kimchi meat dumpling pancake // mandu jeon

kimchi meat dumpling pancake // mandu jeon

“You like potato and I like potahto

You like tomato and I like tomahto

Potato, potahto, tomato, tomahto.

Let's call the whole thing off”

-George & Ira Gershwin, 1937-


Mandu is what you call dumplings in the Korean language. Not wontons, gyoza, or potstickers. Mandu. 

As for shape, let’s not get taxonomical. According to Wikipedia and the OED, everything can be considered a dumpling. Read more about its origins here. So then, my fritters here are dumplings. Certainly not Silk-Road approved, but nonetheless, dumplings. Starch. Flour. Filling. It may not have the same chewiness of the dumpling with skin attached, but it’ll taste pretty damn similar. I promise.

Korean dumplings are different than those of other dumplings across Asia because they contain more tofu in the interior mash. Tofu is certainly not a requisite to achieving yumminess with these morsels, but tofu is what gives this mandu a little more umami, if you will. This recipe calls for a simpler process that deletes the rolling out of the skin. (Fret not though. You can do that later on a wintry afternoon when you’re craving a project that ends in an invisible badge of honor that comes with making wonton skins.)

And yes, you guessed correctly. This dumpling concoction was birthed out of laziness, or at least my constant craving to keep things simpler. That, and I didn’t have enough flour in the freezer to mold something. Be sure to finish with the sauce as well. The clean tang of the soy-vinegar sauce will temper the grease of the pancake. No. Excuse me, the grease of the dumpling. It’s good to be sharp.


prep time: 15 minutes // cook time: 5-7 minutes // serves: 2-4


  • kimchi – 2 cups, chopped finely
  • extra-firm tofu – 1 cup, mashed
  • unbleached flour – 1 ½ cups (rice flour works too for gf cakes)
  • glass noodles/vermicelli – ½ a serving (dime-sized amount)
  • soy sauce – 2 Tbsp. (half for dipping sauce)
  • sesame oil – 1 Tbsp.
  • salt - a dash for seasoning
  • green onion – 2 stalks, finely chopped
  • oil (grapeseed, vegetable, or olive are best)– for frying
  • water – a splash for batter
  • optional: green serrano-like pepper for an extra kick, ground black pepper


pour oil in your frying pan (take advantage of your cast-iron skillet if you own one), then heat medium low

boil the glass noodles in a pot for 9-10 minutes (it’s okay if they’re soft and jellied)

rinse noodles off in sink and put in a generous-sized mixing bowl

prep the tofu by squeezing out the water with a paper towel over it, and set the mash in the bowl

include the soy sauce, sesame oil, salt, green onion, chopped kimchi, and the flour

mix thoroughly (what should result is a sloshy, spongy ‘batter’–when in doubt, add more flour or water)

spoon about 1 heaping Tbsp of the batter onto the heated pan, waiting for your delicious creations

press down with spatula, and enjoy that sizzzzle while it cooks, about 5 minutes

flip over and be sure the pancake is glistening--all indicators of golden, oily, delicious crispness (although not recommended, don’t be afraid to flip multiple times to get an even crunch)

serve with vinegared-soy sauce, and good luck leaving some for later (these make great next-day lunch leftovers)


Behold my ambitious attempts at dumpling soup when I was younger. . No, it’s not you. They are gigantic.


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Anna W. Yi © 2017. All rights reserved.
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