Regrow Green Onions at Home

Green onions are a permanent fixture on my grocery list. They have a home in many Korean dishes, but I also chop them for salads, make relish for lettuce wraps, or roast them whole. They are fresh produce that have the spirit of pantry items I love best: high flavor impact with low effort.


Green onions are typically sold in small batches, and the grocery store variety can be underwhelming. (Green onion slime is a very real problem.) By the time you cut off the scraggly roots and trim the hollow shoots up top, you’re left with a few thin stalks that can easily be gobbled up if you’re cooking for a group. There is a way, however, to take the edge off of this kitchen problem:

Regrow them in your kitchen. It takes a little over a week.

A friend recommended this to me, and she’s made the process a regular part of her kitchen routine. Though it sounds like a Pinterest lifehack (and it is — you can find it on Pinterest), the ease with which you can regrow green onions should be enough to squash any feelings of preciousness. You’re throwing out the ends anyway. You probably have a jar. And if you’re someone who runs through green onions with any regularity, why not? It’s especially appealing for fellow tiny apartment-dwellers who don’t have much in the way of a garden.

The only “tools” you need are a bowl and some water. (I started with a small, shallow bowl and then transferred to a jar once the new onions got a few inches on them.) Let them sit out and watch the magic happen. You’ll notice growth by the second day, but it took about ten days to get them back to their regular size.

Here’s the step-by-step.

1.Cut the ends off the green onions, being sure to avoid most of the green.

2. Place the ends in a bowl of shallow water, covering the roots completely.

3. When you start to see some growth, change the water out.

4. Transfer the onions to to a mason jar once they’re long enough to stay upright with the ends submerged in water.

5. Eat them. They will taste like green onions.

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Food & Culture:
Korean Food & Cooking

Kkakdugi, Radish Kimchi Recipe

Kimchi comes in all sizes and shapes, yet this Kkakdugi created out of big Korean radish is a significant favorite. With refreshing crunchy cubes of fresh spoonful at a sweet and hot pickling sauce will definitely go great paired with grilled meats, soups, or a bowl of rice.

As somebody who enjoys condiments, and pickles particularly, I have tried maintained vegetables in a variety of types from civilizations across the world. I would argue though that nobody does pickles quite in addition to the Koreans. Kimchi was traditionally prepared during autumn in huge batches and kept underground in earthenware urns. This is the ideal way to conserve summer veggies to the extended harsh Korean winter.

Just like a fine wine, kkakdugi tastes much better as it evolves. I really like you could delight in a batch within the span of its own cessation. It starts off fresh and vibrant, such as a pungent salad. Since the flavours meld, it mellows out, bringing the sweetness out of this gochugaru (chili flakes) and radish. Since it continues to grow, lacto-fermenation transforms the sugars to lactic acid giving it a clearly sour flavor and adding an entirely new dimension into the humble pickle.

While many recipes have you move directly from salting to pickling your kimchi, I favor including a day of drying. This lowers the water content of this radish and provides it a crunchier texture, however you can bypass this thing for a more tender kkakdugi.

Best Japchae (Korean Glass Noodles) – Authentic and Amazing!

Japchae Korean Glass Noodles CloseupJapchae is a classic Korean Glass Noodle dish that is served as a side dish or appetizer. Mild in flavor, this is a great first dish to try if you never had Korean food before. This Japchae recipe is traditional and authentic – exactly how my family made it for years, so Enjoy! Japchae is…

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Tteok Mandu Guk (Rice Cake Soup with Dumplings)

Make this warm, soothing bowl of rice cake soup with dumplings for your New Year celebration! The recipe shows how to make a quick Korean beef broth.

Tteok Mandu Guk (Rice Cake Soup with Dumplings)

Happy Lunar New Year! Tomorrow is Lunar New Year (Seollal, 설날)! Although we eat tteokguk all year round, tteokguk is a traditional New Year dish. I already have two versions of tteokguk on the blog – tteokguk and gul tteokguk (oyster rice cake). This time, I’m showing you how to make a variation made with mandu (Korean dumplings), hence the name tteok mandu guk (떡만두국)!

My previous tteokguk recipe uses beef brisket which is flavorful but takes a long time to cook. In this recipe, I used a quick method to make a beef soup base. You can also use anchovy broth, vegetable broth or even store-bought chicken stock, if preferred.

