Just about every culture has a dumpling of some sort, and for Koreans, it's mandoo.
Every New Year's Eve we eat ttok kuk (rice cake soup) and on New Year's Day, we eat mandoo. (Do you?) For those that aren't familiar with mandoo (or mundoo), they are are usually either boiled in soup or fried. They are easy to make and we have a tradition in our house where my mom, siblings, and I "compete" to see who can make the prettiest mandoo. Legend has it that if you made pretty mandoo, your children will be pretty, too.
It starts with filling which is usually a combination of ground pork, tofu, green onions, and kimchi. In my family we also add garlic and cooked bean sprouts. The wet ingredients must be squeezed absolutely dry or the mandoo will fall apart when boiled. A food processor makes quick work of getting the ingredients chopped finely and blended. (My sister working the Cuisinart.)
If you've never made mandoo before, it really isn't hard. The dumpling-making is the most time-consuming part. Once they are made, you simmer the mandoo gently in a pork-beef-chicken broth (yes, all three) until they float and then maybe a minute more. Reserve some chicken meat from the broth to garnish the soup later. You can cook about a dozen at one time.
Serve in bowls with the broth (a little or a lot, we serve "not too much" soup). Garnish with strips of kim (roasted seaweed), cilantro leaves, shredded chicken, and strips of egg omelette (an omelette which has been cut into a thin chiffonade). Serve with ko chu jung (hot red pepper) sauce on the side.
At least that's how we do it in my family. How do you do it in yours?
Happy New Year!!
—Stefania Pomponi Butler