or to spend 8 hours slow roasting meat. So I consulted three cookbooks and multiple websites before concocting my own version. I relied most heavily on Debbie Lee’s Seoultown Kitchen cookbook, and this recipe from maangchi.com. (I will definitely be visiting her website more in the future!)

As I created this from various recipes and advice, it is not perfect. I felt that on their own my mandu were a little bland, but tasted very good with the dipping sauce. They are not nearly as good as mandu I have had in restaurants, but some foods never are. I think this recipe could easily be played around with by using different meat, vegetables, and spices. I will definitely add more spice next time- paprika? red pepper?

Yaki Mandu (yield 20 dumplings)

    Yaki Mandu Mixture
  • 1 Pound Ground Beef (could easily substitute ground pork, or half pork, half beef)
  • 1/2 Package of Tofu (8 ounces)
  • 1/8 Cup Chopped Mushrooms
  • 1/2 Onion, Chopped
  • 1/2 Cup Green Onions, Chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon Minced Garlic
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 Teaspoon White Pepper
  • Soy Sauce
  • Sesame Oil
  • 1 Teaspoon Sugar
  • 20 Mandu Skins (or Wonton Wrappers)
  • Vegetable Oil

Mix meat, salt, white pepper, and 1 Tablespoon Sesame Oil by hands in a large bowl.

Chop green onions, and place them in a small bowl. Coat the onions with 1 teaspoon of sesame oil, and mix well. Add green onions to meat mixture.

Yaki Mandu Onion Chop mushrooms and onions; place in a small bowl. Mix in 1 teaspoon soy sauce, 2 teaspoons sesame oil, and 1 teaspoon of sugar. Add to meat mixture.

Squeeze tofu with paper towel to remove excess water. Mix with a pinch of salt and a teaspoon of sesame oil before adding it to the meat mixture.

Add two eggs, garlic, and whatever other spices tickle your fancy to the mixture and stir all ingredients together. This is your mandu filling!

Crack the remaining egg into a small bowl and mix together yolk and egg white. This will be used to seal your dumplings. (You can use water instead of egg to seal if you prefer). Place one wrapper on a flat surface and spoon mandu filling into the center. Depending on the shape (circle or square) and size of your wrappers, determine the best way to seal your dumplings. Smaller wrappings may simply be pinched together and brushed with the egg mixture. Larger wrappings, like mine, may need to be folded to create a smaller, tighter dumpling. I started from one side and made a small fold in, the layered folds on top of each other until the filling was completely enclosed. Brush seams with egg mixture.

Yaki Mandu_

Place all the dumplings on a baking sheet covered in parchment paper. Make sure the dumplings are not touching. Place the dumplings in the freezer from 20-30 minutes to help them retain their shape while frying.

Add enough vegetable oil to cover the bottom of your pan. I used my electric skillet, but stove top frying will work just as well. Heat the oil to medium high. Place 10-12 dumplings in your pan and sear on one side. Once they are golden brown, turn them over and add 3-4 Tablespoons of water. Cover the skillet and reduce heat to low. Allow the dumplings to steam until the water has evaporated. Continue to cook until both sides are browned. Transfer to serving platter, and cook remaining dumplings.

Yaki Mandu FryingTo create the dipping sauce, combine equal parts vinegar and soy sauce. Serve the mandu while it is still hot.

If 20 dumplings is too many for your family, you may freeze some of the dumplings and then fry them at a later time.

Although I am enjoying trying the Korean recipes, I don’t feel that my creations are quite as satisfying as the originals I taste on the street or in restaurants. I am still happy to keep trying and adapting the recipes to fit my style. I find Korean food severely lacking in the cheese department, and may need to figure out how to incorporate that favorite food into these recipes. Perhaps a grilled cheese mandu fusion?