For dumplings, I personally prefer kimchi mandu for the soup. The robust flavor and crunchy texture of kimchi mandu add a nice contrast to the mildly flavored broth and soft rice cake slices. You can, of course, use any dumplings, including your favorite store bought ones.

Tteok Mandu Guk (Rice Cake Soup with Dumplings)

To add mandu (dumplings), you can cook them in the broth along with the rice cake slices. Stir gently so they don’t stick to the bottom of the pot. Boil until all of them float, and continue to cook for another minute or two. But, this method will make the soup pretty thick from all the starch released from the rice cakes and dumplings.  

One way to keep the soup from becoming too thick is to cook the dumplings in boiling water separately until they float, and add to the soup after the rice cakes are softened.

My preferred way is to steam the dumplings and add to the soup when the rice cakes float and softened. This not only keeps the soup from getting too thick, but also prevents the dumpling skins from turning mushy.

Happy Lunar New Year! Hope you and your family have a delicious tteok mandu guk.

Have you tried this rice cake soup with dumplings recipe?  Please rate the recipe below by either clicking the stars in the recipe card or in the comment section! And make sure to share your creations by tagging me on Instagram! Stay in touch by following me on Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Tteok Mandu Guk (Rice Cake Soup with Dumplings)

Tteok Mandu Guk (Rice Cake Soup with Dumplings)

Make this warm, soothing bowl of rice cake soup with dumplings for your New Year celebration!

  • 4 ounces beef (chuck or loin)
  • 1 tablespoon soup soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 scallion
  • 2 to 3 cups sliced rice cakes (tteokguk tteok, 떡국떡) (Soak in cold water for 10 to 20 min if hardened)
  • 8 to 10 dumplings (mandu)

Optional Garnish

  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 sheet gim nori, cut into thin strips
  1. Cut the beef into thin bite size pieces (1 to 1 1/2 inch).
  2. In a medium pot, sauté the beef with 1 tablespoon of soup soy sauce until all the pieces turn brown. Pour in 5 cups of water and bring it to a boil. Skim off the foam. Reduce the heat to medium and continue to boil, covered, for 10 minutes.
  3. You can add the dumplings to the soup along with rice cakes in the next step. Another option is to cook the dumplings separately in the boiling water until the dumplings float to the top, and then add to the soup when the rice cakes are cooked. Or, line a steamer with a wet cheesecloth and then steam mandu for about 8 minutes (10 minutes if frozen).
  4. Add the garlic and the rice cake slices to the boiling broth. Boil until the rice cakes turn very soft, usually about 5 – 8 minutes. 

  5. Drop the cooked dumplings and the scallion to the soup. Let the soup come to a boil again. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Ladle the steaming soup into individual bowls and garnish with the optional egg and gim strips.

Optional garnish

  1. To make egg garnish (jidan), separate the egg white and yolk. Lightly beat the white by gently cutting it with a spoon. Stir the yolk with a spoon until smooth. Heat a lightly oiled nonstick skillet over medium low heat. Pour each egg part into a thin layer, by tilting the skillet and/or spreading with a spoon. Cook each side briefly. (Do not brown the egg.)
  2. Roll each egg crepe, and slice into short thin strips. Slice the scallion diagonally into thin strips. Roast the gim on a hot skillet. Cut into thin 1 1/2-inch strips with kitchen shears, or simply crush them with hands.

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Vegetable Broth for Korean Cooking

Learn how to make Korean vegetable broth for your Korean soups and stews! It’s super easy to make and requires very few ingredients.

Vegetable broth in a jar and a measuring cup

In my previous post, 15 Korean Vegan Recipes, I mentioned that many classic Korean dishes can easily be veganized. You can make the dishes like bibimbap or japchae vegan simply by omitting the meat and the egg. For soups and stews, you will need to substitute the meat or anchovy broth with vegetable broth. Here’s how to make Korean vegetable broth!

Making Korean broth at home is really easy! More so with vegetable broth. It doesn’t take much time and requires very few ingredients.

Ingredients for Korean vegetable broth

Called chaesu (채수) in Korean, vegetable broth can be made with a variety of ingredients. However, there are a few vegetables that are typically used to make Korean broth. They are dried dashima (다시마, aka kombu), dried shiitake mushrooms (pyeo-go beoseot, 표고버섯), Korean radish (mu, 무), large scallions (daepa, 대파), and onion.

