Sunday, October 24, 2010

Kimchi mandu & dukbokki

I guess this post could be entitled Even more fun with kimchi, because I am developing a fascination with the stuff and started a new batch yesterday.  Today I used up the last of my first batch in kimchi mandu, or kimchi dumplings. 

I had also bought some "rice cakes" at the oriental market the other day.  These are not the crunchy rice cakes Westerners know and love (or hate; personally I am neutral towards them), but a kind of rice pasta or gnocchi.  It comes in different shapes, but mine was in slices or coins.  With this I made another Korean dish, dubokki.

Where to begin?  Here are the rice cakes in their packaging:

They look kind of soft and lima-bean like, but that look is deceptive.  They're quite tough and dry, and once the packet was opened, fell out of it in individual slices without sticking at all.  Cooked, they're more like gnocchi than anything else.  I based my dish closely on this one from Maangchi.  I didn't use a recipe but followed her method, though instead of anchovies, I simmered about 2 square inches of kombu in the water for ten minutes, then removed it before adding the other ingredients.  Watch her video; the way the rice cakes suddenly thicken in the broth is magical.  This dish reminded me a little of spaghetti with tomato sauce, though of course without spaghetti or tomatoes...

I did use this, Korean hot pepper paste, something new to me in the last week.  It's a dark red paste, spicy but not fiery hot.  Its texture is a little gritty and floury and it does in fact contain some wheat flour:

Then I made dumplings.  Kimchi dumplings.  Again, I'll give pictures but not a recipe, because I mostly just put it together with things I had.  My efforts were based loosely on this recipe, which I halved, and I also subbed ground seitan for the pork.  Dumplings seem like a ton of work, and of course they can be if you're making them for an army, but 24 dumplings took me about an hour.  I made most of it in the food processor.  The dough first, which is just flour and water:

Then the filling.  If you didn't want to use seitan, there's no reason at all they couldn't be all-tofu.  The only trick to a dumpling filling is not to let it be too wet.  I squeezed out my tofu and kimchi in a cloth before adding them to the mix:

Then roll out the little bits of dough into circles about 3 1/2 inches in diameter and place about a tablespoon of filling in the centre:

Wet one half of the edge, fold the other over and pinch shut, then join the two ends of the half circle to make a cute little circular dumpling:

A family group:

So far, so good, but when I steamed them they didn't come out all shiny and glossy like the ones you make from the bought wrappers, but they held together well and tasted fine.  I ate seven and froze the rest, so it may be that after their chilly sojourn in the freezer their texture will improve.  I have special plans for those dumplings!

This was served with a salad with a simple soy sauce/rice vinegar/sesame oil dressing, and some sweet-and-salty daikon pickles from Madhur Jaffrey's World of the East Vegetarian Cooking I made a day or two ago and am really pleased with.  The dumpling-dipping sauce was just rice vinegar with grated ginger, and was superb!


  1. Wow, that looks so beautiful the way you have it set out with the pretty dishes. You could open a looks so delicious. The rice cakes are cool; it's neat how they thicken the sauce too. Your dumplings all look so perfect, and they kind of remind me of little sailor caps.

  2. If you don't stop this I'm going to have to go and buy a jar of kimchi. I was fingering one at the Asian market this weekend but figured I surely would make some soon. Maybe tomorrow night. I envy your dedication to creating good food.

  3. Everything looks amazing, you're getting to be quite the kimchi master! I like rice cakes, but I know them as rice pucks. :-)

  4. Chow, pucks work for me! That's exactly what they're like.

    Andrea, do make your own. The work involved is maybe 10 minutes at most from start to finish, plus you get the science fun of watching it bubble and ferment (why don't the bought kinds do that, I wonder?). Years ago when I made it for the first time, for some reason I had difficulty finding recipes to use it in. But lately this has not been a problem!

    Thanks, Rose, the dumplings remind me of sailor caps too, or some origami shape. To someone spacially challenged like me the finished dumpling looks mind-bogglingly complex--luckily, they're easy to make, just one step further than folding them in half.