What's The Difference: Gyoza Vs. Mandu

Both are dumplings, so what makes them different?

IMAGE Shutterstock

The Chinese have influenced many things around the world, including food. Dumplings are especially popular and where we have our beloved siomai, other countries have their favorite dumpling, too. 

Two dumplings look similar, the gyoza and the mandu, but are from different countries. Both are dumplings, so what makes one different from the other? Here's how the gyoza is different from the mandu. 

1 The Japanese gyoza is Chinese, but the Korean mandu may be Turkish in origin.  

Influenced by the Chinese dumpling, the gyoza is the Japanese version of it. Also spelled as "jiaozi" for the Chinese dumpling, these are allegedly shaped like the gold and silver ingot sycee or yuanbao. It was allegedly first eaten in Japan in the 1700s but didn't become popular and more widespread until after the 1900s

The mandu meanwhile has two conflicting theories about its origin. The most popular theory is that Mongolians, not the Chinese, brought the dumpling to the northern part of Korea. Another theory is that it was brought to Korea much earlier by the Turks by way of the Silk Road around the 7th century and was influenced by the Turkish manti

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Mandu from Korea are dumplings.
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2 Gyoza is made with meat. Mandu uses tofu, too.  

The ingredients of the gyoza and mandu differ slightly. While dumplings can be made with any number of fillings, with or without meat, the typical gyoza is made with ground pork and cabbage while the mandu originally was not made with any meat since Buddhism prohibits the consumption of meat at the time when it was allegedly first introduced. That's why you will find mandu commonly filled with crumbled tofu instead of or in addition to the ground meat. 

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This is a Chinese cabbage also known as napa cabbage and Baguio pechay.
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3 Gyoza uses napa cabbage. Mandu uses chives. 

Contrary to what many may think, not all mandu contain kimchi. Instead, mandu uses chopped garlic chives with the meat filling. For the gyoza, the main vegetable in that dumpling is the napa cabbage, also known as the pechay Baguio or Chinese cabbage. Interestingly enough, the napa cabbage is the cabbage used to make traditional kimchi recipe

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The Japanese gyoza are meat-filled dumplings.
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4 Mandu are typically cooked like any dumpling. Gyoza are steam-fried.

In China, dumplings can be cooked in various ways: steamed, boiled, or fried. The mandu can be found cooked like these dumplings.

In Japan, however, the gyoza are typically steamed-fried. You don't need a steamer to cook gyoza. Instead, you'll use the stove and a pan. It's a technique where the gyoza are cooked on an iron plate or a griddle. The gyoza are drizzled with oil to fry the dumpling skins on the outside and then covered to steam and cook the filling on the inside. These are not flipped so the crust is only developed on one side of the gyoza. The result is a delicious combo of crispy yet soft with tender and juicy meat when you take a bite.  

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