For rich, flavorful vegetable broth, dried dashima and dried shiitake mushrooms are the two most important ingredients. They are good sources of glutamic acid, an amino acid responsible for savory taste and full of nutrients. If you make Korean food often, dried dashima and shiitake are must-haves in your pantry!

Dried kelp and shiitake mushrooms

Korean radish lends a refreshing taste to the broth, and scallions and onion add natural sweetness. You can also use vegetable scraps, such as cabbage cores, mushroom stems, onion peels, carrot peels, etc.

In this recipe, I used several of the classic Korean broth ingredients. Sometimes, I only use dashima, and other times I also use shiitake mushrooms and more. It’s that versatile! Also, the amounts of vegetables in this recipe are only guidelines. You can certainly use more or less.

How to make vegetable broth 

The simplest vegetable broth in Korean cooking is dashima broth. All it takes is a few minutes of boiling dashima pieces. To maximize the flavor, pre-soak the dashima for 30 minutes or longer before boiling it. The white powder on the surface is the natural flavor enhancer, so don’t wash it off. 

Another option is to use dried shiitake mushrooms along with dashima. The resulting broth is quite rich and flavorful! This broth is very common in Korean temple cooking. Shiitake mushrooms are full of earthy, savory flavors, which intensify when dried. The liquid from reconstituting dried shiitake mushrooms is good broth by itself. Save the liquid to use in a sauce, soup or stew. 

Sometimes, I throw in some onion to round up the earthy, savory flavors of the broth with natural sweetness of the onion.

Finally, for more depth and complexity, use Korean radish, large scallions, dried chili pepper flakes and/or vegetable scraps, such as cabbage cores, mushroom stems, onion peels, carrot peels, etc.

Korean vegetable broth through a strainer

I used this batch to make vegan doenjang jjigae and baechu doenjang guk. They were delicious! This can be a base for many other Korean recipes, in place of the meat or anchovy broth, such as manduguk, tteokguk, kongnamul guk, mu guk, kimchi jjigae, soondubu jjigae, jjambbong, gyeranjjim, and janchi guksu.

Have you tried this Korean vegetable broth recipe?  Please rate the recipe below by either clicking the stars in the recipe card or in the comment section! And make sure to share your creations by tagging me on Instagram! Stay in touch by following me on Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Vegetable Broth for Korean Cooking

Learn how to make Korean vegetable broth for your Korean soups and stews! It’s super easy to make and requires very few ingredients.

  • 2 pieces dashima (about 4 inch square)
  • 2 to 3 shiitake mushrooms
  • 1/2 medium onion (cut into chunks)
  • 6 ounces Korean radish (cut into chunks)
  • 2 scallions (1 if using large one, daepa or 1/2 leek)
  • 3 to 4 ounces green cabbage cores and leaves
  • 2 dried red chili peppers or 1 teaspoon peppercorns – optional
  1. Soak the dashima and shiitake mushrooms for about 30 minutes in a large pot with 10 cups of water. You can skip soaking if you don’t have time, but soaking maximizes the flavor of the broth. 

  2. Add the other vegetables you’re using to the pot. 

  3. Bring it to a boil over high heat and boil, covered, for 10 minutes. Remove the dashima. Reduce the heat to medium, and continue to boil, for about 20 minutes. Turn the heat off. Let the broth cool.
  4. Pour the broth through a strainer into a large bowl. Press the vegetables with a spoon or spatula to squeeze out any remaining broth.

  5. Store the broth in the fridge up to a week, or in the freezer up to 2 months.

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Easy Kimchi Recipe using the Blender!

Easy Kimchi recipe using the blender!!! This easy and simple Kimchi is also lighter and more refreshing than most – making it as wonderful as the Kimjang kimchis I ate at home in Korea. Easy Kimchi recipe that is simple to make but also totally authentic tasting at the same time. Basically, I wanted a…

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15 Korean Vegan Recipes

A collection of easy, delicious Korean vegan recipes!
a list of 15 Korean Vegan Recipes

Happy New Year! According to the news media, 2019 will be “the Year of the Vegan.” For those of you who are looking for Korean vegan recipes, here’s a collection of easy, delicious recipes! From kimchi to noodles, this list features a nice variety of recipes for your Korean vegan table! Even if you are not on a vegan or vegetarian diet, these recipes will help you add more plant-based foods to your diet for a healthy New Year.   

