My mom used to enslave my sister and me to make these by the thousands. Plump dumplings neatly lined up on plates and trays covered every surface of the kitchen. I used to only eat the skins, shaking out the meaty insides for my sister. As I got older, I learned to savor those juicy gems as well, but the crispy skins are still my favorite part. If you prefer, the dumplings can be steamed instead of fried. These are a best seller at my restaurant, Jinjuu.
FOR THE FILLING: In a large bowl, combine the filling ingredients. Mix together using your hands, really breaking up the tofu to yield a very uniform texture.
FOR THE DUMPLINGS: Line a couple of baking sheets with waxed paper and set aside. Fill a small bowl with water. Unwrap the wonton wrappers and cover lightly with a piece of plastic wrap to keep them from drying out. Lay a wrapper on a clean work surface and put a tablespoon of the meat filling in the center. Dip a forefinger into the water and run it along the edges of the wrapper to moisten the surface. Fold the wrapper in half. Starting at the top of the half-circle and working toward the ends, press firmly together to seal, pressing out any air bubbles.
Lay the dumpling on its side on one of the prepared baking sheets. Repeat with the remaining wrappers and filling, making sure the dumplings aren’t touching on the baking sheets. Once the dumplings are assembled, if you don’t plan to cook them right away, you can freeze them on the baking sheets, then bag them up to store in the freezer. Without thawing the frozen dumplings, boil or steam them to cook through, then pan fry if you like to make them crispy.
In a large nonstick skillet, heat about 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Working in batches, lay the dumplings on their sides in the pan in a single layer without crowding the pan. Cook until golden brown on the bottom, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip them and cook until the other side is golden brown and the filling is cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes more. Transfer the fried dumplings to a wire rack or paper towel–lined plate to drain. Repeat with the remaining dumplings, adding more oil to the skillet as needed. If you prefer not to fry the dumplings, steam them in batches until cooked through, 5 to 6 minutes, then transfer to a serving platter (steamed dumplings do not need to be drained).
Transfer the fried dumplings to a platter. Top with some of the chile threads and serve immediately, with the dipping sauce.
TIP: If you’d like to check the seasoning of the filling for the dumplings—or any kind of filling or stuffing that includes raw meat or fish—cook a small patty in a lightly oiled skillet, then adjust the seasonings to your taste.
FOR THE DIPPING SAUCE: In a small bowl, stir together all the ingredients. Cover and store in the refrigerator if not using immediately.
Text excerpted from KOREAN FOOD MADE SIMPLE © 2016 by Judy Joo. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.