Monday, July 18, 2011

Yaki Gyoza – exceptionally good for the human soul

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From the first moment I tasted Yaki Gyoza, I was addicted. The pan-fried crust of the dumpling wrapper... the succulent filling... the simple dipping sauce, it was love at first bite.

Yaki Gyoza - Japanese for Utterly Delicious

While Gyoza is the Japanese name, these little dumplings are thought to have originated in China more than a thousand years ago, with the first mention in literature describing them as “being exceptionally good for the human soul”.

Living in the depths of beautiful County Wicklow presents a major hindrance to my Gyoza addiction – I live in the-middle-of-nowhere. Well, in the-middle-of-nowhere-near-an-Asian-restaurant-that-serves-these-divine-morsels.

To avoid complete withdrawal, I’ve created a gyoza package – wrappers, filling, sauce – from scratch. I’ve chosen a pork filling. You could use any meat or fish, create a vegetarian version, or even fill them with fresh fruit and deep-fry them for a dessert version.

A haiku: Yaki Gyoza / Also known as potstickers /Always delicious

For approximately 30 dumplings you will need...
Gyoza Wrappers
200g plain flour
75g corn flour
½ teaspoon salt
165 mls boiling water (approximately)

1                 Place the plain flour, corn flour and salt in a stand mixer, with a dough hook*. Slowly add the boiling water, mixing all the time. Keep adding the water and mixing until there is no dry mixture left and the ingredients come together in a soft smooth ball. You may not need all the water, or you may need a little more – it depends on the weather and on the flour you are using. Continue mixing for a further 5 minutes. (*You can mix this with chopsticks, then knead by hand for 5 minutes once the mixture forms a ball but it is pretty labour-intensive).
2                    Cover the dough and place in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to cool and rest.
3                    What follows is my non-traditional way of making the wrappers, but hey, it works! On a work surface liberally dusted with flour, roll the rested dough out to a thickness of about 3mm (about the thickness of a €1/£1 coin.
4                    Using a 7cm (3”) cookie cutter, stamp out rounds of the dough, then roll these rounds out to approximately 10cm (3 ¾”)  in diameter, making the edges slightly thinner than the centre. This helps keep the dumpling from splitting during cooking. Stack the prepared gyoza wrappers, dusting with flour between layers to prevent them sticking, and wrap in clingfilm. Chill until ready to use.

Gyoza Filling (Pork)
80g cabbage, shredded, finely chopped and sprinkled with ½ teaspoon fine table salt
400g minced pork (ground pork)
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
3 fat cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon mirin or sake
¾ teaspoon fine table salt
a pinch of caster sugar
80g spring onions (scallions), finely chopped
5 dehydrated Chinese mushrooms, soaked in boiling water until soft, then drained and finely chopped
On the way to becoming exceptionally good for the soul
1                    First, prepare the cabbage: once you have sprinkled the cabbage with a ½ teaspoon of salt, set aside for about 30 minutes. Then, wrap in a clean tea-towel or cheesecloth and wring the moisture out.
2                    Place the pork in a mixing bowl and add the ginger, and garlic. Mix well – hands are best (if you are squeamish about this task, use food-grade gloves or mix in a stand mixer). Add the soy sauce, sesame oil, mirin/sake, salt and sugar, mixing well between additions. The meat should be a sticky paste.
3                    Add the prepared cabbage, spring onions and mushrooms and mix well. To test the mixture for seasoning, fry a small piece until cooked through, taste and adjust as necessary. Chill the raw mixture until ready to use.

Soy far, soy good

To assemble the gyoza (right-handed instructions - swap obviously if you favour the left)
1                    Sprinkle a tray with flour and fill a small bowl with cold water.
2                    Place a wrapper in your  left hand, so that the edge touches the tips of your fingers. With your right hand, place approximately a teaspoonful of the mixture in the centre of the wrapper. Don’t over-fill or the dumplings will be difficult to seal and will burst during cooking – less is more! Leave a margin of about 1.5cm (½”) around the edge of the wrapper. Moisten the edge with a finger dipped in cold water.
3                    With your right hand, fold the gyoza into a crescent, wedging it open at the top with your index finger. You are now going to pleat one side of the crescent: with your free hand, pinch the left side together. With your right index finger, make a small pleat and with your left thumb and index finger, pinch the pleat, gluing it to the opposite side of the crescent. Continue making small pleats along the edge, pinching them closed until the crescent is completely sealed. The theory is that the pleats allow the filling to expand, making the dumplings less likely to split when cooking. It is probably a good idea to have the kitchen to yourself as you will probably swear profusely during the first few gyoza, but by the 3rd or 4th dumpling you will be getting the hang of it. Well done you!
4                    Place the finished gyoza on the floured tray, with the pleats at the top. Cover the tray of finished gyoza and place in the freezer so that the dough has a chance to firm up before cooking – 30 minutes will be sufficient. You could of course transfer the firmed gyoza in a freezer bag and freeze until needed.