If you think Korean food is all about BBQ meat and fried chicken, think again! Traditionally, Korean cuisine relies heavily on grains, legumes, and vegetables. Meat was scarce, so our ancestors didn’t eat so much meat as we do in modern days.

Also, Korean temple cooking is entirely plant-based, using seasonal ingredients which are mostly grown in temple grounds or harvested from fields and mountains. No meat or seafood allowed! Due to the long history of Buddhism in Korea, temple cuisine (사찰음식) is deeply incorporated into traditional Korean cuisine. 

For these reasons, so many classic Korean dishes are naturally vegan (or vegetarian) or can easily be veganized!

This list doesn’t include all the vegan banchan included in my 15 Korean Vegetable Side Dishes. Check them out as well! They are very easy to make and will complement just about any main dish!

1. Hobak Buchim  (Zucchini Pancakes)

Hobak buchimgae (Korean zucchini pancake)

2. Buchujeon (Garlic Chives Pancake) 

Buchujeon (Korean garlic chive pancakes)

3. Zucchini Dumplings (Hobak Mandu) 

Zucchini dumplings

4. Eggplant Rolls (Gaji mari) 

Eggplant rolls

5. Vegan Kimchi 

Best Vegan kimchi recipe

6. Kongnamul Japchae 

Kongnamul Japchae (Japchae with soybean sprouts

7. Tofu Gimbap

tofu gimbap recipe

8. Tofu bibimbap

Korean rice bowl with tofu and vegetables

9. Deulkkae Soondubu Jjigae (Soft Tofu Stew with Perilla Seeds) 

Soft tofu stew with perilla seeds

10. Mu Doenjangguk (Soybean Paste Radish Soup)

Mu Doenjang Guk (Korean Soybean Paste Radish Soup)

11. Beoseot Jeongol (Mushroom Hotpot)

Mushroom hot pot (Beoseot jeongol)

12. Dubu Jorim (Braised Tofu)

Braised tofu on a plate

13. Gamja Jorim (Braised Potatoes)

Gamja jorim (Soy braised potatoes)

14. Kongguksu (Chilled Soy Milk Noodle Soup)

Thin wheat noodles in chilled savory soy milk

15. Hobakjuk (Pumpkin Porridge)

Korean pumpkin porridge made with kabocha pumpkin

Give these recipes a try and let me know what you think! I’d love to hear from you.

Wishing you and your family a happy and healthy 2019!

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K-Pop Album Giveaway #3: EXO

EXO's 4th album The WarK-pop album giveaway #3 – EXO’s 4th album! Bringing more cheer to your kitchen with exciting music from one of Korea’s hottest boybands. Have a great start to 2019!! I hope you had a great start to your New Year!!  Congratulations to the winners of my first and second K-pop giveaways. I’m sorry I’m a bit late…

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10 Delicious Ways to Eat Kimchi (includes Korean Recipes)

A collage image of different kimchi dishes10 Delicious ways to eat Kimchi using my top 10 recipes using Kimchi. From stews and stir-fries to pancakes and dumplings, these recipes with Kimchi prove just how versatile kimchi is and how kimchi makes everything taste soo good!! Kimchi lovers, I’m sharing with you 10 ways to eat kimchi other than as a side…

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9 Great Korean Restaurant Franchises (and bad ones) 2019


There’s something I’d say for Korea that I wouldn’t say for America–there are some freakin’ good restaurant franchises that I’d recommend even over independent restaurants. Their quality is consistently good. These Korean restaurant franchises would also be great brands to export.

I’m leaving out the fried chicken and non-Korean-food franchises as they require separate posts. There are many other franchises out there, and some are good. But they’re either not great (Bon Juk, Baekje Samgyetang), or they are inconsistent (Andong Jjimdalk, Omogari Kimchi Jjigae).


NEW for 2019: Maetdollo-man 맷돌로만

Maetdollo-man 맷돌로만

Even though the name sounds like a superhero, it means something like, “Only from the Millstone.”

This is my new favorite franchise, and they’re expanding rapidly. They specialize in tofu. Housemade tofu. They make it out front behind the window for everyone to see. Korean tofu converts people who hate tofu. It has a rough masculine quality.

