Being raised bicultural, having a Japanese mother and an American father, it was always great fun to visit relatives on both sides, in both countries. My mother being a wonderful cook, she would often be asked to cook something Japanese for my father’s relatives when we would visit various states in the U.S.
The most popular request, to this day, is gyoza. As a little girl, I often thought this was kind of funny because gyoza is not a Japanese dish, but Chinese. I suppose what’s correct is that gyoza originated in China and was adapted in Japan, becoming a staple in Japanese cuisine, similar to the story I once did on curry. Pre-wrapped uncooked gyoza can be found in supermarkets everywhere in Japan today, and pan-fried gyoza are sold as a side dish in most ramen shops. I won’t deny that it is definitely one of the most loved dishes in Japan.
For those unfamiliar with gyoza, it is an Asian dumpling, originating in China where it is called giaozi. The Japanese word gyoza derived from the Chinese characters of the word giaozi, pronounced with Japanese sounds. In Western cultures, gyoza are commonly known as “potstickers” often being on the appetizer menu in Asian restaurants. They are made from very thin dumpling skin, slightly thicker than wonton wrappers. These skins are filled with fillings made from vegetables and meats, typically chopped cabbage, minced garlic and ginger and ground pork.
Gyoza can be cooked in various ways, such as steamed, boiled or in soups, but the most popular preparation method is the pan-fried style called yaki-gyoza, in which the dumplings are first fried one flat side, creating a crispy skin. Then, water is added to the pan, sealed with a lid, until the upper part of the dumpling is steamed. This is what gives yaki-gyoza the special texture which is so irresistible to eat just one. You cannot help but to eat more and more!
The process for making gyoza can be time-consuming, but it is always a fun process to do with friends or as a family. The wrapping skins are usually store-bought. Once a little spoonful of the filling is placed in the center of the circular wrapper, the sides are moistened with water to seal the little dumplings. The skin is folded over to resemble a half moon, then the edges are pinched to create folds and flaps. They are so easy to eat, but the process for making them can be lengthy.
Sometimes I crave gyoza even on a weekday. The photo today is a meal I cooked on a typical weekday; something I prepared in 30 minutes after coming home from a hard day at work. The secret is I make the gyoza over the weekend, and freeze them, uncooked, in Ziploc bags. Having these ready to be cooked dumplings in the freezer is really convenient. Have a gyoza wrapping party over the weekend! Enjoy some with friends, but be sure to freeze some for later use.
Gyoza (2-3 servings)
Ingredients: 20 gyoza wrappers For filling: 1/3 cup chopped cabbage, boiled, excess water removed by squeezing ¼ cup chopped green onion or NIRA (Chinese garlic chives) 1Tbs grated ginger 1clove garlic, chopped 500g ground pork 1 tsp sesame oil 1 tsp sugar 2 Tbs soy sauce Vegetable oil for frying For dipping sauce: 1 Tbs soy sauce 1 Tbs vinegar 1 tsp Ra-yu or chili oil
1) In a bowl, using your hands, mix cabbage, green onions, ginger, garlic and pork really well. 2) Mix in sesame oil, sugar and soy sauce into the pork mixture and blend well. Let it rest. 3) Using a small spoon, scoop a little amount in the center of the wrapper. 4) Using your index finger, water the edge of the circle of the wrapper. 5) Fold in half, making a half moon shape, then using your fingers, create creases and pinch, making folds and flaps. 6) Heat frying pan with oil, then place the gyoza in the pan. 7) Cook on medium heat for about one minute, then pour 1 cup of water in the frying pan. Cover. 8) When all of the water is evaporated, remove lid. Let fry for about one more minute. This makes the skin extra crispy. Add some sesame oil for extra aroma. 9) Place on a plate, with individual dipping sauce on the side.© Japan Today