Don't worry, you can be a dumpling pro in no time!
Mandu for me, mandu for you!
Wait, what’s mandu? Korean dumplings, man. You’ve probably (hopefully) had them, or something similar, at an Asian restaurant and you know (hopefully) that they are amazing and cannot live another minute without making them at home.
I’m here to show you how.
First, I better just warn you that while these can be a little bit tricksy, you totally got this. I am notoriously bad at making “pretty” food. I don’t have the patience for it. So, if I can make these gorgeous little dumplings, you can make these gorgeous little dumplings. My biggest tip is to take your time, don’t get frustrated, realize that even the ugly ones taste delicious, and use lots of water (more on that later).
Let’s do this!
Since Asian cuisine is not something that I have a ton of experience with cooking myself, we’re starting with a Food Network recipe with just a few tweaks here and there for fun.
First things first, we’re going to brown some ground beef in a bit of sesame oil. I am obsessed with sesame oil. It adds such a great flavor to food. You can use vegetable or canola oil if you are allergic or just don’t want to purchase special oil for this, but you won’t get the same flavor.
Drain the meat.
Finely dice an onion and add it to the hot pan with a bit more sesame oil and cook until the onions are soft, about 3 minutes.
Stir in some cabbage. I used coleslaw mix because I’m lazy. You can certainly finely slice a head of cabbage if you prefer. Cook for three minutes.
Chop up some bean sprouts and a scallion and add that to the pan with some crumbled tofu and minced garlic. Drizzle on a teensy bit of sesame oil and cook for about three minutes.
Add all that goodness to a colander and let it drain for a few minutes.
Pop it all in a large bowl with the cooked ground beef and stir in some hoisin and salt and pepper. Feel free to taste and adjust the seasoning. A bit of sriracha would be delicious in these, though not very authentic.
See? So far, so good. We’re getting to the tricky part.
You’ll need mandu skins or wonton wrappers. I found the round wrappers at an Asian market in my little town. If you don’t have an Asian market or just aren’t interested in making an extra trip, you’re probably going to find the square wonton wrappers. That’s okay! You’ll find these in the produce section of your grocery store, usually near the tofu and vegan cheese.
If you can only find the square wrappers, use a round cookie cutter to cut them into circles. Easy peasy.
Now, add about two teaspoons of filling to the center of your wrapper.
Dip your finger in water and run it along the top part of the wrapper.
Pick the whole thing up and fold the bottom over the filling and press the very top to seal it closed.
Here’s where the water comes in handy. Dip your index finger in water once again and run it down the right side of the wrapper, on the outside, where you’re going to make your pleats.
Put your index finger inside the wrapper and make one pleat. Use your thumb to press the pleat and seal it.
Make two more pleats on that side of the wrapper and then switch to the other side. Don’t forget to add water to the outside where you’re going to pleat it. That was the only way I could get the pleats to stick, and once I figured that trick out, things went much smoother.
Place all your mandu on a cookie sheet lined with plastic wrap. You’ll get about 30 mandu from this recipe.
If you’re moving slowly, keep the finished mandu covered with a second sheet of plastic wrap to prevent them from drying out.
Ready to cook these little guys?
You’ll want a non-stick skillet. Let me repeat: A non-stick skillet. Trust me on that.
Add about one tablespoon of vegetable or canola oil to a 10-inch skillet and turn the heat to medium. Immediately add the mandu, about 5 or 6, depending on how many you can fit without crowding the pan too much. You’ll place them pleated side up.
Cover the pan with a lid and cook about 2 minutes. The bottoms should just be starting to crisp up.
Grab 1/4 cup of water and pour that into the pan and immediately cover the pan back up. The water and oil will splatter and freak out a bit, so be quick to cover the pan.
Cook them for about 4 minutes or until the water has mostly evaporated. Remove the lid and let them continue cooking. The bottoms will crisp back up in about 1 or 2 minutes and you’re done.
Place them on a pretty plate and devour.
I served mine with soy sauce, but they were delicious plain too! Crispy, steamy and the filling had great flavor.
If I can mandu, you can mandu. So, you know ... go forth and make some dumplings!