AUGUST: 31 PICTURES IN 31 DAYS
A DAY WITH NO PLAN

14 Comments

  1. Reply
    justusreds 30 August, 2013

    Yum yum yum. These look great. I love that you found and use maangchi.com, we’ve used her recipes for lots of things. Especially the side dishes to Korean BBQ at home. I wasn’t even hungry, but now I want some mandu. Well done friend.

    • Reply
      Bethany 31 August, 2013

      I love her site! She uses ingredients that are easier to find!

  2. Reply
    Maria @ Craft Crazy Mom 30 August, 2013

    I love the picture you used for the featured image. It’s way late and I need to go to bed (so I won’t be a zombie in the morning), but I’m sure I’ll be dreaming of mandu now.

    • Reply
      Bethany 31 August, 2013

      Mandu dreams are the best. I have to give credit to my husband for all the pictures on this post though. He usually does the recipe photos for me- it makes cooking a lot easier if I’m not constantly playing with my camera!

  3. Reply
    japakok 31 August, 2013

    Yummy. I just stumbled onto your blog. Isn’t yaki deep fried? Gun mandu would be pan fried, jiin mandu are steamed, and mul mandu are boiled. Maybe …

    • Reply
      Bethany 31 August, 2013

      Oh you may be right! I couldn’t find the specific meaning of “yaki,” and the recipes I consulted all used pan frying. I need to study up on my Korean cooking vocabulary! And thanks for visiting!

  4. Reply
    Sara 12 March, 2014

    Great Recipe ! Thank you :)….I live in South Korea with my family due to the Army….here they have KATUSA which are ROK army soldiers that work side by side with the U.S military….on Armed forces Network one of the KATUSA that is a cook at the dining facility did an interesting interview.on the background of Yaki Mandu…..He said it comes in many variations including ingredients and cooking style as we all know…but the name itself is a hybrid ….Yaki mandu was introduced to Korea by the Japanese when thet took over….Mandu is korean for dunpling….Yaki is Japanese for Vegetabe…..of course not all Yaki Mandu is purely vegetable but apparently th original version was….so thats what ‘Yaki’ stands for in Yaki Mandu :) ….thought the interview was super exciting so I would share

  5. Reply
    Sara 12 March, 2014

    Oh yes :) ….I know that Yakialso stands for a cooking style….but according to the KATUSA , back when Mandu was first introduced it stood for Vegetable and not a cooking style :)

  6. Reply
    Bethany 12 March, 2014

    Thanks for the information, Sara! I love that the name is a mix of languages; it really shows the history of this country. Now I want some yaki mandu!

  7. Reply
    Anonymous 12 March, 2015

    Thank you for this recipe. I was stationed on the DMZ (Camp Liberty Bell) in 91-92. I didn’t get to enjoy the country as much as others because I had to get passes to leave the DMZ. When I did I would head to Seoul. I remember getting fresh Yaki Mandu from the street vendors. THE BEST. I’ll be making some of this this week. Just wish I could get a recipe for Buk Doki (sp?). Will enjoy this with my Nong Shim Raymun and some Soju. Thanks again.

    • Reply
      Bethany 12 March, 2015

      Thank you for your service! I hope the recipe lives up to your memories. Street food is always the best food!

  8. Reply
    Anonymous 3 July, 2015

    Thanks. I spent time in Korea and have made them since. I cook the filling before using. I use wonton skins as that is what I can find where I am. I put some sesame oil in the regular cooking oil and fry on both sides until crispy. I also put sesame oil in the dipping sauce. Addictive little triangles!

    • Reply
      Bethany 7 July, 2015

      I like the idea of mixing the sesame oil in; I’ll try that next time!

  9. Reply
    Jeff Gray 21 August, 2017

    I was stationed in Seoul in 74-75 and just left the country loving the food and the people. It’s a real pleasure to finally find a place where I can find recipes. I make it and my family loves it. I’m no cook by any stretch of the imagination but if you want something sometimes you have to do it yourself! 😊

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