This vegan kimchi mandu uses crumbled extra-firm tofu as the protein. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)

This vegan kimchi mandu uses crumbled extra-firm tofu as the protein. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)

Meditating on the new year with kimchi mandu

Artfully folding dumplings evokes the peace and thoughtful calm of the Year of the Rabbit

This past Sunday was the Lunar New Year and the end of the Year of the Tiger.

As a tiger myself, the year was full of high highs and low lows. Years of your birth sign are traditionally tumultuous — unless you happen to get married or have a baby in that year — and despite my best efforts, I quite unfortunately did not. Although I am conscious of the fleeting nature of life, and I seek every day to be presently appreciative of my time here, a part of me is relieved to see the year ended and behind me.

It is now the Year of the Rabbit, or, in some traditions, the Year of the Cat. While the Year of the Tiger called for decisiveness, as tigers are courageous and bold, rabbits are quiet and cautious, so this is a year for peace and thoughtful calm. People born under the sign of the Rabbit are quick-witted, pensive, creative, and tactical. If your birth year is 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999 or 2011, you are a Rabbit.

For our New Year’s celebration this year I made a batch of kimchi mandu. The process of finely mincing all the ingredients and slowly, artfully folding each dumpling provided a quiet opportunity to meditate and set my intention for the coming year.

Although ground pork is generally traditional, I chose a vegan version using crumbled extra-firm tofu as the protein. Also traditionally included are potato starch noodles but I couldn’t find any, so I used soaked bean thread noodles instead.

Happy year of the Rabbit to you all! May you receive many blessings and enjoy a blissfully tranquil year.

Vegan kimchi mandu


¾ block of extra-firm tofu, crumbled

2 tablespoons finely minced fresh ginger

10 cloves finely minced garlic

4 stalks green onion, finely minced

½ cup finely minced onion

2 ounces bean thread noodles

1 cup kimchi, chopped fine

2 tablespoons sesame oil

1-2 tablespoons Korean red pepper paste (adjust for spiciness)

1 tablespoon soy sauce

½ teaspoon salt

Black pepper to taste

1 package wonton wrappers (usually 45-50 wrappers)


Soak your bean thread noodles in hot water until soft. Strain and chop into pieces no longer than ½ inch and place in a large mixing bowl.

Using your knife, scrape the tofu until it crumbles. Do this until the tofu almost resembles a paste. Wrap in a clean kitchen towel and wring out the excess water. Add to the bowl.

Chop the kimchi very fine and squeeze out the excess liquid. You want the filling to be as dry as possible. Add to the bowl.

Prepare the rest of the filling ingredients and add to your mixing bowl.

Mix thoroughly — a gloved hand works best for this.

Unwrap your wonton wrappers and wrap in a damp paper towel or kitchen cloth. This will keep them from drying out while you work.

Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper as your landing zone and a small bowl of water to wet your fingers.

Take a wrapper in your hand and using a wet finger moisten the edge of two sides.

Place a teaspoon of filling in the center and fold up, corner to corner to make a triangle shape.

Press out the excess air as you pinch the edges to seal.

Wet one bottom corner of the triangle and pull the other bottom corner over to meet it and seal, creating a circle shape.

Fold the top corner down over the back of the dumpling and set on the baking tray.

Repeat until all the filling or all the wrappers are gone, whichever comes first. If you have excess filling, make some fried rice with it.

Freeze solid on the tray and transfer to a freezer bag and store for up to 3 months.

To serve:

Steam for 6 minutes (8 minutes if frozen) and serve immediately. You can also add them to soup or deep fry them, although I think steamed is best. Make sure your steamer is lined with cloth or cabbage leaves so they won’t stick.

More in Life

Minister’s Message: How to grow old and not waste your life

At its core, the Bible speaks a great deal about the time allotted for one’s life

Kirsten Dunst, Wagner Moura and Stephen McKinley Henderson appear in “Civil War.” (Promotional photo courtesy A24)
Review: An unexpected battle for empathy in ‘Civil War’

Garland’s new film comments on political and personal divisions through a unique lens of conflict on American soil

What are almost certainly members of the Grönroos family pose in front of their Anchor Point home in this undated photograph courtesy of William Wade Carroll. The cabin was built in about 1903-04 just north of the mouth of the Anchor River.
Fresh Start: The Grönroos Family Story— Part 2

The five-member Grönroos family immigrated from Finland to Alaska in 1903 and 1904

Aurora Bukac is Alice in a rehearsal of Seward High School Theatre Collective’s production of “Alice in Wonderland” at Seward High School in Seward, Alaska, on Thursday, April 11, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Seward in ‘Wonderland’

Seward High School Theatre Collective celebrates resurgence of theater on Eastern Kenai Peninsula

These poppy seed muffins are enhanced with the flavor of almonds. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
The smell of almonds and early mornings

These almond poppy seed muffins are quick and easy to make and great for early mornings

Bill Holt tells a fishing tale at Odie’s Deli on Friday, June 2, 2017 in Soldotna, Alaska. Holt was among the seven storytellers in the latest session of True Tales Told Live, an occasional storytelling event co-founded by Pegge Erkeneff, Jenny Nyman, and Kaitlin Vadla. (Ben Boettger/Peninsula Clarion file)
Storytelling series returns with tales about ‘making the most of it’

The next True Tales, Told Live will be held Friday, April 12 at The Goods Sustainable Grocery starting at 6:30 p.m.

Nick Varney
Unhinged Alaska: Sometimes they come back

This following historical incident resurfaced during dinner last week when we were matching, “Hey, do you remember when…?” gotchas

Art by Soldotna High School student Emily Day is displayed as part of the 33rd Annual Visual Feast at the Kenai Art Center on Wednesday, April 3, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Creating art and artists

Exhibition showcases student talent and local art programs

The Canadian steamship Princess Victoria collided with an American vessel, the S.S. Admiral Sampson, which sank quickly in Puget Sound in August 1914. (Otto T. Frasch photo, copyright by David C. Chapman, “O.T. Frasch, Seattle” webpage)
Fresh Start: The Grönroos Family Story — Part 1

The Grönroos family settled just north of the mouth of the Anchor River

Most Read