Mandu (만두)

Last week my son and I made homemade mandu for the first time. When preparing for our son’s Dol we found a brand of frozen mandu that we loved. And for four years, it’s been a staple in our house. But a couple of months ago when we went to buy another bag, the store no longer had it. Since then we’ve tried a couple of different brands but nothing is as good as our original. So I decided to make some and see how it stood up.

The result: Yum! And while it takes a little time to do all of the chopping, it’s not hard at all. And our son had a great time creating very unique mandu shapes that are all his own.

I basically combined three different recipes to come up with the one I’m sharing here. I used the recipe at Eating and Living for the seasonings. You can find that recipes here: The other ingredients I decided on by looking at a few different recipes and picking what we liked.

1 package won ton wrappers (ours were square; traditionally they are round)
1 zucchini, finely chopped
2 carrots, grated (I used six baby carrots)
3 green onions, chopped
1/2 c. kimchi, chopped
1-2 handfuls of mung beans, blanched and chopped
1/4 package of glass/cellophane noodles, cooked and chopped
1/2 lb. ground beef/pork/turkey, browned (optional)
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. ginger, grated or minced
1 Tbsp. sesame oil
1 egg
1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1/2 to 1 tsp. salt to season the filling; more for salting vegetables
1/2 tsp. pepper

1. Set chopped zucchini aside in salt water to draw out water for about 15 minutes while you chop the other ingredients.
2. Once you’ve drained the zucchini well, combined all of the ingredients in a large bowl. It’s easiest to use your hands to mix this up.
3. Place a spoonful of filling in a wrapper.
4. Wet the edges of the wrapper with water to help them stick together. Repeat until all wrappers are filled.

We pan fry our mandu, which I’ve just learned from Eating and Living is called “gun mandu.” To cook them this way, heat vegetable oil in a skillet. Cook mandu three-four minutes each side until golden brown.

Our first batch made 48 mandu, with additional filling left over. Mandu can be frozen. Just place the dumplings on a cookie sheet so they aren’t touching, and put in the freezer for an hour or two. Once they are frozen, you can place them in a freezer bag. I’ve read that you must thaw mandu before cooking, but we’ve never done that. We just cook from frozen and cook it a little longer on each side.


Update: Mu Guk (무국)

Well, after months of practice and trying several different recipes, my son says I’ve finally perfected my 무국 (mu guk) recipe. For him that means it tastes close to dish served at our favorite Korean restaurant. While I blogged about mu guk in May (a post in which I linked to three different recipes), I thought I’d share the recipe I now use for this dish.

Korean radish

1/2 or 1 Korean radish (daikon)
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
5 c. chicken broth
5 c. water
2-3 green onions, chopped
2 Tbsp. soup soy sauce (국간장)

1. Slice radish in squares about 1/2-inch thick.
2. In a large pot, saute the radish and minced garlic in sesame oil for about five minutes.
3. Add broth and water, bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer until radish is tender. (Our family likes the radish really tender so we let the soup simmer for about 30 minutes.)
4. Once radish is tender, add green onion and let cook another minute.
5. Stir in soup soy sauce.

Serve with rice and banchan.

Eating and Living

It’s been a while since I’ve shared anything new about food so here’s a blog I love. It’s

This one’s been on the right-side column of my blog for a while, but I don’t think I’ve ever featured it. The blogger is a Korean-American mom who blogs as a way to share favorite recipes with her grown children. The photos are wonderful and the recipes are easy to follow.

Personally I’m looking forward to trying the Kimchi Fried Rice recipe. It’s not one I would have considered a few months ago, but my taste for kimchi is growing. And thanks to kimchi jeon (not homemade as yet), even my husband is beginning to warm up to kimchi. Our son thus far hasn’t developed a taste for kimchi, although he does eat a few bites of kimchi jeon each time we order it. Eating and Living has a recipe for kimchi jeon too, so maybe I’ll have to give that one a try too.


Just Thanksgiving in the U.S. would be right without turkey or pumpkin pie, Chuseok wouldn’t be the same without 송편 (songpyeon), or half-moon shaped rice cakes.  

This traditional Chuseok foods is filled with different types of sweet or semi-sweet fillings, including sesame seeds and honey or sweet red bean paste. Then the rice cakes are steamed over a layer of pine needles (yes, just like the ones on the pine tree in your front yard).

If you’re feeling adventerous, you can make songpyeon using the recipe found at the Korea Tourism site: Or you can usually find songpyeon already made at your local Korean market.

I had songpyeon for the first time this past Sunday at a Chuseok celebration put on by one of our local Korean churches. It was yummy! But I must admit that since my son doesn’t like them, I cheat and make Rice Krispy Treats in the shape of half-moons instead.

But even if songpyeon doesn’t sound like something you’d enjoy, you can still enjoy a Korean feast on Chuseok. Other dishes commonly served at Chuseok are: soup, fish, jap chae, fruit, and rice.

Today I’ll share a Web site I’ve stumbled on several times. It’s Here you’ll find recipes, some cultural notes and information, and even some K-drama recommendations.

This site is put together by an American man whose wife is of Korean descent. He says the site is an attempt to convert the “a little of this, a little of that” style of Korean cooking that his wife and mother-in-law do to something just about anyone can follow.

The site had recipes for banchan, main dishes, royal dishes, and even fusion dishes. It’s definitely one to check out next time you’re in the mood for a new recipe.

Samgyetang, Ginseng chicken soup

Since sambok requires that you eat nutritious food to fight the heat, I thought I’d direct you to a recipe for samgyetang (ginseng chicken soup). I haven’t tried this one yet. So I thought I’d direct you to Maangchi’s site since she includes videos, which are helpful when making a dish for the first time.

Here’s the link: I’ll do an update once our family has tried this one.

Update: Gungjung Tteokbokki (궁중 떡볶이)

In April I blogged about this dish as part of my focus on the royal cuisine of Korea. But at that point I hadn’t tried to make the dish yet. Now I have and I highly recommend it; it’s become a family favorite. If you remember that post, you know that today tteokbokki is known as a spicy rice cake dish that you can get from street vendors in Korea. But the original version, gungjung tteokbokki, that was served to the royal court was seasoned with soy sauce.

Just FYI, the first time I made this dish I tried the recipe on the link I provided in April. And while it tasted delicious, it seemed very time-consuming. So the next time I tried it, I used a variation of the recipe found in Quick and Easy Korean Cooking by Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee. And it was quick and easy! The version she includes is the spicy version, but Lee notes that with a couple of adjustments you can make the non-spicy version. Here’s how I make it:

half bag (3/4 lb.) cylinder rice cakes (the bag I buy is 1.5 lb.)
4 sheets of fish cake, cut into strips
carrots, cut into match sticks
onion, sliced
green onions, chopped
any other vegetable you family likes (such as bean sprouts)
1 Tbsp. canola oil
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. sesame oil
1 Tbsp. mool yut (Korean malt syrup) or sugar

If rice cakes are frozen, soak in cold water for at least one hour. Heat canola oil in large skillet then add your vegetables, all except the green onion. Stir fry until veggies are tender. Add fish cake, rice cakes (drained), and all of your seasonings. (Note: The rice cakes will still be very hard when you put in them in pan. That’s OK. They’ll soften during cooking.) Stir fry about five minutes; check tenderness of rice cakes. If they haven’t soften, lower the temperature and cover to steam them a little. Once rice cakes are tender, add green onion and cook for a couple of minutes. Garnish with sesame seeds.

While this dish is often consumed as a snack in Korea, we make it as our main dish and eat it with rice and some dishes.

Kimchi Jeon (김치전)

I think I’ve mentioned that we aren’t the biggest fans of baechu kimchi (traditional cabbage kimchi). I’m beginning to acquire the taste, but my husband and son aren’t on board yet. So I met some resistance when I wanted to try kimchi jeon, basically a kimchi pancake, during a recent visit to our favorite Korean restaurant. Finally they gave in and guess what? They loved it.

After having it a couple of times now at the restaurant, I’ve decided kimchi jeon is a great introduction to the flavor of kimchi. It has the taste of Korea’s most common dish, but isn’t served cold. My husband isn’t a huge fan of cabbage to begin with so I don’t think serving it cold or at room temperature helps. The kimchi jeon is crispy and spicy, but even our little guy likes it. Beware though, if you have leftovers it will get spicier each day it waits in the frig.

I haven’t tried making it at home yet. Since we don’t eat kimchi regularly, we don’t have any just sitting around. But I’m planning to get some just so I can make kimchi jeon. I found several recipes for the dish. The links to two of those recipes are below. Maangchi also has a recipe on her site.

A Typical Korean Meal

Instead of a recipe or cookbook, I decided that today I would blog about typical Korean meals. What types of dishes are included? How are they served?

While in America we have foods that are typically served for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Korean cuisine is more universal. Most meals consist of rice, soup/stew, and various banchan. Korean cooks try to use five colors–red, green, yellow, white, and black–in every meal.

Banchan (반찬) is the word for the numerous side dishes that are served as part of a Korean meal. At least one, but usually more, of these dishes is a type of kimchi. At our favorite restaurant, about five banchan will be served for lunch and more like seven or eight with dinner. But I’ve read that in Korean homes, somewhere between three to five banchan are served. The traditional Napa kimchi is always included, but usually there is also radish kimchi and often cucumber kimchi too. Banchan are to be shared by everyone at the table, which is why it’s rude to pick through the food. That would seem as if you’re trying to find the best pieces for yourself.

Every diner will have his own rice bowl (the contents of which is eaten with the spoon, remember?). The rice bowl is generally placed on the diner’s left. The type of rice that’s served is short grain, which makes it sticky when cooked. Yum!

Korean meals are not served in courses. All of the food is placed on the table at the same time. Soup also plays a big part in Korean cuisine and is often the main dish. Even if soup isn’t a main dish, a type of soup is usually served and is placed on the diner’s right. And dessert isn’t a big part of Korean cuisine; instead fresh fruit is usually served.

If you’d like to read more, I’ll provide you with a couple of sites that will provide you more information. This site provides a lot of information about Korean meals: One blog that tells more about food is You can also preview the cookbook Flavours of Korea by Marc and Kim Millon. Marc learned Korean cooking from his mother and grandmother, according to the write-up I read, and includes more than just recipes in the book. You’ll find the preview here:

Dok Suni–The Cookbook

The best way to regularly enjoy Korean food is to prepare it yourself. And Jenny Kwak’s Dok Suni: Recipes from My Mother’s Korean Kitchen cookbook can help you do just that.

Starting out with Mom’s Shopping List, Dok Suni helps you become acquainted with everything you’ll need to make the recipes. Then you can delve into side dishes, rice and noodle dishes, soups, recipes for dishes with meat, chicken and fish, party foods, and treats. One recipe I’ll have try soon is the one for cinnamon and ginger punch. Our favorite Korean restaurant serves this after the meal and our little guy loves it.

In addition to good recipes, Dok Suni includes family stories about Kwak’s childhood and Korean folktales that have been handed down from generation to generation.