Mandoo Mania by Jenny Chang

My fondest memory of food always centered around making mandoo (aka. Korean dumplings or potstickers). Perhaps that’s the reason I love to eat them so much.  However making them always seemed like such a chore. I didn’t appreciate the labor of love that my mother always put into the vat of filling she made every holiday season, particular for New Year’s Eve.   

Our entire family would gather around lunchtime every New Year’s Eve and devour a big bowl of rice cake soup (made with pure bone broth, of course) to satiate us before beginning the process of filling hundreds of dumplings. My mother made the dough early in the morning and portioned it out into big round dough balls. My father and uncles would each take turns rolling out each rested dough ball into the largest round sheet of dough that covered our entire kitchen table. Then, using an upside down stainless steel rice bowl, cut out each individual dumpling wrapper from the gigantic sheet of dough. With a pile of dumpling wrappers ready to go, my aunts and all of us kids would gather around the huge bowl of mandoo filling and begin the process of filling each wrapper to make the prettiest dumplings around. We would have contests to see who could fold the prettiest dumplings. My older brother always won. To this day, he’s still the best dumpling maker.

Because our extended family was so big, we often needed to make several hundred mandoo to enjoy in our dumpling rice cake soup, a Korean tradition always consumed on New Year’s Day. Plus a bag of frozen mandoo for each family to take home and enjoy at a later time. It was the highlight of my entire year, more so than Christmas or Thanksgiving. You see, New Year’s Eve was the one time a year that our entire family gathered together to laugh, tell stories, and make dumplings for hours on end, much like the scene in the movie… Crazy Rich Asians.

Dumpling making was always a family tradition and one that involved all of the children. That is why, though I don’t like to have other people cook with me in my kitchen because truthfully, I can’t stand to have the mess, I try to include my three children in the mandoo making process and see who folds the prettiest dumplings. Although, these days we don’t roll out our own dumpling wrappers anymore – store bought ones suffice just great, I still take the time to make mandoo for those special occasions. Though one thing does remain. When we make mandoo, we still make at least a hundred or more.

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