Maetdollo-man 맷돌로만Dubu Jeon

Get their Dubu Bossam set, which includes some tender pork belly with tofu and wraps. Also get their Dubu Jeon, which is a crunchy pancake made solely out of tofu. Pure protein.

I can’t find a website for them, and it looks like each one of their storefronts is slightly different. Just copy and paste 맷돌로만 on Google and Naver.

Won Halmoni Bossam 원할머니 보쌈


Yeah, it’s just bossam. But it is consistently good. We tend to get it delivered, but I think it’s best in the restaurant itself. The banchan is always diverse and tasty, including that sweet, fruity fresh kimchi. They have lunch specials that will fill you up.

Sae Maul Sikdang 새마을 식당


This Korean restaurant chain has been getting quite popular with Koreans and expats. They are part of this 1970s nostalgic trend. Look at the lattice-work on the doors and the general feel of the place. Some locations even have marshaling anthems blaring outside, harkening back to, um, simpler times?

I’ve been a fan of their hangjeongsal and geopdaegi (pork skin), but the thing to order (thanks, Lisa Kelley) is the Yeoltan Bulgogi 열탄불고기. It’s shaved pork smothered in spicy sauce. Toss that on the grill and make sure you have your favorite bev handy.

This is the star franchise of celebrity chef Paik Jong-won. This guy is notorious for sticking his face on EVERYTHING. The guy has franchises for most any product, including coffee. Most of his franchises suck, but this is the one good one.

Paik Jong-won

Look for the place with the yellow roof.

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Jaws Tteokbokki 죠스 떡뽂이

The legend of Jaws goes like this. A guy quit his job and wanted to start a tteokbokki hut. Yet he didn’t know the first thing about making it. He spent months in the kitchen perfecting his recipe. The result is a spicy and addictive tteokbokki. But Jaws doesn’t stop there. They also serve a meaty soondae sausage, hearty odeng fish cakes, and super light and crispy twigim (tempura). I like mixing it all together with the thick tteokbokki sauce.

Orai Sutbul DalkGalbi 오라이숫불닭갈비


When I was in Chuncheon, the DalkGalbi capital of the world, I noticed that there were restaurants serving a sutbul (charcoal-grilled) version. Soon after, this Orai opened in my town of Anyang.

This is great stuff! Dark meat chicken marinated in a sweet spicy sauce and thrown on the charcoal grill in front of you. Yes, you don’t get the usual fried rice at the end, but by then you’re on your third order. It’s reasonably priced as well. One order will feed two people–or one Joe. I’ve had this at another location in Seoul, and it is just as good there.

Nolboo 놀부


Credit: Xin Li 88 on Flickr (cc)

Nolboo is hard to peg. They’re a brand that has many different types of Korean restaurants. Some do Budae Jjigae, some do Clay Pot Duck, some do Galbi Jjim. In most cases, they serve high quality versions of whatever dish they specialize in. The Clay Pot Duck, Yuhwang Ori 유황오리, is the closest you get to Thanksgiving dinner in a Korean restaurant. The duck is stuffed with rice, various seeds, fruits, and Chinese medicinal ingredients. It’s then baked in a clay pot for a few hours. The result is this steamy tender meat with this aromatic stuffing. Bring a bottle of pinot noir for this one.

The Budae Jjigae restaurants do the classic “army base stew” with the classic spam and hot dogs. But they also add little bonuses like pepperoni. Their Galbi Jjim restaurants serve taste-bud-obliterating spicy ribs that I can’t get enough of.

O’Sulloc 오설록

Credit: fabonthemoon on Flickr (cc)

They’re not really a restaurant. They’re a tea purveyor. They have cafes in Insa-dong and around town. They open booths in high end department stores. O’Sulloc is a Jeju-based green tea producer that has shown how world class Korean tea can be. They’re not cheap, but unlike many Korean companies that sell products at premium prices, O’Sulloc’s teas are truly premium. Their basic green tea, which they roast and brew for free samples in Insa-dong, packs so much of a punch that you won’t return to the sawdust in the teabags. The complexity makes it so interesting. They don’t just do green tea. O’Sulloc carries a large swath of flavored and themed teas. They even have some super posh black box teas. Most of them would make perfect gifts. Luckily, ZenKimchi’s office is on the edge of Insa-dong, so I get to smell the aroma of the roasting tea as I pass by.

