It is officially 2017, I would like to start by wishing everyone a happy New Year! This is the time where everyone is starting to roll out their New Years resolutions. For us, some of our goals are to eat better (such an original idea, right?!), save more money by cooking at home more often, and getting to spend more quality time together. I truly believe that one of the best ways to spend time together is by cooking together. There is something magical about a home cooked meal, and getting to share that process with loved ones is what it’s all about. It shouldn’t just be when you make food for the holidays, but multiple nights a week. That’s why we are going to show you how to make gyoza to kick off 2017!
So with the goal of eating better, we decided to start this year off by trying a few different Asian cuisines. My girlfriend is half Japanese, and she said that she had never felt better then when she was eating a Japanese type diet. This would usually involve fish, vegetables, and rice. I know when I said “rice,” a lot of people were shaking their heads and saying “white rice isn’t healthy.” It’s more about the ingredients then anything; the better the quality, the better for you. Japan doesn’t use the same growing methods that the US uses, so usually the rice there is better for you and not as harmful to your body.
When it comes to our new way of eating for this year, we plan to make more things at home instead of going out. Making things by hand will also give you more control over what is going into it. One of our favorite things to eat out is ramen (and no, I’m not talking about top ramen, I’m talking about real Japanese ramen). I am sorry this article isn’t about making ramen- that will be an article in the future. This also isn’t about the best ramen in Las Vegas- that will be an article soon to come as well. This article is about everyones favorite side dish at a ramen shop, gyoza! Yes, the little pan fried dumplings, or known in Chinese culture as pot stickers. These delicious little packages of meat and vegetables are a lot easier to make then you think. In this article we will show you the step by step process to making gyoza at home! Let’s first start with a little history lesson on where dumplings, potstickers and gyoza come from. Like I said, we are always learning together, and I found this information to be pretty interesting.
History of Dumplings
In Asian culture the origin of the dumpling believed to have been in Northern China. Jiao Zi, as the dumpling is known, was created by a man named Zhang Zhonjing, known in Chinese history as the “Medicine Saint.” Zhongjing lived during the Eastern Han Dynasty 1800 years ago. During one winter in his hometown, he noticed that a lot of the homeless citizens in his village were experiencing frostbite on their ears. He tried to help them with this issue by wrapping mutton, chilli and some warming medicinal herbs in dough skin. He folded them in the shape of an ear and boiled them before giving them to the poor. The materials in his original recipe were said to warm the body by promoting blood flow, which would then thaw their cold ears. The dumpling then took on the tradition during the winter solstice as the symbol of home and warmth.
A potsticker (or guotie) is a specific Chinese dumpling. The origin is uncertain, but there are rumors that the origin happened by mistake. I honestly hope that this story is true because that would be pretty funny. The story goes that a chef was making Jiao ZI by boiling water in a wok. He walked away and while he was gone the water had boiled off. The Jiao Zi had stuck to the wok and become crispy, producing what is now known as the potsticker. Guotie literally translates to “pan stick.”
During World War II Japanese soldiers were exposed to Jiao Zi when stationed in Manchuria, and they fell in love with them and wanted to recreate them at home. The word of their creation was Gyoza, which is their pronounciation of Jioa Zi.
There are 3 types of Gyoza:
- Yaki Gyoza- pan fried (the most common and the one we will be showing you today.)
- Sui Gyoza- boiled gyoza that is usually served in a light broth
- Age Gyoza- deep fried gyoza
Making the gyoza
Now that we both have a little more education on the history of gyoza, it’s time to start making them! We will follow along as my girlfriend Emi shows me how to make gyoza for the first time.
- Start by getting all of the ingredients together, chopped, grated and measured out.
- In a bowl mix together all of the gyoza ingredients. Knead the mixture several times, ensuring that the ingredients are evenly distributed, the meat is tenderized, and everything starts to stick together.
- Using a dry work surface and a glass of water near by, let’s start building some dumplings! Start by placing the first wrapper flat on the surface. Take a heaping teaspoon of the filling and place it in the middle of the wrapper. Now wet your finger and trace a line around half of the dumpling. Fold the wrapper in have over the filling and pinch the two sides together in the center, sealing them.
- Now is the fun part (especially doing it 40 more times), it’s time to start pleating. Holding the filled half-circle in the left hand, pleat the top of the wrapper from the middle out, pressing it to the flat edge of the wrapper at the back (only the front edge will be pleated–the back edge stays flat).
- Lay your finished product on a baking sheet, and continue the process with the other 39 dumplings. This might seem like a lot of work, but in the end it will all be worth it!
- In a large skillet, pour about an inch of water and two teaspoons of vegetable oil or green tea oil. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Once at a boil, quickly add in the dumplings flat side down. Make sure to leave enough space between them so they are not touching. You will have to do this in batches, so don’t worry that they don’t fit.
- Cover with the lid and let it cook on high heat until the water has boiled off, 3 to 5 minutes.
- Once the water has boiled off, remove the lid and continue to cook until the bottom of the gyoza become golden brown and crispy.
- Let the dumplings cool for a minute or two on a paper towel before serving.
- Serve with the gyoza dipping sauce
- Enjoy! I know we did! We decided to eat them in batches, so we could gauge how many gyoza we wanted.
- As for the rest of the uncooked gyoza, we put them in air tight zip lock bags and put them in the freezer until later use. Make sure to label and date them.
I hope you get to enjoy this recipe as much as we do, and the process of making these with the ones you love. Here’s to a happy and healthy New Year! Cheers with a glass of green juice! lol