Mandu (Dumplings) Two Ways: Deconstructed Mandu & Tteok Mandu Guk (Rice Cake n Dumpling Soup)

Here’s my play on the always delicious, bite-sized pieces of goodness called mandu, essentially dumplings stuffed with a mixture of various meat and vegetables. Honestly, I rarely make these at home since they’re so time-consuming and can easily be bought at the grocery store for cheap, but for the sake of “experimentation” I thought I’d do something different with them. One half of the batch was made into tteok mandu guk (rice cake and dumpling soup) and the other half was deconstructed as a snack of sorts. To give credit where credit is due, I got the deconstructed idea from one of the many cooking shows that I watch on my spare time. The show has two chefs competing to whip up something in 15 minutes using limited ingredients from a celebrity’s real refrigerator (yes, they actually haul the refrigerator into the studio). Anyways, one of the genius chefs tried to deep-fry regular mandu pee (dumpling wrappers) into quasi-tortilla shells to make some tacos—and it worked. Just like on the show, the mandu wrappers (surprisingly) fried into crispy shells and made for an excellent base for the topping. And speaking of the topping, that was the only thing that needed some improvement after thinking I could just stir-fry the inner components of a mandu straight up (tasted slightly bland and uninspiring). My next go around I’ll add some sauteed kimchi or pickled vegetables to give it some extra texture and flavors. The regular mandu was used to make a hearty pot of mandu guk and was quickly devoured by me and the girlfriend. 🙂

Mandu (Dumplings) 101: There are many variations of mandu like gogi mandu (meat), yachae mandu (vegetable) and my favorite, kimchi mandu. For my batch, I decided to make gogi mandu using Jeju’s famed ground black pork as the main protein and available vegetables in the fridge. The great thing about making mandu is that you can make them in large quantities and freeze them for later use, which sadly we couldn’t do because our freezer was already packed with other goodies. Mandu are delicious eaten alone, but they also make for great additions to soups. It is common to eat mandu guk (dumpling soup) or a variation called tteok mandu guk (rice cake and dumpling soup) on New Year’s Day in Korea.

“The discovery of a new dish does more for the happiness of the human race than the discovery of a star.” ~ Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin
Half of the filling ingredients were diced for the deconstructed topping.
Mandu pee (wrappers/skins) can be bought at most Asian grocers. If you have extra space in your freezer, I recommend buying two packs and making extra for later use.
Heat up a generous amount of olive oil, then fry the mandu wrappers for about 20 seconds or until browned.
Place the fried wrappers on a serving dish, or if you’re like me, a large cutting board.
Stir-fry the toppings until cooked through. Add extra salt and pepper to taste.
Deconstructed mandu!
Another view of the deconstructed mandu!
Finely dice your ingredients and mix them together.
Add a generous amount of filling into the wrapper. Moisten the outer edge with water or egg yolk as an adhesive. Fold into a half-crescent moon.
Once filled and made into half-crescent shaped moon, bring the two edges together and pinch at the corners to stick.
Using ready-made seolleungtang (beef stock) from the market is highly recommend for a richer broth. Another option is to boil any cut of beef along with dashida (instant beef stock). Rice cakes are optional.
Boil the ingredients together for about 10 minutes with a dash of salt and pepper. Adding a beaten egg is optional for a creamier texture. Mandu pieces should float or rise to the top when fully cooked through.
Add some garnish and you’re ready to eat tteok mandu guk!
Another view of the tteok mandu guk!
Mandu (Dumplings) Two Ways: Deconstructed Mandu & Mandu Guk
Recipe Type: Fusion, Traditional
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 40 dumplings
  • 1 package mandu pee (dumpling wrappers; about 40 pieces)
  • 1 package of seolleungtang stock (or beef stock)
  • 1 block soft tofu
  • 1 lb ground pork (or beef)
  • 8 mushroom pieces, finely chopped
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 3 scallions, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • dash salt and pepper
  1. For the deconstructed mandu:
  2. Prep half of the vegetables and tofu by dicing into 1cm pieces while mincing the remaining for the mandu filling, set aside.
  3. Heat up a generous amount of olive oil to deep fry, then fry the mandu wrappers for about 20 seconds or until browned. Set aside fried wrappers on paper towel lined plate.
  4. Saute the diced vegetables and seasonings until cooked through. Add salt and pepper to taste. Plate accordingly onto the fried mandu wrappers. Enjoy!
  5. For the tteok mandu guk:
  6. Bring the beef stock to a boil in a pot over medium-high heat. Add the dumplings and rice cake slices; cook at a boil for about 8~10 minutes or until the dumplings have risen to the surface and the rice cakes are soft. Add beaten egg for silkier texture.
  7. Garnish with fried egg yolk called jidan, dried laver, and scallions. Enjoy piping hot!
Note: All recipes, or more specifically seasoning and spice measurements, contained in MYKOREANEATS are approximations. Growing up in an old-school Korean kitchen where everything was measured by hand, there was a strict but important rule called “son-maat” (손맛), literally meaning “taste from one’s hand.” My mom would swear by this and always cooked all the dishes using her raw cooking instincts to provide comfort food at its best. This concept of “son-maat” is pretty important in Korean cooking, so I’ve always wanted to keep that tradition alive even with the blog. Another aspect that I love about “son-maat” is the idea of putting one’s own signature into a dish. What makes your food taste like yours, not like anyone else’s, is literally and figuratively the “taste of one’s hands.” As a side note, most Korean dishes like stews, stir fries, and banchan (side dishes) are cooked to taste, meaning that the addition of extra spices is, more often than not, added during the cooking process itself. In that sense, don’t fuss and worry about exact measurements, but rather focus on developing your own “son-maat.”

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