Gogung 고궁

Based in Jeonju, home of the pinnacle of bibimbaps, Gogung brings this famous dish in its most Platonic ideal. When you see gorgeous colorful photos of bibimbap, this is the type they serve. The signature Jeonju bibimbap comes in a brass bowl and is chock full of little goodies, complete with the raw egg yolk that binds it together after mixing. You usually find branches in department stores. There’s a big restaurant in the basement of the Samziegil building in Insa-dong. If you can’t make it to Jeonju, try it here.

Bukchon Son Mandu 북촌손만두

They’re not that widespread. I think they’re only north of the river. Bukchon Mandu makes their dumplings fresh. You can see them wrapping them in the open window where people pick them up to eat on the street or take home. Their Manduguk (mandu soup) warms you up and fills you up for the afternoon. Make sure to get some of those Sae-oo Mandu (Shrimp Mandu, pictured above). Likely, you’ll get more.

Not-so-great Korean Restaurant Franchises

And these either suck the soul out of Korean food or are just poorly executed.



Oh, the things that continue to be wrong with this concept! I had already told you the story on how CJ approached me and a few others to help organize market testing with westerners for a bibimbap concept they were planning to take overseas. The original restaurant was Cafe Sobahn, which was pretty cool. The sprouts they grew hydroponically in the shop. You could see them. After trying and rating different dishes, they ended the testing by saying, “We’re thinking of going with the name Bibigo. What do you think of that name?”

The group unanimously said it was a horrible name. The CJ manager took the results to his superiors. The superiors looked at it and tossed the results away, along with Cafe Sobahn itself. They didn’t fit with what they planned.

A disaster

The result has been one of many money pits for the CJ conglomerate. The only reason the Bibigo branches in the U.S. and even in Seoul have stayed afloat is that CJ’s deep pockets are patching the holes. They use the franchise to boast to the Korean public that they’re spreading Korean cuisine. But few have asked them whatever happened to their prediction to have many more restaurants open than they have now.

It’s a money suck. The exec in charge of this has famously compared herself to Steve Jobs, which is her excuse for not paying attention to market research. She doesn’t realize that Steve Jobs could get away with it because–he was Steve jobs. Every move they have done has been crass and out of touch with the market. But hey! They got Psy!

(What’s funny is that Psy was the face for Nolboo before he came out with Gangnam Style.)

Bulgogi Bros.


Korea’s answer to TGI McChilibee’s. They try to do the chain casual dining fern bar concept a la Outback. This could have worked. Unfortunately, like so many prepped up Korean endeavors, they somehow surgically removed all the fun, flavor, and excitement of Korean BBQ while upping the price, pairing it with Yellow Tail Merlot.

Myeong-dong Gyoja


Oh, I’m going to get my ass chewed for this one. But I seriously don’t see what the hype is about this beyond being an institution. It’s like how I don’t get The Varsity in Atlanta. Everyone says you have to go there, but unless you’re sentimental for it, it is disappointing.

I’ll say this, the broth in the Kalguksu is fine. But that’s about it. The meat is grisly and low quality. The dumplings are just the same as you’d get anywhere else. And that kimchi–it’s god awful! It’s like they put no jeotgal in it and just doused it in raw garlic and gochugaru. You only eat the kimchi because there’s no other option. There are many much better kalguksu joints in Korea, like Hwangsaengga Kalguksu in Bukchon and even the little makguksu-kalguksu place that opened near Beomgye in Anyang.

Myeong-dong Gyoja is just hype for tourists.

Chef’s Guksu 쉐프의국수


If you’re easily impressed by gimmicks, this is your place. Actually, their fire beef sushi isn’t bad. But the namesake noodles are dull, dull, dull. It should be a blinking warning when a restaurant imprints their logo on the egg in your bowl.

Shinpo Uri Mandu 신포 우리 만두


2013-07-17 20.26.45


They supposedly specialize in mandu. It’s in their freakin’ name! The frozen mandu given out as free samples at E-Mart are better.

Grainy. Mealy. Tasteless.

So you know it’s only downhill when you try their non-mandu items.

What great (or bad) Korean food franchises am I leaving out? Say so in the comments.

