Northern-Style Kimchi Dumpling (Ibuksik Kimchi Mandu) Recipe

My paternal grandfather was from North Korea and I grew up dutifully making these northern-style kimchi dumplings with my family as long ago as I can remember. My father insisted on practising the technique religiously for every family gathering or national holiday – large or small – in an effort to hold onto his roots. He was passionate about food, and some of these dishes were a small but important part of the family history he felt compelled to preserve, and which has now become my own family tradition here in London.

Northern-style dumplings are unadorned and typically bulked out with tofu to yield the flavour that is commonly described as dambaekhan mat, which loosely translates as clean, almost plaintasting. Simply seasoned only with salt and pepper, the humbly balanced, unfussy filling lends an overall harmony of flavours.

This recipe is an adaptation of my family’s beloved dumpling recipe, respectfully furnished with more universal measurements translated from the original oral or visual descriptions such as ‘thumbnail sized’, ‘one fistful’, ‘just enough’, ‘a touch more’ or ‘as you please’.

I adore its decisively simple and honest taste. I hope you do, too.

This recipe is extracted from Pocha by Su Scott (Quadrille, £27), Photography by Toby Scott

TRY: Check out Su Scott's recipes for Crispy Seaweed Roll Gimmari & Salted Soy Sauce Caramel Bites Ganjang Caramel!

Ingredients for Northern-Style Kimchi Dumpling

  • 2 x packs of 23 frozen dumpling wrappers (8cm/3 ¼ inch in diameter), defrosted in the fridge overnight 
  • 1 egg, lightly whisked 

For the dumpling filling 

For the dipping sauce

How to make Northern-Style Kimchi Dumpling

  1. To make the filling, bring a pan of salted water to the boil and have a bowl of cold water close by. When the water is rapidly boiling, carefully drop in the beansprouts and blanch them for 3 minutes until a little floppy.
  2. Using tongs or a wire skimmer, transfer the beansprouts to the bowl of cold water, then drain. Gently squeeze the water out of the beansprouts as much as you can by hand without squashing them. Chop the beansprouts as finely as you can, then transfer to a large mixing bowl big enough to accommodate the rest of the filling ingredients, or into the mixing bowl of a stand mixer, if you have one.
  3. Wrap the block of tofu in a piece of muslin or cheesecloth and wring it as tightly as you can to remove the excess water. The tofu inside will crumble as you squeeze and twist, and this is perfectly fine. Add to the mixing bowl with the beansprouts and set aside.
  4. To prepare the kimchi, ensure it is well drained by gently squeezing to remove the excess moisture. Finely chop and add to the mixing bowl.
  5. Pat the pork dry with kitchen paper to remove any sitting blood and add to the mixing bowl, along with the spring onions. Add the sesame oil, black pepper, sugar and salt and work the mixture energetically with your hands to combine, as if you are kneading dough, scraping the edges in a scooping motion to thoroughly mix everything together. As you work the mixture, it will start to feel almost sticky. If you are using a stand mixer, use the paddle attachment and process for a couple of minutes until well combined.
  6. Line a couple of baking trays with parchment paper, so you can transfer the shaped dumplings as you go. Set up a comfortable working station: have ready the lined trays, dumpling wrappers, a bowl with the whisked egg, and the filling mixture. I like to do this seated at the table so that my family and/or friends can get involved in the communal activity of shaping the dumplings together.
  7. To shape the dumplings, place a wrapper on the palm of your non-dominant hand. Dip the index fingertip of your dominant hand into the whisked egg and rub it gently but thoroughly along the outer edge of the wrapper; this will ensure the finished dumpling is sealed securely.
  8. Place a heaped teaspoonful of filling – or slightly less, if you’re finding it tricky to handle – at the centre of the wrapper, pressing firmly to ensure it is well packed. Bring the bottom and top edges together to fold into a half-moon shape, making sure you press the edges firmly to seal securely. You may want to push the filling in a bit as you move along the edges. Once sealed, bring both corners to meet in the middle, overlapping the ends. Rub a little egg in between and press firmly together to seal. Transfer to the lined tray. Continue working through the rest of the dumplings.
  9. Make the dipping sauce by mixing all the sauce ingredients together.
  10. To cook the dumplings, you can either steam them over a medium heat for 11 minutes or simmer for 5 minutes by plunging them into a pan of boiling water. Serve warm with the dipping sauce on the side.
  11. Leftover cooked dumplings can be stored in the fridge for 3 days or for a couple of months in the freezer.
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