Want to learn how to make the BEST dumpling filling? In this recipe, I will share a few tips & tricks to make the juiciest, most flavorful mandu.
There are many different types of dumplings that vary from country to country, and in Korean we call them “mandu.” This recipe is going to focus more on the filling, but I will also include my recipe for the dipping sauce.
The protein for this dumpling filling is going to be 1 lb of ground pork and 1/2 lb of ground shrimp. I think this is the best combination for dumplings because the shrimp gives a bit of a bouncy texture as well as some amazing flavor. The ground pork has to be on the fatty side. Do not use lean ground pork or you will have a dry, flavorless dumpling. I recommend 70% lean 30% fat ground pork.
These dumplings can be fried, steamed, or put in soup. There isn’t a right or wrong way to prepare them- it all depends on your preference. Lately I’ve been seeing a lot of dumplings with crispy skirts on the bottom, which you can also make with these!
How to make the BEST filling
Pre cook the veggies! You can get a good dumpling from salting and squeezing out moisture from the veggies, sure. But it will taste even better if you cook the veggies first to really bring out the flavors.
Separate the white crunchy parts from the leafy green parts of the napa cabbage. Each of these parts taste slightly different, and the leafy parts will cook much faster than the crunchy parts. We want to cook the crunchy parts first to make it softer and develop some nice flavor, then add the leafy parts last.
Add potato starch to the dumpling filling– this will help the juices stay locked in. Juicier meat= more flavor, and crunchier fried dumplings!
Add dashida to the dumpling filling- dashida is basically Korean beef bouillon, and yes it does contain some msg. This stuff has amazing flavor and I use it for a lot of things! You can use salt instead if you don’t like to use msg.
Rehydrate some dried shiitake mushrooms- chop them up and add them to the dumpling filling for some extra umami. Don’t worry if you don’t like mushrooms- my husband HATES mushrooms but he absolutely loves these dumplings with them!
Microwave a little piece of the filling to taste before making the dumplings– If you make my recipe exactly as it is written, you won’t need to do this. However, it is a good practice for dumpling making in general. Once you make the dumplings, you can’t really go back. But if you taste the filling first, you can adjust the seasonings to your liking.
Mandu skins & folding
You do NOT need to make your dumpling skins from scratch to make delicious mandu. I actually recommend not making them from scratch because it’s too time consuming, and there are plenty of great ready-made dumpling wrappers you can buy that are super affordable. I prefer wrappers that are a little bigger than the standard gyoza skins, and thicker as well. Any Korean brand will work, but my favorite is the Surasang brand (수라상).
There are a million ways to fold dumplings- do whatever works for you! The shape I made is very easy, all you have to do is seal the dumplings and pinch pleats from one end to the other. Please watch my recipe video on this to see how it is done.
This recipe will yield between 30 to 45 dumplings. It really depends on the size of your dumpling wrapper- they are not all exactly the same. The wrappers I use are on the bigger side, so I made about 30.
These dumplings honestly don’t even need a dipping sauce, but for some reason it feels wrong not to have some!
My dipping sauce has serrano peppers, onions, chives, sesame seeds, soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, and some Zindrew’s Garlic Chili Oil. You can use whichever chili oil you like, but this one is my favorite. It does not contain five spice or Szechuan peppercorn, which is why I love it so much. If you use a chili oil that has these ingredients, just know that it will not taste very Korean.
The BEST Mandu (Korean Dumplings)
- 1 lb ground pork 70% lean 30% fat
- 1/2 lb ground shrimp
- 1 tbsp potato starch
- 2 tsp dashida (Korean beef bouillon)
- 3 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp brown sugar or regular sugar
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 2 oz Asian chive chopped
- 1 package dumpling wrappers Korean mandu skins
- 5 oz napa cabbage crunchy parts chopped
- 2 oz napa cabbage leafy parts chopped
- 2 oz onion chopped
- 5 garlic cloves crushed
- 1 tsp ginger crushed
- pinch of salt
- 4 dried shiitake mushrooms rehydrated chopped
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 2 tsp rice vinegar
- 1 tsp chili oil I recommend Zindrew's chili oil
- 1 tsp water
- 1 chopped green onion
- 1 minced garlic
- 1 chopped serrano pepper
- 1 tbsp chopped onion
- 1/2 tsp sesame seeds
- Prepare all the precooked filling ingredients: separate and chop the leafy & crunchy parts of napa cabbage. Rehydrate 4 dried shiitake mushrooms in water for about half an hour, squeeze out moisture, and chop into small pieces. Crush the garlic and ginger, chop the onion, and chop the Asian chives (Asian chives will not be precooked).
- On medium low heat, add a little oil to a pan and sauté the onions until fragrant. Add the garlic & ginger and mix for one minute. Next add the crunchy parts of the napa cabbage and the shiitake mushrooms. Season with a pinch of salt and sauté for another 3 to 4 minutes.
- Add the leafy parts of the napa cabbage and sauté for another minute or two.
- Once everything has softened, turn off the heat and let it cool down completely
- Mix together the ground pork, shrimp, soy sauce, potato starch, dashida, and sugar until well combined. In order to get a nice bouncy texture, make sure you mix for at least 2 minutes.
- Add the precooked filings and the Asian chives. Mix well.
- Wet the edges of the dumpling wrappers with some water and put about 1 tbsp of filling in the center (the amount depends on the size of your wrappers). If you like some extra crunch (or chew) on your mandu, add less filling so that the pleats on the wrapper are a little bigger.
- Seal the edges.
- Shape the dumplings however you'd like. I tend to use the same shape no matter what kind of dumplings I am making (fried, steamed, in soup, etc). See my video on how I fold my dumplings to get this pattern.
- If you are not eating all the dumplings right away, you can line them up on some parchment paper and put them in the freezer. Once frozen solid, you can put them into a ziplock bag and save for later (cooking instructions are the same- just let the dumplings thaw on the counter about 15 minutes before cooking).
- On medium heat, add a generous amount of oil (2-3 tbsp) to a pan. Fry the dumplings for about 2 minutes on each side.
- The dumplings are ready when they are a nice golden brown color on all sides. If there are any raw parts of skin where the pleats are, I usually tilt the pan so that all the oil wells up on one side, then I place the uncooked parts into the oil until nicely fried.
- Alternatively, you can steam the dumplings for 7-8 minutes.
- Enjoy with dipping sauce (just mix all ingredients together).