It’s time for another Korean food post, yay!
Mandu (만두) is one of my staple, lazy night, no-food-in-the-house, quick fix dinners. They are dumplings that come in a variety of shapes and sizes, are filled with several kinds of stuffing, and can be prepared in a few different ways.
The most common mandu are small, bite-sized dumplings, and filled with either a mixture of minced meat, glass noodles and vegetables (gogi mandu) or kimchi and vegetables (kimchi mandu). They can be fried (see my earlier post about twigim), boiled (and served in a soup), or steamed. Then there’s wang mandu (literally “king dumpling”!), which is filled similarly to gogi mandu, steamed, and ranges in size from large to freaking ginormous.
Mandu places are a common sight on the streets of Korea, often with a few simple diner-style tables inside the shop, where the mandu is filled and shaped by hand. However, the steamed version is usually cooked outside, for obvious reasons:
That’s one of those sights that I enjoy on a cold winter’s night, but it does make me want to die when I walk through an unexpected cloud of hot steam in the street in the middle of summer.
Inside your typical mandu shop, you will find a menu that looks something like this:
They generally sell other things too – the menu is divided into sections, as you can see, all the foods neatly arranged by category. Gimbap, fried rice dishes, soups and stews, ramen… but it’s the mandu that’s the star of the show in these places. And it’s so cheap! You can see the prices there – most items are between 2,500 and 5,000 won. That’s about £1.30 to £2.70. Not bad for a tasty, filling dinner!
This is my local mandu shop, just a short walk down the road from my apartment:
They know me there, and always welcome me with a smile and a cheery greeting, before asking if I want my usual. My favourite mandu is – surprise, surprise – the kimchi version. You know me and my kimchi addiction. These ones are much tastier and spicier than the other kinds, and I can’t get enough of them! However, I also enjoy the wang mandu – my local shop sells a relatively small version, but one portion of 5 is still too much for me. My “usual” is one portion of kimchi mandu, and one of wang mandu, which they always assume is for two people, as they give me two pairs of chopsticks in the bag. Worry not, my diet has not fallen by the wayside! I eat half one night, and then re-steam the rest the following night. Dinner for two nights, about £3.50. You couldn’t beat it with a big stick.
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