Okay, I'm going to out myself here -- I'm totally "gyoza otaku," or obsessed with Japanese-style fried dumplings. I'm not alone. In Japan, gyoza is the classic companion to ramen (with a frosty mug of beer finishing the picture), with bespoke versions the subject of magazine articles and television shows and endless debate online. There's even a Gyoza Stadium in Tokyo, a food theme park that brings together the giants of Japanese gyoza cooking. But for all my gyoza adoration, I have never tried to make them -- until I got a copy of Andrea Nguyen's amazing new book Asian Dumplings. First, Andrea is a fantastic cook and writer and one super-cool human. Second, her new book rocks, covering dumplings from across Asia with terrific recipes, clear techniques and illustrations, and insights into pan-Asian food culture.
I quickly turned to Andrea's gyoza recipe on page 41 and gathered the ingredients. I cut corners a little bit by buying gyoza skins instead of making them from scratch (sorry, Andrea!). Also, my wife and I have a ton of shiso growing in our garden, so I chopped up some of that fabulous herb and threw it in, too. My wife also wanted more nira, or Chinese chives, so we doubled the amount Andrea calls for. (As always, think about how you want to prepare recipes). Now it was time to assemble the dumplings, by pleating together the edges. I never did this before, so my gyoza looked pretty pathetic. But luckily my honey's a trained sculptor with phenomenally nimble hands. She shoved me aside and quickly formed a bunch of lovely dumplings, even though it turned out I got the wrong shaped skins -- square instead of round (thanks, honey). We fried them up, chowed them down. Fantastic. And we made enough for another round tonight for dinner.