Last week, I kicked off my new series, Chasing Life: Field Notes, with a blogpost about aging. The purpose of this series is to share some of the things I have been doing to make my latter days better than the first. Some of these things include traveling, meeting new people, making and trying new things, and always learning! One thing I did while I was in South Korea was connect with a family that took me in and treated me as one of their own from the beginning. For their Lunar New Year (Seollal) celebrations, they had an entire week full of events and family gatherings. I was so touched that they invited me to be a part of the festivities!
It was unfortunate that I was far away from family during the 2020/2021 holiday season, but I am grateful to have experienced it in a completely different way — learning new things to do and to eat! On another post, I had shared with you about the Lunar New Year traditions in Korea. I have been told this is the biggest and most celebrated holiday in the country. One thing you cannot miss if you are ever in South Korea during the holidays is homemade Korean dumplings (Mandu/만두), which are round dough wrappers filled with meat and vegetables. For this occasion, my friend prepared a mix of meat, kimchi (spicy fermented cabbage), and other vegetables for the dumplings’ fillings.
The gathering took place at the family’s Pishon Farm, and aside from the delicious chicken and dumpling soup, there were several side dishes (in the typical Korean fashion). I was not expecting to be a part of the dumpling-making process, but was super excited to be allowed to work alongside the family making our own dumplings and enjoying each others’ company through stories, laughter, and joy. I love the fact that EVERYONE was involved in the dumpling-making activity before savoring the delicious meal. It helped me appreciate our feast even more. This was a lot of good and laborious fun, and a new field note for my memory bank.
Here is Yun’s kimchi mandu (dumpling) recipe:
- Grind or finely chop kimchi, bean sprouts, pork, tofu, and green onions.
- Season with salt (to taste).
- Add garlic and mix.
- Put half a tablespoon in the center of the dumpling skin and fold it in half to shape it. (In order for the dough to form a tight seal, you need to dip your finger in water and wet the edges of the flattened dough first.)
- Pour water into the steamer and place a cloth, paper, or leaf inside to prevent the dumplings from sticking to the steamer.
- When steam rises after heating the water, put the dumplings in.
- Steam for five minutes or until the filling is cooked through.
For the regular meat dumpling recipe, follow the same instructions but omit the kimchi.
What traditional dish do you make with your family/friends during the holidays?