The only thing better than a good recipe? When something’s so easy that you don’t even need one. Welcome to It’s That Simple, a column where we talk you through the dishes and drinks we can make with our eyes closed.
One of my favorite weekend activities is to peruse the aisles of the grocery store in the early morning. I take my time, poke around the condiment section, peek through piles of produce to know what’s in season, and ponder which shape of pasta I want to cook up for the week.
My excitement for grocery shopping escalates 10-fold when it’s time for me to visit California Market, a beautiful, modern Korean grocery store in the heart of Koreatown, Los Angeles. It is here where I partake in a once-a-month, pedal to the metal, all-out shopping extravaganza.
I stock up on dried noodles, instant ramens, Kewpie mayo, several kinds of kimchi, and most importantly, about a dozen styles of frozen dumplings. I pan-fry them and drizzle them with chili crisp when I need a quick snack. I throw them into my instant Shin Ramen for when I need a little more heft. And I even eat them on top of salad, thanks to a genius Hetty Lui McKinnon recipe aptly called “Dumpling Salad” that I frequent from her book To Asia With Love.
But in these cold winter months, the dish I turn to for a warming, comforting meal is dumpling soup. Inspired by a Korean dish called mandu-guk, it’s got tortellini en brodo vibes, with your pick of vegetables and silky egg ribbons. It’s dead simple to make and ready in under 10 minutes.
Here’s how to make Mandu-Guk-Inspired Frozen Dumpling Soup:
This is a single serving (lucky you). In a medium saucepan over medium heat, add a drizzle of sesame oil, 3 scallions, thinly sliced, and 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped. Sauté until they sweat—you’re not looking for color, just to soften.
Add 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth, a splash of soy sauce, and a pinch of salt. This is where this dish becomes highly riffable: Drop in a fistful of veggies like thinly shredded cabbage or sliced carrots—whatever you have on-hand. Once the broth comes to a boil, add some frozen dumplings. I usually go for five, but adjust to the amount you’re hankering for. I prefer a pork-based dumpling, so it adds a little richness to the broth, but any style works. Drop the dumplings in the broth and let simmer for 3–4 minutes.
While the dumplings are cooking, grab 1 egg and scramble it in a small bowl. Slowly drizzle the egg into the simmering broth to create fluffy ribbons. Finish with cracked pepper, chili oil, toasted sesame seeds, and/or sliced scallion.