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2018 – Well, that didn’t go as planned


Generally this year has not been bad, but it didn’t go the way I thought it would at the beginning. Specifically, the dropshipping stuff was about as much of a dud as my swing trading was in 2017 and my restaurants were in 2016.

I’m still holding on to ZenKimchi Store and GeekDrink. They make enough money to pay for themselves, but that’s it. I make little profit from them.


Anthony Bourdain’s suicide hit me hard. I’m still dissonant from that. It looks like I’m capitalizing by featuring him on our BBQ tour, but I mourn him every time I’m in that restaurant. We talk about him on the tours, and that’s my therapy.

This was the year I felt like we were stalling, and I feel I need to push us more aggressively forward. We moved to a lesser apartment this summer. It has a homey feel, but it’s a definite downgrade. EJ is finally realizing that. She hates our old place, but I miss it. 

As for work, I had a nervous breakdown in February. I had agreed a few months earlier to take on a couple pilot kindergarten classes at the part-time job I worked at. I realized while chasing kids around the classroom that I had just reverted back to my first year in Korea. Fourteen years, and here I was back where I started.

The tail end of this year, I focused on making a big career change. I’m giving Korea one last push. If it doesn’t work out here soon, it’s time to leave. Jian needs to work on her English anyway. I’m looking at jobs outside Korea. 

There’s a business project some of us are working on. I really hope it bears fruit. I’m counting on this as being my last attempt. I have such start-up fatigue. I remember back in 2000, I was helping some tech guys start a new company. “Internet Racers” or something like that? The main guy behind it was part of the group that came up with the JPEG standard. 

That went nowhere. All the startups I’ve been involved in have gone nowhere. No, that’s not true. The tours have worked.

Generally, this year has been blah. Not much happened. I had a steady part-time job that kept things sort of stable while I worked on the tour business. I had no special projects until the Sexy Chef Calendar at the end of the year. 

I see this more as an incubation year.

2014 was a pinnacle. So much happened. Working with Anthony Bourdain and reaching a lot of my career goals (minus boodles of money) peaked that year. 2015 I was figuring out what to do after I lost my job and my focus. 2016 was the restaurant year. 2017 was a recovery year from the restaurants and my injuries from post-restaurant stress.

This year I had more recovery. Physically, my back was still rough. I will never run, nor ride a roller coaster, nor do anything that will involve spinal stress again. It’s too messed up. My spinal doctor was at a loss as to where my pain was coming from. My brain from the seizure feels like it’s recovered well. I’m back to sleeping normal hours, instead of 10-hour slumbers with full disorientation all day long. My mind is feeling sharper again. 

I gotta do some type of career change. I can’t be The Korean Food Guy, like my original hope was 15 years ago. I’m not Korean. The way the climate is these days, ethnicity bears more weight than experience and passion. I’ll just move on.

The good thing this year was spending more quality time with Jian. Not as much as I’d like, but it has been definitely more than when I worked at the restaurants. 

I’m planning to play it more cautiously this year. No big goals other than to work hard at whatever I’m working at. 

I want a vacation for once. 

The post 2018 – Well, that didn’t go as planned appeared first on ZenKimchi.

Kimchi Mandu (Kimchi Dumplings)

These Korean dumplings filled with a kimchi mixture are highly popular in Korea. If you like kimchi, you’ll love this dumpling recipe. Kimchi adds tons of spicy and savory flavors!

Kimchi mandu (Korean dumplings made with kimchi)

What’s your favorite dumpling variation? These Korean dumplings filled with a kimchi mixture, kimchi mandu (김치 만두), are highly popular in Korea. Needless to say, kimchi adds tons of spicy and savory flavors to the dumplings.

Kimchi mandu is great for making soup, manduguk (dumpling soup) or tteok-manduguk (a variation of rice cake soup, tteokguk, with dumplings), which is a must-eat New Year’s dish. As such, it’s a popular dumpling variation for the New Year’s feast. Kimchi mandu gives nice flavor and textural contrasts to the mildly flavored broth and soft rice cake slices.

In Korea, steamed kimchi mandu is also popular as a street food and at restaurants.

Kimchi mandu (Korean dumplings made with kimchi)

In preparation of the upcoming New Year’s feast, I’ve updated my kimchi mandu recipe, which was originally posted in January 2012, with new photos and an improved recipe.

