For the holidays I went to see my parents in lovely Portland, Oregon. When I go home I eat an entire year’s worth of Korean food in about a week. Eating bowl after bowl of my mom’s soft tofu soup is a great way to show them that after ten (!) years on the East Coast, eating God knows what (mostly tahini and broccoli, Mom) I’m still their daughter. This year my boyfriend came along, took my cue and stole their hearts by eating about a gallon of Mom’s homemade kimchi. (If anyone wants to win over Korean in-laws, just go to their house and eat all their food. Seriously.)
For our New Year’s Eve supper I requested one of my favorite dishes at home: Korean dumplings, aka mandu. She made the filling and I wrapped them up. As I mentioned in last year’s mandu post, Koreans traditionally eat a dumpling and rice cake soup on New Year’s for good luck. You can also eat the dumplings steamed by themselves and dipped in sauce (soy sauce with a bit of vinegar and toasted sesame seeds). The filling is simply seasoned, creamy and savory. They’re delicious, comforting, and oh so cute!
Mom’s Vegan Tofu Dumplings (Mandu)
about 2 dozen dumplings
1 package round wrapper (make sure to check ingredients: some brands contain eggs)
2 zucchinis, thinly julienned using a mandolin
1/2 block extra firm tofu
1/2-1 clove garlic, minced
toasted sesame seeds (gomashio), to taste
salt and pepper, to taste
10 dried shiitake mushrooms
1/2 – 1 clove garlic, minced
1 scallion, chopped
1 tsp soy sauce
salt to taste
1. In a medium bowl, place the julienned zucchinis and salt generously. Toss and then let sit for about 10 minutes to draw out all liquids. Squeeze out the water either using your hand or a cheese cloth. Set aside.
2. Drain the tofu well, place it in the center of a cheese cloth and twist gently to wring out extra water. Place the tofu block in a large bowl and crumble it using a wooden spoon or a fork. Season it with salt.
3. Add zucchini to the large bowl. Mix the tofu and zucchini together. Add toasted sesame seeds and pepper to taste. Now you’re ready to wrap!
4. Have a small bowl of filtered water handy for sealing and set up a large surface area for wrapping. Place the wrapper (make sure it’s defrosted completely, if bought frozen) in your palm. Place about 1.5 teaspoon or so of filling in the middle. Dab around the edges with water; fold the wrapper in half like a taco, then seal the ends firmly together. Then, seal the opposite corners to create a round wonton shape. Repeat this whole process until all the filling is gone.
5. Now your dumplings are complete. If you want to eat it just steamed, place in a steamer and cook until translucent. Otherwise, create a broth by rinsing the dried mushrooms then reconstituting them in warm water until fully soft. Then bring this mushroom brine + mushroom to boil, add some garlic and chopped scallions, and season to taste with soy sauce and salt. Add in the dumplings and boil until they rise to the top. Cook just a few more minutes, then take off the heat and enjoy!
Tip: wrapping the dumplings properly takes a bit of practice. Don’t worry if a few of them burst open and just put less filling in next time! If they’re not sealing well, try moistening the ends a bit more.
Do you guys love dumplings? 😀 (I do. Obviously).
More vegan Korean recipes: Vegan Japchae
Photo: Peaceful Dumpling