Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Mandoo (만두)

Mandoo, or mandu (만두), are the Korean equivalent of postickers, gyoza, dumplings, whatever you want to call them.

I learned to make mandoo when I was a small child, practically at my mother's knee. My sister and I loved making mandoo- we were rather girly girls that enjoyed sitting inside, drawing, reading, talking, and cooking. It was kind of a "Little House on the Prairie" childhood, idyllic and calm. We never broke any bones, we rarely got scratches or bruises, and we didn't fight with one another.

Making mandoo, I think, is one of those things (like making jeon) that brought my mother, sister, and me together. We talked, we laughed, we watched animated movies or Korean dramas, and we made mandoo.

We almost always made the dumplings with tofu filling, no meat. I loved them, but asked my mother one day why we didn't use meat. She told me that it was because she didn't want to have to worry about undercooked meat, and I still use that logic today. Plus, since I am alone out here, it takes me three times as long to make mandoo- I don't want to leave raw meat just sitting there while I'm making the dumplings.

I've always used pre-packaged gyoza skins, because they're very convenient and easy. They taste just fine and they're already rolled out and cut into perfect circles- what could be better?

This past weekend, I was at home, sick, and decided that I wanted to make mandoo. I didn't want to leave the house, I was miserably sick, and the urge to make mandoo was overwhelming. So I did what any other insane sick person would do: I made my own mandoo skins. Yes, totally insane.
I prepped the filling first- tofu, Korean chili, and kimchi. The chili and kimchi needs to be minced fine, the tofu needs to be strained and mashed. I threw some fish sauce, soy sauce, and a little sesame oil into the mix, along with a few cloves of minced garlic. (If the vegetables aren't minced fine, they'll poke through the dumpling skins.)
Then came the dough. Easiest thing to do: flour and warm water. Add some water to some flour and stir (I used long chopsticks, but I assume forks or spoons or whatever would work). Keep adding water, a little at a time, until the dough clumps together, as above.
I rolled the dough into logs, snipped the logs into pieces, and then smushed the pieces down to form discs.
The pieces get rolled out thin with a rolling pin. They don't have to be perfect circles, and really, they won't be. The shaping of the dumplings is where the shape comes in handy- some of my skins were oblong, some were almost squarish, but they mostly looked uniform after I had made the dumplings.
I used a wooden spoon to thin out the edges of the roundish shape- the edges get crimped and stuck together, so they should be thinner than the middle. I love this wooden spoon. I have two of them- one in my coffee jar, one for odds and ends like this one. My mother let me bring these spoons to Albuquerque with me.
Since I learned to make potstickers as a kid, it's pretty much second nature to me. These skins are totally foreign to me. Pre-packaged gyoza wrappers have no stretch or give AT ALL. These floury things were loose, stretchy, pliable, and totally freaked me out. After about four or five, I got the hang of it. I found that it's easier to crimp just one side of the dumpling (with pre-packaged wrappers, I crimp both sides) and to use the stretch in my favor.
The bottoms get dusted with flour before going onto a sheet tray lined with parchment and heading to the freezer.
A few of the mandoos were destined to be my dinner. I like to pan fry the dumplings all the way around, on all three sides, rather than the more typical method of frying the bottom then steaming. This is also where the no-raw-meat comes in handy, because I can fry all three sides and eat the things without wondering if the meat in the very center has cooked completely or not.

They were delicious. I didn't make very many (maybe 40?), but now that I know how very easy it is to make my own wrappers, this may become a more regular thing that I do (when I have time).

The kimchi filling is really very good if you start with good kimchi. This is important, because kimchi that gets heated up tastes more like itself than it does while cold. Starting with bad kimchi (read: store-bought) just makes it even worse, so I would never do that (I wouldn't buy kimchi in a store anyway).

Being sick really just makes me want to lie in bed and watch crappy movies, so I'm glad that I did something while I was sick. I'm still not feeling great, but better. Work is distracting me- I was at work for 12 hours yesterday, and will probably end up here late tonight, too.

There are photos to post, things to whine about, but no time to do it all. I'll get there, at some point.


Diana E.S. August 24, 2010 at 3:59 PM  

Thanks for this. I made mandoo in Korea with 만두피, but this doesn't look too hard. Just time consuming.

jeanny August 25, 2010 at 9:32 AM  

I actually had more pictures, but I was lazy and didn't use my flash ... and blurry-palooza.

I'm going to make some more 만두 this weekend, I'll document better. :)