When an old friend comes round for lunch requesting steamed buns just like my mum used to make…now that’s a challenge.
Mum would spend ages in the kitchen making very edible Korean food, and a big chunk of that time was given over to mandu making.
A painstaking toil involving kneading dough; cooking, cooling and mixing filling ingredients; muttering away to herself; rolling out scores of individual mandu wrappers; whingeing about how long it was all taking; spooning the mixture on to each saucer of dough; shaping into plump sacks pinched shut at the top; moaning a bit more; placing each dumpling on to pre-cut squares of foil – which they stuck to without fail; cursing and looking seriously fed up with her lot in life; finally steaming in batches in a big wide pan.
A near full day of effort to create something that would disappear within minutes. Dad would grab them impatiently, munching determinedly through discomfort and temporary inside of the mouth disfigurement caused by molten dumpling juice.
So no messing around. No short cuts. No cheats. No pre-made crap. To honour the memory of Mum’s buns, plus a friendship that goes back decades, this one had to be done properly.
I started by mixing flour, yeast, salt and warm water for the dumpling dough, before allowing to prove for ages. Then I divided the dough into golf balls and proved some more on a tray covered in cling film.
I mixed finely chopped chestnuts, bacon, steamed sprouts and sweated onion together with sausage meat, grated garlic and ginger and a dash of soy and fish sauce.
I rolled out each ball of dough before stuffing with the chestnut mixture and steaming on non-stick greaseproof paper.
Finally I served with chilli dipping sauce mixed with miso paste.
Ingredients: flour, yeast, salt, water, chestnuts, bacon, brussels sprouts, sausage meat, onion, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, fish sauce, chilli dipping sauce, miso