How to make dumplings: Easy folding techniques from a Seattle chef
Saturday marks the start of the Year of the Dragon, in the lunar calendar. Lunar New Year festivities are on the rise as Seattle's Asian population continues to grow.
But they’re not all parades and lion dances. It’s a time to feast. But the food composing a Lunar New Year feast should feature dishes that symbolize good health, abundance, and prosperity. This is why dumplings are popular. They resemble money pouches or gold ingots. They represent wealth.
Fillings vary. Sara Upshaw, owner of Korean deli Ohsun Banchan in Seattle’s Pioneer Square, makes hers with vegetables.
“Some tofu, some potato starch noodles, and then bean sprouts," Upshaw said. "There’s napa cabbage, there’s chives seasoned with salt, of course, and a little bit of egg for a binder.”
Upshaw says making dumplings, or "mandu" as they are called in Korea, is part of her family tradition. Here, she uses store-bought dumpling wrappers. To start, Upshaw places a teaspoonful of filling in the center.
To seal it, she dips her finger in water to wet the edge before folding it in half and firmly pressing the edges together, so it looks like a half moon.
To finish, she starts making little folds on the curved edge of the dumpling.
“I’m going to make four pleats like this," Upshaw said, "and if it starts to come up a bit you can just add a bit more water to make it more of a binder.”
If making pleats is not your thing you can bring the two corners of the edge together and firmly but gently press them together. Upshaw says part of the dumpling’s appeal is that it can be a group activity that anyone can take part in—which is at the heart of any Lunar New Year gathering.
“Being able to gather around the table and just make dumplings so that everyone feels that comfort and feels like they’re part of this loving way of showing care for each other,” Upshaw said.
Not to mention that it’s a good way to catch up with family and loved ones.
“You’ll get to the point where you’re not even looking at your folds because everyone will be gossiping with each other, and talking with each other and asking what’s the latest this that and the other," she said.
After making a big batch, the dumplings can be fried, steamed, or boiled. And that’s another thing about dumplings. You can cook them however you want; there’s no wrong way to serve them.
Here's a link to Upshaw's mandu recipe.