Oil and water don’t mix, or do they?
Tradition has it that Japanese traders who crossed the East China Sea to buy and sell wares also bought a cache of Chinese dumplings to take home. By the time they arrived the dumplings were cold so the Japanese mama-sans would pan fry and dip them in a potent soy sauce with vinegar spiked with chili black bean sauce. This dish became known as Gyoza. The small dumplings are steamed soft on the top and pan fried to a crispy golden brown on the bottom. The filling is a combination of pork and cabbage with ample fresh ginger and garlic. I love these little morsels of meat wrapped in delicate and crispy dough.
The ‘piece de resistance’ is the sauce. It imparts umami, or savoriness which is the fifth basic taste distinguishable on the human palate. Sweet, sour, salty and bitter are the other four. The thin but potent dipping sauce has perky, savory umami. Dunking the Gyoza makes it the first taste on your tongue. When you bite in to the meat filling, it adds even more umami.
The cooking process is simple but unique. With as much contrast as East and West, Gyoza is steamed and fried in a one-stop cooking process. Here’s where a mix of oil and water don’t repel but diplomatically take turns in the cooking process. First the water steams the meat filling plus the top and sides of the dumpling. Once all the water has evaporated, the oil kicks in to pan fry the bottoms to a crispy golden brown. Serve with the savory dipping sauce.
2011 AniversaRecipe – Thai Chicken with Fresh Basil
Recipe: Gyoza and Dipping Sauce
Prep Time: 45 Minutes | Cook Time: 8 Minutes per Batch | Yield: 3 Dozen | Level: Moderate
- 4 cups loosely packed finely chopped Napa cabbage
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 lb ground pork
- 1/2 Tbsp microplane grated fresh ginger
- 2 cloves garlic, microplane grated
- 1/4 cup green onion tops, chopped
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1 package of gyoza skins, about 3 dozen
- 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup very warm water
- 1/3 cup soy sauce
- 1/3 cups white vinegar
- 1/2 tsp Chili with Black Bean
Special Equipment – 8” or 9” non-stick skillet
1 Place the shredded cabbage in a medium bowl. Mix in the salt and set aside for 5 minutes.
2 In the meantime, combine the pork, ginger, garlic, onion and sugar in another bowl. Using fingers mix well to distribute ingredients evenly.
3 Squeeze the cabbage one handful at a time, discarding the water. Add cabbage to the meat mixture and work in until evenly combined.
4 Place 2 teaspoons of the mixture in the center of a Gyoza skin.
5 With a wet finger, apply a thin coat of water around the edge of the Gyoza skin.
6 Fold in half.
7 Make a small pleat on the left side.
8 Make 4-5 more small pleats and press to seal applying a little more water with a wet finger as needed.
9 Place on a tray or baking sheet and cover with plastic or a towel to keep them from drying.
10 In an 8-9” non-stick frying pan, place 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil and 1/4 cup very warm water. Arrange 18 Gyoza dumplings in the pan so they are touching each other but not packed tightly.
11 Cover and place on the stove set at medium high. Cook for about 5-6 minutes.
12 Remove the lid and continue cooking until the water has steamed out and the bottoms are crisp and golden brown, 1-2 minutes.
13 Using a large spatula lift the Gyoza out and flip so the brown side is facing up. Repeat for the second batch. Serve with the crispy golden brown side facing up along with the Gyoza Dipping Sauce.
14 Combine the soy sauce, vinegar and chili black bean sauce in a small bowl.
15 Serve in a saucer for sharing or individual dipping bowls.
Napa Cabbage – Use the frilly, leafy top half of the head of cabbage avoiding the thick, white stalks.
Allowing the salt to draw out the water in the cabbage then squeeze and discard water. It keeps the meat mixture from becoming soggy.
Without a microplane grater, finely mince the ginger and garlic.
Gyoza Skins are basically the same as wonton wrappers except they are round to create a half moon shape when folded. They are also a little thicker which helps to hold their shape when they are pan fried. Substitute wonton wrappers by using a 3” round cookie cutter. Egg roll wrappers may also be used and cut to size. Find Gyoza skins in the produce department of most supermarkets or at an Asian market.
Cooking Gyoza – Using a gas stove, turn the burner on and set the loaded pan on the heat. Using an electric stove, turn the burner on to heat but don’t place the pan on the burner until it is heated to medium high.
Umami – “Taking its name from Japanese, umami is a pleasant savoury taste imparted by glutamate, a type of amino acid, and ribonucleotides, including inosinate and guanylate, which occur naturally in may foods including meat, fish, vegetables and dairy products. As the taste of umami itself is subtle and blends well with other tastes to expand and round out flavors, most people don’t recognize umami when they encounter it, bit it plays an important role making food taste delicious.” From Umami Information Center.
Another name for Gyoza is Pot Sticker.
- Exchange napa cabbage for regular cabbage but chopped it very finely or parboil before chopping to soften.
- Exchange ground pork for ground chicken.
- Exchange fresh ginger for 1/2 ground ginger.
Cook with Sauces
Written by Helen Horton
Photographs by Helen Horton
Updated: May 1, 2012