Mandu: What Is It, Types of, and How To Eat?

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Korean culture has been highly impactful throughout the recent years. A staple in Korean culture is their unique, healthy cuisine.

One food that Koreans love is Korean dumplings, or mandu. Not only do Koreans love it, but it’s also gaining popularity worldwide. What is mandu, and how do you eat it?

Mandu is the Korean word for Korean dumplings, which are made using a choice of meat such as pork or beef, and other ingredients such as garlic, chives, and ginger. 

Eating mandu is simple; all you have to do is choose how you want it: steamed, boiled, put in soup, pan-fried, or deep-fried. Mandu is a very common and loved dish in Korea.

The rest of this article will cover what mandu is, how to eat it, and a brief conclusion.

What Mandu Is

In Hangul, mandu is 만두. It is a very popular Korean dumpling dish. Whenever you’re in South Korea, you’ll see mandu on the menu. 

Whether it be street food or in a fancy restaurant, mandu will be served to you. The two most popular flavors are ground beef and pork.

Despite mandu being Korean dumplings, there is a difference between them and Chinese dumplings. 

It’s a small difference, but in the folding process, mandu is folded one more time than Chinese dumplings, giving them a more circular shape in comparison. 

There are multiple ways to make mandu. 

For starters, the core ingredients change the flavor entirely. Although the two most common types are meat, there are vegan dumplings you can make as well. 

These are called tofu mandu, and they’re packed with various veggies.

Beef Mandu

Ground beef mandu is a popular choice since beef is an accessible and versatile meat. It’s also well-liked by the Korean people and is a common meat you’ll see in other dishes as well. 

Beef may have lots of fat, but it also has plenty of protein, vitamins, and minerals.

Even with a fattier meat like beef, you can still implement it in your diet and make it a healthy food. The primary calories you get from mandu are from carbs and fat. 

However, if you balance this out by consuming less of them to lower the calorie count, it’s a much healthier food.

Pork Mandu

Another common meat for mandu is pork, and it’s popular because the texture goes well with the coating. 

Like beef, pork provides a plentiful amount of high-quality protein. It also provides vitamins and minerals. These minerals include but are not limited to: iron and zinc.

The best part about pork mandu is how well they go with different sauces and side dishes. The unique taste pork has makes it an excellent choice for soy sauce or a noodle side dish

Soy sauce goes well with all mandu, but meat and pork especially give it a standout taste.

Tofu Dumplings

Lastly, there’s the vegan option for mandu: tofu. Combining tofu with other plant-based ingredients, you can make a delicious vegan mandu dish. 

Some recommended vegetables to put with tofu are: cabbage, green onions, and carrot.

Tofu mandu are so popular because Korean cuisine focuses on health. Korean cuisine is known for how good it is for the skin and body, and tofu mandu is no exception to that. 

Not only is it a vegan option, but it’s also a good source of calcium, magnesium, and iron.

How To Eat Mandu

There are several ways to consume mandu depending on what style suits your tastes best. 

After choosing your primary ingredients, the next step is choosing how you want to cook it. The most common ways are as follows: put in soup, steamed, boiled, pan-fried, and deep-fried.

On the side, you can have a sauce of your choice (soy sauce is a common pick), and or you can have side dishes as well. 

Some popular side dishes you can choose are: chicken stir-fry noodles, fresh spring rolls, Thai fried rice, and spicy pork ramen noodle soup.

Put Mandu In Soup

In Korean culture, soup and stews are two huge food types due to the colder climate. Thanks to this, putting mandu in soup is a common occurrence. 

Whether the mandu is beef, pork, tofu, or another kind entirely, it can work well in a variety of different soups.

There is a specific soup Koreans put their mandu in: dumpling soup. In Korean, this is called Mandu-guk, or 만두국 in Hangul. 

This is not as vegan-friendly as other meals. The reason why is because Mandu-guk is made using a beef or anchovy broth mixed with a beaten egg.

Steamed Mandu

Steaming your mandu is a way to keep the nutrients more packed inside, leading to more flavor and nutritional value in your meal. 

The steaming method is especially effective on vegetables. This is because the vegetables are broken down more, leading to more nutrients.

Boiled Mandu

Instead of having more nutrients packed inside your mandu with steaming, boiling gives it a better feel and look. 

Certain foods, like dried legumes, will become softer from the boiling process while others, like starchy foods and tough proteins, will enhance their texture.

Boiling mandu is a simple way to cook them, making it a frequent choice among mandu lovers. 

To successfully boil your mandu, all you have to do is bring water to a boil and cook the mandu until they float. This process normally takes about 3 to 4 minutes for every 8 mandu.

Pan-Fried Mandu

This dry heat method is particularly good for meat dumplings like beef and pork. 

Pan-frying mandu is one of the preferred methods since it gets a beautiful browning on the bottom of it while cooking the meat nicely. It’s a seamless method to create crispier mandu.

Pan-frying your mandu is a highly accessible option because it requires not many materials or time. 

Your mandu can cook in just 10 minutes depending on how hot your stove can get. This method is also recommended for store-bought, frozen mandu as it gets the best color.

Deep-Fried Mandu

By submerging your mandu in hot liquid, you can deep-fry them and ensure that the inside will be cooked at the same time as the exterior. 

This process creates better browning like the pan-fry, but uses more oils and fats than before. It adds more flavor, but also more calories.

Conclusion

Mandu is a popular food that is a part of Korean cuisine. It’s a type of dumpling that includes mostly beef, pork, or tofu along with other ingredients like garlic, chives, and ginger. 

It can be cooked and eaten in many different ways depending on personal preference.

The three most popular categories of mandu are ground beef, pork, and tofu. Two meat options and also a potential vegan option. 

Beef and pork are common options because the flavor blends well with the texture. The tofu option is good for those who prefer plant-based meals.

Lastly, there are multiple methods you can utilize to bring your mandu dish to life. Each has their own pros and cons depending on what you like best. 

Keep in mind the effects these processes have. These options are: putting mandu in soup, steaming, boiling, pan-frying, and deep-frying.

About The Author

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Jason Park

Jason has been living in Seoul over 4 years and during that time, he has experienced a lot of the city's quirks and charms. He loves to write about his experiences and share them with others who are interested in learning more about South Korea.

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