Kimchi dumpling filling

Typically, kimchi dumplings are filled with a mixture of kimchi, pork, tofu, bean sprouts, onions, and scallions. In this updated recipe, I also used sweet potato starch noodles, called dangmyeon (당면), which is also common in mandu fillings.

The key to making good kimchi mandu is to use fully fermented kimchi. I usually add some gochugaru (Korean red chili pepper flakes) for extra spicy dumplings, but you can skip it or use less (or more) to your taste.

By now, you all know kimchi and pork are a classic match in Korean cooking, but feel free to use beef or other protein if preferred. You can also replace the meat with mushrooms. Or, simply omit the meat, and increase the other ingredients such as kimchi, tofu, etc. If you start with vegan or vegetarian kimchi, you can even make the dumplings vegan.

Finally, if you have perilla seed oil, try using it instead of sesame oil. It lends a distinct nutty flavor to the kimchi filling. It’s even better if you add ground perilla seeds if available! Mix in a generous amount and enjoy the complexity of the flavors it adds to the dumplings.

 Korean dumplings made with kimchi

How to fold dumplings

As I said in my other mandu recipe, a dumpling can be fold in many different ways. The easiest is a half-moon shape, which you can do by simply folding the dumpling wrap in half and sealing it by tightly pinching the edges together. Typically, dumplings made for soups are shaped to a round by glueing the ends of the half-moon shape. Wet the edges of store-bought dumpling wrappers so they can be glued together. Be light on the filling for easier folding and crimping.

More dumpling recipes

Mandu (Korean dumplings)

Saewu (shrimp) mandu – with homemade wrappers

Hobak (zucchini) mandu – vegan

Have you tried this dumpling recipe?  Please rate the recipe below by either clicking the stars in the recipe card or in the comment section! And make sure to share your creations by tagging me on Instagram! Stay in touch by following me on Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Korean dumplings with kimchi

Kimchi mandu (kimchi dumplings)

These Korean dumplings filled with a kimchi mixture are highly popular in Korea. If you like kimchi, you’ll love this dumpling recipe. Kimchi adds tons of spicy and savory flavors!

  • Makes about 40 dumplings
  • 40 dumpling wrappers (slightly thick)


  • 1.5 ounces dangmyeon (sweet potato starch noodles, soaked in warm water for about 30 min.)
  • 1 cup packed finely chopped kimchi
  • 8 ounces tofu
  • 10 ounces mung bean sprouts, sukju namul (숙주나물)
  • 1/2 medium onion
  • 2 to 3 scallions
  • 8 ounces ground pork or beef (or mix)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated ginger or juiced
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon gochugaru (adjust to taste)
  • salt to taste (about 1/4 teaspoon)
  • pepper to taste (about 1/8 teaspoon)

Optional ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon Perilla seed oil (in lieu of sesame oil)
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons ground perilla seeds
  1. Finely chop the kimchi and squeeze out excess liquid by hand.
  2. Blanch the bean sprouts in boiling water, drain, chop and squeeze out water.
  3. Squeeze out water from the tofu. Using a cheesecloth will make squeezing easier. Finely chop the noodles. Finely chop the onion and squeeze out water. Finely chop the scallions.

  4. Combine all the filling ingredients in a large bowl. Mix well by hand.
  5. Place one heaping teaspoonful to a tablespoon of the filling on a wrapper. Wet the edges of the wrapper with water or egg wash and seal tightly (pushing the air out with your fingers) into a half-moon shape. (Stop here if you want a half-moon shape dumpling.) Then, bring the two ends together, apply water or egg wash to one end and press tightly to create a round shape. Repeat this process until all the filling/wrappers are used.
  6. Kimchi mandu can be steamed for about 10 minutes in a steamer (12 min if frozen). Make sure to line the steamer with a wet cheesecloth, paper towel, or cabbage leaves to prevent mandu from sticking.

  7. For boiling, pan-frying and deep-frying dumplings, see my other mandu recipe.

Kimchi mandu is well seasoned, but you can serve them with a dipping sauce if preferred. 

Tips for freezing: Freeze the dumplings on a tray with no pieces touching for about an hour, and then store them in a freezer bag. Otherwise, the skins will get soggy from the moisture in the filling and stick together in the freezing process.

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