My friend Brian and I dine out together frequently. Whenever we go out for sushi, I try to order gyoza, half-moon shaped dumplings filled with pork, shrimp and cabbage. Without fail, Brian mocks me (he’s a little heavy-handed with the sarcasm, but so am I), saying that I should leave all of the room available in my stomach for the good stuff – fresh raw fish. He’s got a point. Seafood is the star of those meals. But I consider gyoza to be good stuff too, if they’re made from scratch. Sometimes Brian wins this war, and I forgo the gyoza. Now that I know how to make them at home, I may never order them at the sushi bar again.
Gyoza are cousins to Italian ravioli and Chinese pot stickers, and I like them all. Tasty meat and veg stuffed into a glutenous pouch? I’m all in. I made pork gyoza to accompany Chicken Udon Soup last week. The whole process was really fun, and the gyoza were savory and chewy.
I loosely followed this gyoza recipe on Rasa Malaysia. First, you mix up a filling. I omitted the shrimp in the original recipe, adding an equal amount of extra ground pork to save a little cash. I also used regular chives in place of Chinese chives. Then you scoop a small amount of the filling into the center of a gyoza wrapper, which are easily found in Asian grocery stores. Speed up the process by setting up an assembly line. Lay out several wrappers in a row, plop filling into all of them, brush the edges of the dough with water, and seal.
Forming the wrapper into little purses was my favorite part of the recipe. There was something very Zen about giving up the idea that each gyoza had to look exactly the same, that each pleat had to be perfectly spaced. Catharsis by Japanese dumpling. What an awesome side effect!
After all of the purses are crimped shut, they cook for a few minutes in a neutral-tasting oil. Rasa Malaysia recommended using a nonstick pan, since the wrappers are slightly sticky. They look like little lightning bolts.
When the bottoms have browned, add a little water to the pan and cover to steam the dumplings. Oops – I don’t have a lid for that size pan, but a smaller lid did the job. The sound of the water repeatedly bubbling up and hitting the lid sounded like a bad porno.
Because the water won’t evaporate if it’s covered, I poured almost all of it off after 7 minutes, leaving just a tablespoon or so in the pan. Cook the gyoza a bit longer to recrisp the bottom. Dunk into a dipping sauce made of soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and chili paste. Eat as many as you can without spoiling your appetite for sushi, or just treat them as the main event and go nuts.