dining out

KOREA: Ginseng mandooguk

Ron Bartels


While contemporary Japanese observe the new year on Jan. 1, Koreans celebrate the Lunar New Year, called seollal. Young Suk Yeom (at right) serves both Korean and Japanese fare at her restaurant, Cafe Hayashi, and shared the recipe for ginseng soup dumplings that her mother made for her family in Korea. “As a young child, we were told that in order to be another year older on new year, we had to eat mandooguk,” said Yeom. “My mom used to add ginseng into soup stock especially in wintertime because she believed ginseng boosts the immune system and decreases colds.” The traditional new year feast also features galbijjim, Korean short ribs. Yeom’s version — sweetened with Asian pear, sweet potato, and jujube — is tender and rich. Side dishes include baek kimchi (white kimchi), bossam (sliced pork belly wrapped in vegetable leaves), vegetable or sliced meat pancakes, namul (seasoned cold vegetables), and sweet rice cakes for dessert. In a new offering, Cafe Hayashi will serve traditional Korean brunches on Sundays starting at 11:30 a.m., with mandooguk as the centerpiece.


5-6cups of gomtang
(recipe provided)
20pieces of frozen dumplings
(recipe provided)
pounds of sliced rice cake
3ounces transparent noodles boiled, rinsed, and drained
1teaspoon kosher salt and pepper to taste
Thin-sliced beef brisket from gomtang

Soak the rice cake slices in cold water for at least 1 hour.

Boil gomtang, then add frozen dumplings. Cook uncovered for three minutes. Add the drained rice cakes and let boil for another minute.


Season the soup with kosher salt and pepper.

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Place noodles into bowls and ladle in soup and dumplings. Garnish with sliced brisket, scrambled egg strips, and chopped green onions. Serves four.

Gomtang (ginseng broth)

3pounds of beef ribs or oxtail and brisket
1root of fresh or dried ginseng
½medium daikon radish, peeled and cut in half
½inch piece of fresh ginger
3whole peeled garlic

Put beef ribs/oxtail and brisket in cold water for about an hour to draw out blood from the beef.

Place bones and brisket in a large stockpot with enough water to cover and bring to a boil just long enough to draw out fat. Discard water and rinse bones and brisket with running water.

Add 2 gallons of cold water and ginseng, radish, garlic, leeks and boil for an hour, then simmer for five hours. Remove brisket, let cool and cut into thin slices.


Allow broth to cool, discard solidified fat and all bones and vegetables.

Mandoo (dumplings)

1pound lean ground beef or pork
1onion, chopped fine
1cup of chopped cabbage, parboiled
1cup mashed tofu
4ounces cooked mung bean or sweet potato noodles
3cloves garlic, mashed
1tablespoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon salt
1teaspoon pepper
1package circular mandoo wrappers (or Japanese gyoza or Chinese wonton wrappers)

Combine meat, onion, cabbage, tofu, and noodles. In a separate bowl, combine garlic, sesame oil, salt, and pepper. Pour seasonings over meat and vegetables and mix with hands.

Place about 1 tablespoon of filling in the center of each dumpling wrapper. Dip your finger in water and wet the outside edge of the top half of the wrapper. Fold the wrapper to close, then crimp the edges. Cook immediately or freeze for later use. Steam, boil, fry, or saute the dumplings.