Mom’s Kimchi Dumplings

Every New Year my whole extended family gathers around and makes dumplings. Everyone–uncles, aunts, cousins, kids–helps out to make hundreds of dumplings. I kid you not, hundreds of dumplings for days. Rows and rows of dumplings cover every flat surface we have in the house and there are jokes, laughter, little fights, family drama and good times. It makes for fond memories.

…or it did until I moved to this country.  I just feel like I don’t have much cultural roots here at least as far as holidays go.  I hate going to New Year’s Eve parties where people get drunk and I try to faint interest and small talk, watch the ball drop or whatever. I don’t like watching the parade (or is that Thanksgiving Day?) and I sure don’t watch Rose Bowl despite the fact that I am a former wolverine. The first and only time I saw the inside of the football stadium was on my graduation day.

I wanted my dumplings. And the rice cake soup. I called my mother for her recipe and she responded with her usual, “I will make them myself and send them to you! Oh, better yet, why don’t I go visit you and make the dumplings right there? I can move in with you too so you can have my dumplings any time your heart desires!” thing. I politely and graciously said thanks, but no thanks. And I got her recipe instead. Here it is:

Mom’s Kimchi Dumplings

Dumpling filling:

1 cup well-fermented kimchi, chopped

1 square tofu

2 large or extra large eggs

3 tablespoons garlic, finely chopped

2 tablespoons scallion, finely chopped

½ cup chives, finely chopped

½ cup bean sprouts, stringy ends removed

½ cup pork, finely chopped or ground

½ cup beef, finely chopped or ground

1 tablespoon pepper

1 tablespoon salt

1 tablespoon roasted sesame oil

Dumpling wrappers:

Buy round dumpling wrappers from a local Asian market. Ones labeled “gyoza” works the best. Or you can make your own the same way you’d make homemade ravioli without using any oil.

You will also need an extra egg to shape dumplings.

Dipping sauce:

Add some chopped scallions, rice wine vinegar, red chili pepper flakes and sesame oil to soy sauce to taste.

1. Wrap chopped kimchi with cheese cloth and squeeze most of the water out, set aside.

2. Wrap tofu with cheese cloth and squeeze the water out, set aside.

3. Wrap garlic, scallion, chives and bean sprouts cheese cloth, set aside.

4. Add all the ingredients in a bowl and fold and mix well so all the ingredients are incorporated. Your dumpling filling is ready.

5. Shape dumplings by first placing a round dumpling wrapper on your palm. In the center, add a tablespoon of dumpling filling. Use your finger to brush egg white onto the edge of the wrappers. Fold in half. Once the dumpling looks like a half moon, fold the edges into ripples. This will help the dumplings to keep their shape as they are being cooked.

Like this, pretty with folded ripples!

Like this, pretty with folded ripples!

6. To steam, add water in a large pot, place the steamer basket lined with lettuce (so the dumplings don’t stick), cover, steam on medium heat for about 7-10 minutes. To pan-fry, add a tablespoon of flavorless oil to your pan and pan-fry. Nonstick pans make it easier to pan-fry. I see instructions to add water once you brown the dumplings on a pan, but I like to just pan fry without adding water so the skins keep crisp.

So, I got to have my dumplings in the end.  And we have Obama, it’s all good.

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