When most Korean mothers tell their kids that they’re making mandu and to come get some, you don’t expect to have to make it yourself. Not my mom. Not only is she not even there when I go to pick up the mandu, but there’s just a giant tub of filling in the refrigerator and not even any mandu skins (pi) to be seen. So, I have to make a special trip to the market to get some mandu skins. So, I went home, put on some good music, and spent an evening making mandu.
I always prepare everything in advance before I sit down: the filling, the skins, the right-sized spoon, a cold bowl of water and a tray to hold the finished mandu.
You start by spooning enough filling for the middle of the skin, but not too much that it gets overstuffed.
Then, you dip your finger in the water and wet about 60% of the edges (you want to do more than 1/2 since when you put in the folds, you’ll end up using more than half the skin edge. The water helps seal the skin and keep the folds together.
Then you take your thumb and forefingers of both hands to make the ripples, poking with the forefinger of your right hand as you pinch with your left. You’ll get the hang of it as you practice.
Once you’ve made all the ripples, make sure the mandu is completely sealed and pinch together parts that aren’t. Repeat until you’ve used up all the filling or run out of skins.
If you have extra skins, you can just make fried wonton strips or make crispy mandu with just a little bit of filling. If you have too much filling leftover, you can make small, flat half-dollar-sized rounds, dust them in flour, dip them in egg batter and have a different jun.
My mom laughs because she says that my mandu look like a machine made them. Here they are in a row:
I guess she’s right. The do look terribly machine stamped, don’t they? It’s funny b/c my mom is the one who taught me how to make mandu. It’s just that I’ve made so many thousands in my life (As you can see, my mom just makes me the filling and I have to make them myself), I got pretty good at it.
So, once you have all your mandu laid out on a tray, stick them in the freezer for a couple of hours. Once they’re solid, you can put them in a large zipper bag and they won’t stick together. Then, you’ll have plenty of dumplings for future bowls of mandu gook (dumpling soup) or mandu twigim (fried mandu).