Ah, gyoza. What can I say, I love gyoza. Whenever I'm in Japan, sniffing out gyoza shops is de regueur, and gyoza always accompanies my ramen (a frosty beer completes the hat-trick). These steamed-and-fried dumplings are easy to make at home, too, and I'm going to demonstrate how soon at my upcoming Japanese comfort food workshop at the Brooklyn Kitchen on the 19th. To get ready, I've been working on perfecting my technique. Gyoza are pan-fried dumplings that are both steamed and fried. They're an import from China, kin to Chinese pot stickers (also irresistible). Gyoza ain't gyoza unless one side is toasty and crisp, the other side tender, and the insides juicy, aromatic, garlicky and unbelievably delicious. While some methods call for pork and shrimp, or even duck, in my mind classic gyoza is made with just ground pork, combined with garlic cloves and chives, cabbage and intensely fragrant roasted sesame oil. So where to find a great recipe? Nobuko, of course! Hot off the heels of her amazing curry, I contacted Nobuko about her gyoza, which I've tasted, and which was unforgettable. So here's Nobuko's Way of the Gyoza, plus video of an anonymous someone (err, my lovely wife) demonstrating deft dumpling folding technique:
Note about the recipe: I'm using metric weight measurements, instead of volume; so much easier. I highly recommend you buy a digital scale, which always has metric (this one rocks). Every home cook should own a decent scale.
Makes about 50 gyoza
100 grams green cabbage
300 grams ground pork
Salt and black pepper
1 bunch garlic chives
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled
2 tablespoons roasted sesame oil
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
Pinch ground black pepper
2 tablespoons katakuriko (potato starch)
50 gyoza round gyoza skins (find them in the frozen section of Asian markets
2 tablespoons water combined with 1 teaspoon katakuriko, for sealing gyoza skin
Roasted sesame oil
Rayu (chili oil)
1. Fill a medium saucepan with water and bring it to boil over high heat. Add the cabbage and simmer until the cabbage softens, about 3 minutes. Cool the cabbage under cold running water, then finely chop. Squeeze out any excesses water from the chopped cabbage with your hands. Set aside.
2. Finely chop the garlic chives and squeeze out any excess water with your hands. Set aside. Grate the garlic and ginger using a microplane or oroshigane. You want to grate rather than chop or press through a garlic press; grating best breaks down the cells of the ginger and garlic, releasing their aroma, flavor and heat.
3. Add the pork to a large mixing bowl and season with salt and pepper. Use your hand to mix the pork for about 1 or 2 minutes, until it becomes sticky; this will help the pork bind to the other ingredients.
4. Add the cabbage, garlic chives, garlic, ginger, sesame oil, soy sauce, sugar, salt, pepper and katakuriko to the mixing bowl. Use your hand to combine with the pork, mix for about 2 minutes, or until the mixture becomes sticky.
5. Now, find a comfortable chair, pull it up to a table and fill the 50 gyoza skins, which is fun to do together with friends and family (great for kids, too, of course). Follow the technique in the video below. Remember to keep the flour side of the skin on the outside of the gyoza. Also, you don't have to make as many folds as my wife does in the video (she's a pro at this), just enough to pinch the gyoza closed. Use the water combined with katakuriko as the "glue" to fuse the skin together.
6. Now you're ready to cook the gyoza. The essential tool is a well-seasoned cast iron skillet with a lid (nothing works as well as heat-retaining cast iron for gyoza). Cook the gyoza in batches: Heat a cast iron skillet over high heat until it's smoking hot. Add a thin film of vegetable oil, and use a wadded up paper towel or brush to spread it around the skillet. Add the gyoza in rows, which will make it easier to remove once they're ready. As soon as you add all the gyoza that comfortably fit, fill the skillet with water until the gyoza are covered about half-way. Cover the skillet with the lid, and lower the heat to medium. Cook for about 8 minutes, or until the water evaporates (you'll see a starchy film on the skillet bottom, that's fine). Now drizzle sesame oil over the gyoza. Cover and cook for about 1 minute more, until the oil is absorbed. Use a thin, long spatula (ideal, but any spatula works) to lift up the gyoza in a row.
7. Eat steaming hot. Combine rice vinegar, soy sauce and a few drops of rayu to make a dipping sauce. I like 1:1 ratio of vinegar to soy sauce, but 2:1 is also popular (or to your taste -- it doesn't have to be exact). Dip the gyoza into the sauce, take a bite, and swoon!
Okay, here's the video of how to fill gyoza skin. Notice the action of my wife's thumbs and index finger, and how she holds the gyoza facing out. Watch this a couple of times and practice yourself. By the tenth gyoza, you'll get it, I promise! Now, the video: