Updated: Nov 14, 2021
One of the great culinary gifts of China to Japan must be gyoza or as the Chinese say, jiaozi. In the West, gyoza go by the name potstickers, reputedly because a Chinese chef mistakenly left his dumplings to boil dry and sometime later found them nicely fried and crispy where the pan had seared them. It's a charming story but I always wonder if it is true because most people I know actually prefer their dumplings fried rather than boiled - so my suspicion is that the chef was simply responding to the demand of his diners. It has to be said that gyoza look a lot nicer when they are fried a suntanned golden brown. Not only that but the crispy coat adds texture as well to the wrapper. Of course, all this only applies when gyoza are made correctly with the right ingredients and I am sorry to say that I come across quite a few mediocre gyoza when I eat out - awful, soggy things that fall apart to reveal who knows what filling. (Read the restaurant reviews on my Blog to find out who the guilty parties are!) But, it doesn't have to be like that - gyoza are very simple to make yourself. The only unusual ingredient you need are the gyoza wrappers themselves which you can order online or find at a Chinese or Asian store. Apart from the wrappers, you should find all the ingredients in your fridge or your store cupboard.
Gyoza are not heavily seasoned - a little salt and pepper, some soy sauce, sesame oil and Chinese cooking wine (or a tablespoon of sherry at a pinch) - they rely on the freshness and flavours of the filling and the tang of their dipping sauce to satisfy. The classic gyoza is made using minced pork with vegetables - onion, spring onion and Chinese cabbage. You can also find chicken and vegetable only gyoza. They are all prepared and cooked in the same way. The preparation is quite straightforward until you get to wrapping the filling in the gyoza wrapper. Then, there's a little bit of technique to acquire but nothing you won't be able to master after a couple of minutes viewing the video tutorial below. My recipe makes around 45 - 50 gyoza, so a filling gyoza feast for 4 - 5 people. Even if I'm only cooking for 2 people, I tend to make a large batch as the raw gyoza freeze very well for another day.
Once you've made your legion of little gyoza parcels, then it's on to your frying pan. Depending on the size of your pan and whether you intend to set some gyoza aside and freeze for a later date, you may need to fry 1 or 2 pans full. Japanese gyoza are fried for a few minutes on one side only over a medium / high heat. Once they are a little bit browned, a little water is added and a few minutes later, when the water has evaporated, you'll have some tasty little darlings in your kitchen just begging to be eaten - nicely browned on one side and steamed all over.
A few spoonfuls of soy sauce, vinegar and chilli oil and you'll have a gyoza dipping sauce as well!
Make these at least once so you can judge what an authentic gyoza should look and taste like. Then, next time you go to a restaurant and order a dish of gyoza, you'll be able to compare. You'll soon be able to figure out whether your chef is serving you something pukka or something that has been bought in bulk and shouldn't be seeing the light of day on your plate!
If you'd like to give these a try, you can find the Youtube tutorial by clicking Gyoza or scroll to the bottom of the page. The written recipe is just below.
Happy wrapping! Kurumi XXXX.
Japanese Gyoza potstickers.
(makes 45 - 50 gyoza parcels)
330g minced pork
1 pack frozen gyoza wrappers (approx. 50 per pack)
70g Chinese cabbage leaves
3 spring onions
3 cloves garlic
a little pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp Chinese cooking wine or sherry
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp cornflour or plain flour for dusting
1/2 tbsp vegetable oil per pan of gyoza fried
a small bowl or small cup of water (about 50-70ml per pan)
for the dipping sauce:
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp vinegar
some chilli oil - amount depending on individual preference)
finely chop the onion, spring onion and Chinese cabbage leaves. place all the chopped vegetables in a large bowl
grate the ginger and garlic. add to the bowl of vegetables
add the salt, pepper, soy sauce, cooking wine and sesame oil. mix well for 2 - 3 mins until everything is nicely combined. (traditionally, this was done with fingers. personally, I use a large spon. you could also use a blender but be careful if you do so because you only want to mix the ingredients not create a pulp)
dust 1 or 2 large plate with cornflour
take your first wrapper. place 1 tsp of the filling into the centre
dip your index finger into the water and moisten the edge of the wrapper around the filling
fold over the top of the wrapper. now use your fingers to create 5 little pleats on the upper edge of the wrapper. press gently to seal the wrapper together as you create the pleats
place the finished gyoza on the dusted plate. repeat until all the filling/wrappers are used
now, heat 1/2 tbsp of vegetable oil in a frying pan
once the pan is hot, place the gyoza in the pan in a circular patter with 3 or 4 in the middle. fry for 2 - 3 minutes over a medium heat until the wrappers begin to brown (check using chopsticks or a fork)
when the gyoza are browned on one side, pour the water into the pan and cover immediately with a lid. cook until the water has evaporated - this should take a further 3 - 4 minutes. you might want to break open one gyoza parcel to double check that the filling is cooked
set the cooked gyoza aside and repeat until all the gyoza ae cooked
for the dipping sauce:
pour 1 tbsp soy sauce and 1 tbsp vinegar per person into individual dipping bowls. add Chinese chilli oil according to personal preference