Saturday, January 17, 2015

Kimchi- discovering love and dumplings

Food television is a bad influence. Seriously. I'm wracking my brain trying to find a place to purchase sea beans in the middle of an Iowa winter. Hunting down mushrooms that just don't ever show their faces in rural grocery stores. Starting a batch of sauerkraut in my back bedroom when I don't really care for the stuff in the first place, followed up with a batch of kimchi that, quite honestly, I am not sure I'll like either! Making homemade kimchi and watching shows on Food Network have inspired me to find delicious ways to try these new foods and watching a show the other night one of the hosts was visiting a restaurant in L.A. and having "Vegetarian Mandoo" which featured kimchi so I got to thinking.....why not? The rest of the ingredients they used were all easy to locate, even for me here in the country so naturally.......

It's not hard to make a vegetarian dish very substantial when you add hearty vegetables like mushrooms and yams. Mushrooms especially take on a very meaty texture on their own and I just don't miss the actual meat in the food at all. So these "mandoo" (their creative spelling) swapped the meat for mushrooms and I needed to research some recipes and find something comparable. That didn't exactly pan out. The dumplings are actually "mandu" and finding a no-meat recipe left me with a ton of tofu versions. On the show they had no tofu in there- they didn't list the ingredients but we did get to see the chef cooking it- no tofu was used- rather she used diced yams with enoki mushrooms, a sliced green of some kind (slivered green onion maybe), and piled on the round wrapper along with some chopped kimchi; brushed with egg wash; pan fried and served over yam puree drizzled with a sesame vinaigrette dressing.

So let's get going with my Mandu Science Project. You will need-
  • 1 package mushrooms (any kind is fine)
  • small bunch scallions
  • 2 fresh yams 
  • 1 cup kimchi, chopped
  • 1 package round wonton wrappers
  • 1 egg
  • oil for frying
Make the dipping sauce/dressing and set aside.

Peel the yams. Cut into small dice; steam or cook in a small amount of water until tender. Set aside 3/4 cup diced yams. Puree remaining yams, season with salt and pepper and set aside for now.

Chop enough mushrooms to make 1 cup. Cut the scallions into 2-3 inch lengths and julienne finely. Reserve a couple tablespoons for garnish. Beat the egg and set aside.

Heat a couple tablespoons of oil in a skillet. Saute the mushrooms until softened. Add the scallions and cook for a minute or two. Remove from heat and toss with reserved yam and kimchi.

Spoon some of the filling on the wrappers; brush the edges with egg and seal.

Heat a little more oil in the skillet and fry the dumplings on each side until golden brown and heated through. Remove and allow to drain on paper towel while making the rest.

To serve, spread a smear of the yam puree on appetizer plates. Top each plate with four dumplings; drizzle with dressing; sprinkle with reserved scallion and serve.

Plum Sesame Dipping Sauce
  • 1/4 cup plum sauce
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame seed
  • 1-2 drops sesame oil (optional)
Combine in small jar; shake to combine. Chill.

I used my own recipe for the plum sauce, which you can get HERE, but any commercial plum sauce will also work.

These were soooooo good!!! It was easy to fry them in my cute IKEA wok-like pan without using a ton of oil,and keep them warm in the oven while I finished. The sweet potato puree on the bottom was nice but next time I'd play with adding some ginger to it. The dipping sauce was good, and quick to throw together. These would be a great appetizer at a party too. 

Now about that kimchi- I am just so angry at myself for not trying it sooner! It was delicious and totally made this dish. I love love love love the stuff! Since it has been holding in the fridge for a couple weeks it has really developed nicely and the heat is fairly intense. It gave the mandu the perfect level of heat that balanced so well with the sweet sauce, creamy puree and crunchy wonton wrapper. I think from now on there will be a nice spoonful of kimchi added to many dishes around here, Asian or otherwise!


  1. I've never thought to put yams in a dumpling but it makes sense. I can't wait to give these a try sometime.

    1. Between the yams and the mushrooms they were so hearty we didn't even miss the meat! And they were delicious cold the next day.