Gyoza

Gyoza

By
From
JapanEasy
Makes
40 gyoza
Photographer
Laura Edwards

Distant cousins of ravioli. Long-lost half-brothers of pasties. Grand-nephews twice removed of empanadas. Yes, the Japanese gyoza are part of a noble global family of juicy meat encapsulated in a round of folded-over dough. But they are most closely related to (and in fact, largely indistinguishable from) Chinese jiaozi dumplings, specifically guotie: potstickers. The main difference between gyoza and their Chinese ancestor is the thickness of the dough; gyoza wrappers are rolled out to a fine, pasta-like thinness, whereas jiaozi pastry is a bit more substantial. Either way, they are delicious.

Gyoza are fun and easy to make at home, and particularly easy if you can get the wrappers pre-made – they are sold frozen in East Asian supermarkets. Then it’s a simple matter of bashing together the filling, assembling and frying. If you can’t get the wrappers, it’s still not hard, but it will take a little bit more time and effort. Making gyoza is a pleasantly meditative, repetitive task if you make them on your own, but I prefer to make them with a partner. It makes it go faster, and turns it into a fun and sociable experience. At big get-togethers in Japan, it’s common to see a group of old ladies sitting around a table, making gyoza and trading gossip.

Not difficult but it might take a little practice – don’t be discouraged!!!

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
oil, as needed for frying
soy sauce, to serve
vinegar, to serve
chilli oil, to serve

For the wrappers

Quantity Ingredient
280g plain (all-purpose) flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
120ml just-boiled water
cornflour (cornstarch), for dusting

For the filling

Quantity Ingredient
500g minced (ground) pork, not the lean stuff
1/2 leek, trimmed and finely diced
2cm fresh ginger, peeled and very finely chopped
6-10 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper, (black is good; white is better)

Method

  1. For the wrappers, sift the flour and salt together into a mixing bowl. Add the boiled water to the flour little by little, incorporating it with a spoon or spatula as you go. When all the water has been added, start working it with your hands; when it all comes together, it should be soft but not at all sticky. Sprinkle some cornflour on the work surface and tip the dough out onto it. Knead for about 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth. If you have a stand mixer with a dough hook, by all means use it, but do use your hands to make sure the dough is nice and soft and dry.
  2. Roll the dough out into two chubby logs, about 3 cm (1¼ in) in diameter. Wrap each log in cling film (plastic wrap) and leave to rest in the fridge for 30–60 minutes. Unwrap the dough and sprinkle a little more cornflour on your work surface, then cut each log into pieces about 1 cm (½ in) across – you should get about 20 pieces out of each log.
  3. Use your hands to roll each piece of dough into a little ball, then use a rolling pin dusted with cornflour to roll each ball out into a flat disc. Try to make them very thin, but not so thin that they become difficult to work with – 1 mm ( in) thick is a good goal, but 2 mm ( in) will be fine. In fact, 3 mm ( in) will probably be fine. Just make them as thin as you are comfortable with!
  4. Dust each wrapper with cornflour and stack them up as you go, covering the stack with a clean, damp tea towel to keep them from drying out. Oh, and don’t worry if they’re not perfect circles – you can still manipulate them into a nice shape when you fill and fold them. If you’re not using them immediately, you can keep them wrapped in cling film in the fridge for about 3 days.
  5. For the filling, mix the minced pork, leek, ginger, garlic, salt and pepper with your hands until everything is well incorporated. That’s it.
  6. To assemble and cook:

    First of all, you will need the following things set up: a small spoon; a bowl of water, 1 or 2 baking trays lined with baking parchment and dusted with cornflour; and a non-stick frying pan (skillet) with a lid.
  7. Let’s make gyoza!
  8. Lay out about 6 gyoza wrappers at a time on your worktop.
  9. Use your small spoon to portion out a little bit of the filling into the centre of each wrapper.
  10. Dip a finger in the water, and wet the outside edge of each wrapper.
  11. Cup the wrapper in your (clean, dry) hand and fold the wrapper over the filling, pressing in the middle to seal.
  12. Press down along one side of the gyoza to seal and to force the air out.
  13. Press down along the other side of the gyoza to complete the seal.
  14. Fold the sealed side over itself 3–5 times to form an attractive parcel. (NOTE: gyoza need not be attractive to be delicious).
  15. Lay the gyoza in rows on your lined trays.
  16. Repeat until all the filling or wrappers are gone. (You are a gyoza master if you ration both perfectly – but if you have extra filling, just make yourself a meatball or two. Go on, you’ve earned it!)
  17. Now the fun part: cooking. Gyoza cook in two ways simultaneously: frying and steaming. The trick is to get a nice, crispy bottom and a supple, tender top.
  18. Heat a little bit of oil (1 tablespoon or so) in your non-stick pan over a medium heat. Add the gyoza in rows or a circular pattern and fry until the bottoms are golden brown – it should take about 3–5 minutes. Without turning the gyoza, add about 50 ml (2 floz) water to the pan and put the lid on. Let them steam for 5 minutes or so, until they’re cooked through and most of the water has evaporated.
  19. (How to tell if they’re cooked through: give them a little prod on their tops. If they feel firm, they’re cooked. And if you’ve made really beautifully thin wrappers, then you may be able to actually see through them; the meat will go from pink to pale grey when it’s cooked.)
  20. Let the remaining water evaporate from the pan to ensure crisp bottoms. When they’re done, carefully lift them from the pan with a spatula, or turn them out directly onto a big, flat plate. Serve with a little bit of soy sauce, vinegar and perhaps (definitely) chilli oil for dippin’.
  21. Oh, and by the way: in Japan it is against the law to enjoy gyoza without beer. That’s how well they go together.
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