Whenever I am in a Japanese restaurant and gyoza is on the menu, I always order it. Who cares if I won’t be able to finish my main course?
I first tasted Japanese gyoza when I was already working in Manila. There was this Japanese fast-food restaurant just at the back of our office where we would have lunch from time to time. I would normally order gyoza and a chicken teriyaki bowl. Ordering both was always a bit too much for me, but I couldn’t pass up getting the gyoza. There will always be someone else to help finish anyway.
Sadly, in Luxembourg and in Biel there aren’t many Japanese restaurants, so to get my fix of gyoza I had to learn to make them.
What is gyoza?
Gyoza is a Japanese pan-fried, then steamed dumpling. It is usually filled with ground pork and other aromatics. It is distinguished by what looks like intricate pleating, a nice crispy bottom and flavorful filling dipped in a soy sauce and rice vinegar sauce. In the Philippines, when you order in a restaurant, it is typically an appetizer, and comes in 4 pieces. So, not enough for a full meal, but sometimes a bit too much for an appetizer if you order a main course for lunch.
Let’s make some gyoza!
In Luxembourg, my then-housemate, Vicky, and I were once reminiscing about our auditing days in Manila and remembered the gyoza. We set about researching how to make it and realized that it wasn’t that hard to form them. It looks intricate, but making is quite easy once you get the hang of pleating it.
My recipe and technique is a mix of Steamy Kitchen and Just One Cookbook. I read many different recipes and techniques and these two were the ones I decided to try, and eventually adjusted the taste of the gyoza to my preference.
What do we need?
You don’t need a lot to make gyoza. These are:
These are the round ones, which I just buy at the Asian Store. If you are inclined to make fresh ones, here is a recipe you might want to try. If they are frozen, remember to defrost them in the refrigerator the night before.
Pork is the usual filling for gyoza. But, if no one is going to stop you if you use other meat, like ground chicken, add in shrimps, etc.
Chinese/Napa Cabbage is always used as the main vegetable component. But, you may also use regular white cabbage, but just remember that the leaves are usually harder, so you might want to microwave or blanch the leaves quickly before using. You may add whatever other vegetable you want as well, I am thinking grated carrots, minced bell pepper, mushrooms. Go crazy!
I’ve used garlic, green onions/scallions and ginger to flavor the potstickers. I love garlic, so I used quite a bit here.
So let’s get started!
Grab your ingredients. Put the ground pork into a large bowl.
Slice the scallions thinly. Add to the ground pork.
Get around 8 leaves of Chinese cabbage, microwave for a minute on high (to soften the stalk) and chop finely. Measure to see if you get around 4 cups, if not, add a few more leaves.
Get 3 garlic cloves and mince.
Grate ginger and add to the bowl.
(Note: I usually buy a big ginger root, peel everything (use a spoon!), and slice into 1-inch pieces. Then, I individually wrap each piece in cling wrap and put all the ginger pieces in a freezer safe bag and freeze. Now I have ginger on hand for when I need it. Good as fresh! Easier to grate as well.)
Add sesame oil and the seasonings and mix well with your hands. Get in there and mush the filling up. It would also help to throw small balls of the meat mixture into the sides of the bowl several times to help tenderize it.
Here comes the fun part!
Now, we make the dumplings. Gather your gyoza wrappers and a small container of water for sealing the gyoza.
Center a gyoza wrapper into your work surface. Place a tablespoon of filling in the middle.
Dip your finger in the water and wet the edge of the upper half. Fold the wrapper over and pinch the middle of the top folded part. With your right thumb and pointer finger, make a small pleat facing the middle, and quickly follow with two more pleats. Make sure to press each pleat firmly so it sticks to the other pleats.
Repeat with the left side.
Adjust the dumpling to make sure that it stands. Tap it down a couple of times and make it look pretty.
Repeat until all the filling is used.
You’ve finished making all those pretties. Now what?
Freeze for future use.
Arrange the gyoza in a single layer on parchment paper on a baking pan, chopping board, or anything flat that will fit in your freezer. When frozen, transfer to freezer bags, label, and consume within 6 months.
When the time comes that you are craving gyoza, you don’t need to defrost them, these can be cooked directly from the freezer. Will just take a bit longer to fry up, just watch it.
Since the recipe makes so much more than we can consume, I always freeze those we will not eat immediately. I am always happy when I have make-ahead lunches or dinners in the freezer.
Get a medium-sized frying pan and heat over medium-high heat. Pour about a teaspoon sesame oil and arrange as many gyozas as can fit without touching each other. Leave to fry until the bottoms are golden brown, around 2 -3 minutes. Check if it is browning by lifting it by its pleats.
Pour in 1/4 cup of water and immediately cover. Cook until most of the water has evaporated.
Remove from heat and serve immediately with a dipping sauce of 1 part rice vinegar, 2 parts soy sauce and some sesame or chili oil, if you wish.
If you also wish to have ramen for dinner, see here on how to make easy-peasy ramen. The recipe is just for one person, but can easily be scaled upwards.