Saewu Mandu (Shrimp Dumplings)

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I’ve previously posted dumpling recipes made with kimchi and meat as the main ingredient. Here, I made shrimp dumplings, saewu mandu (새우 만두). I’m also going to show you how to make homemade dumpling wrappers.

I must admit, I usually use store-bought wrappers to make my dumplings. I can find pretty good ones at Korean markets around here. When I make dumplings, I make a lot of them to freeze, so I go for a short cut to save time.

Recently, our dear friends invited us to a dumpling dinner when their daughter’s family visited from NY. I was excited because I knew my friend always makes her dumplings with homemade wrappers. When we arrived, the mother was rolling the dough out and then handing them over to the daughter so she can wrap the filling in it. It seemed like they had their routine down, so everything looked so effortless. The two year old granddaughter, who had flour all over her little cute face, was also helping by rolling the dough with her own little rolling pin. It looked like so much fun, and the dumplings were incredible! I came home totally inspired!

It’s really not that hard to make wrappers at home. As my friend would say, all you need is good old all-purpose flour, salt and water. Homemade wrappers taste much better. They are also more resilient and durable to work with. Try to make them, especially if you can’t find good pre-made wrappers where you live.

After making several batches of wrappers to write this post, I think it’s going to be very hard for me to go back to store-bought wrappers.

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For the wrappers: (makes about 33 wrappers)
2 cups all purpose flour (about 10.5 ounces/300 grams), more for dusting
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup hot water

For the filling: 

12 ounces (340 grams) raw shrimp
10 ounces (280 grams) green cabbage
4 ounces (110 grams) fresh mushroom caps, stems removed (shiitake, button, or crimini)
1/2 small onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon finely grated ginger (or juiced)
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil
salt to taste (about 1/4 teaspoon)
pinch pepper

For the wrappers:

Homemade Dumpling Wrapper 1 - Saewu Mandu (Shrimp Dumplings)

Add 2 cups of flour to a large bowl. Dissolve 1/2 teaspoon of salt in 2/3 cup hot water. Add the water to the flour in a steady stream while mixing quickly.

Homemade dumpling wrappers 2 - Saewu Mandu (Shrimp Dumplings)

Keep mixing by hand until the dough comes together.

Homemade dumpling wrappers 3 - Saewu Mandu (Shrimp Dumplings)

You can knead in the bowl, or turn it out on a lightly floured surface to knead. Knead with the heel of your hand until the dough is fairly smooth, 4 to 5 minutes. The dough should feel slightly stiff. You can adjust the dough by kneading in a little more flour or more water. Cover with a plastic wrap, and let it rest for 30 minutes to an hour.  (This is a good time to start making the filling.)

Homemade Dumpling Wrapper 4 - Saewu Mandu (Shrimp Dumplings)

After resting, the dough should feel soft and smooth.

Homemade Dumpling Wrapper 5 - Saewu Mandu (Shrimp Dumplings)

When ready to use, using a sharp knife, cut the dough into 4 long pieces on a lightly floured work surface. Roll each piece with both hands to make a thin log, 3/4 to 1-inch diameter. (Cover the remaining dough to keep it from drying out.)

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Cut each log into 3/4 to 1-inch pieces. Press the cut side with the thumbs to flatten to a small disk. Dust and roll out each disk with a small rolling pin to a thin 3-1/2-inch circle. (You can use a round cookie cutter, if you want.) Make a few wrappers at a time and wrap the filling in. Always cover the dough that’s not being used.

For the filling:
(Use the pulse function of a food processor to chop the ingredients, if available.)

Shrimp dumplings recipe 3 - Saewu Mandu (Shrimp Dumplings)

Peel, devein, and rinse the shrimp. Finely chop or pulse several times in a food processor.

Shrimp dumplings recipe 4 - Saewu Mandu (Shrimp Dumplings)

Finely chop the cabbage. Mix with 1 teaspoon of salt. (If using a food processor, add salt with the cabbage before pulsing.) Let sit for 5 – 10 minutes. Squeeze out excess water. Finely chop the onion and mushrooms.

Shrimp dumplings recipe 5 - Saewu Mandu (Shrimp Dumplings)

Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl. Mix well by hand.

To assemble:

Homemade dumpling wrapper 7 - Saewu Mandu (Shrimp Dumplings)

Place a tablespoon of the filling on a wrapper. You don’t need to wet the edges of the homemade wrapper. Seal tightly (pushing the air out with your fingers) into a half-moon shape. (You can add pleats if desired.) Dust the bottom of the dumpling with flour to keep it from sticking as the skin absorbs the moisture from the filling. Repeat this process until all the filling/wrappers are used.

To cook:

For jjin mandu (steamed), steam the dumplings for about 10 minutes in a steamer (longer if frozen). Make sure to line the steamer with a wet cheesecloth or paper towel to prevent the mandu from sticking.

For mul mandu (boiled), bring a pot of water to a boil. Add mandu (stirring gently so they don’t stick to the bottom of the pot), a few at a time, and cook until all of them come up to the surface. Continue to cook for another minute or two.

For gun mandu (pan fried), heat the pan with 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil over medium high heat. Add the dumplings, making sure they aren’t touching each other. Fry for 1 – 2 minutes, until the bottoms are golden brown. Add 1/4 cup of water to the pan, and cover immediately with a lid. Reduce the heat to medium low, and steam for 4 to 5 minutes. If the dumplings are frozen, cook a little longer.  

Tips for freezing: Freeze the dumplings on a tray with no pieces touching for about an hour, and then store them in a freezer bag. Otherwise, the skins will get soggy from the moisture in the filling and stick together in the freezing process.

Dipping Sauce:

1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon vinegar
1 tablespoon water
1/2 teaspoon sugar
pinch of black pepper
pinch of red pepper flakes (gochugaru)