We ain't the prettiest gyoza ever, but we're pretty tasty!
Note: If you are utterly confused at this stage, watch this guy. It is easier to do than to explain.

To cook the gyoza:
1                    My preferred way is to rub the surface of a lidded frying pan with some kitchen paper dipped in a little cooking oil. Pre-heat over a medium heat.
2                    Place the gyoza in the pre-heated frying pan, making sure they don’t touch. Add enough boiling water to the pan to come to a depth of about 3mm. Place the lid on the frying pan and let them cook in the steam for about 5 minutes.
3                    Remove the lid and allow any remaining water to bubble off. Add about 2 tablespoons sesame oil to the pan, lifting each gyoza so that the oil can seep underneath. Let the gyoza sizzle for about 3 minutes or until the base is golden brown. They are ready to eat right now, however I prefer to fry each side for a further minute so that they too are crisp and golden.

Serve immediately with this simple dipping sauce:
Time for a quick dip!
Dipping Sauce (per person)
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown rice vinegar (or wine vinegar)
a pinch of chilli flakes (optional)
Mix – it really couldn’t be simpler.

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  1. I'm obsessed with veggie gyoza, but have never made them myself. Now, I'm inspired! Thanks for sharing!

  2. I have never made gyoza from scratch before, but this looks incredible, Hester! I bet that wrapper has such a great texture... I am bookmarking this... A winner of a recipe, for sure! Thanks for sharing...

  3. Very impressive . . . and good for the soul. I am inspired to make these at home, too, now. I really do live in the middle of nowhere!!

  4. I know that addiction very well. I suffer from the same issue! And I too, have to make my own :) That's okay, as long as I've got Prince on radio I can wrap all night!

    Genius adding the sake to your pork filling. Wow...sounds delicious!

  5. We have remarkably similar methods of cutting the dough - I use a donut cutter without the hole attached! No matter how hard I try, I can never get the pleats, tho! Look amazing- thanks for sharing!

  6. These look fantastic Hester! I am still quite intimidated by most Asian cuisine (even though I LOVE it)! I will have to try these, I am sure my family would love them! Buzzed!

  7. Wow, my mouth is watering after looking at the pictures of your delicious dumplings! They are one of my favorite foods but I've never attempted making them myself. That is so neat that you even made the wrappers (and they are beautiful). I know I'd just buy the frozen kind. Your post is inspiring me to try my own!!

  8. Hester! These look simply delicious! As you might mind is already imagining a dessert version of them! (p.s....I love your haiku and I think your gyoza are very pretty!) : )

  9. These look amazing! No wonder you had to figure out how to make your own! Yum!

  10. I've bought these many times when eating out but I've never made them myself. After reading and watching, I think I can do this! They look wonderful!

  11. I can't believe you made your own dough!! I would just go with store-bought wrappings and make my own filling. You gyoza look wonderful! I need to make some soon… You pushed my "craving" button.

  12. The filling is delicious and beautiful with the sauce I loved, a true delicacy, hugs and kisses.

  13. I cannot help myself when I visit a Japanese restaurant - I have to order these. You've inspired me to make them. I had no idea they were so easy and liking the idea of having a supply in the freezer.

  14. I love that you made gyoza! It’s been awhile since I’ve had this… maybe I’ll be brave like you and make it at home!

  15. My goodness gyoza - Hester, they look fabulous! I love your creativity also in making them not just veggie, but stuffed with fruit for dessert. Absolutely stunning! Soy far, soy good? I love this! Photos are also beauties, as ever.

  16. Wow, these look perfect! Another food I've never tasted, but would love to...can't beat all those delicious Asian flavors...and yours look like they belong in a restaurant :)

  17. Mmm I LOVE potstickers and you did an amazing job on these! I still haven't attempted these on my own but you've given me new found inspiration, I'll have to try these soon! :)

  18. Gyoza fantastic recipe!!!!!!
    Saluti Giulia

  19. Beautiful photos...and CONGRATS TOP 9!

  20. We love gyoza, how cool that you made everything from scratch! They look terrific!

  21. I bookmarked you. I have to try this. It looks so crunchy and good.

  22. Love these Japanese snacks. They are really a delight to eat like the Chinese potstickers. I imagine Marco Polo must have tasted these and came away with the ravioli. Fabulous Yaki Gyoza you made Hester!

  23. These beautiful dumplings remind me it is long past time to make another batch for my man. He loves them and wont often deviate from his moms recipe, but I can sneak a few variations in here and there. I love that you include a recipe for the wrappers as well! So helpful :D

  24. wow! I love that you made these! very impressive! It's one of the few things I'll buy frozen because I love them so much but they seem to intimidating to make!

  25. Beautiful and delicious pictures! These gyoza look scrumptious.

  26. Yummm. You got such a perfect sear on these! Love doing homemade gyoza because you can really have fun with fillings - I find it so much work though. Good job taking on a project!

  27. Oh Hester I L O V E gyoza! And I've yet to find a recipe that works out well for me- looking forward to trying yours soon!

  28. I love gyoza but have never made them at home - thanks so much for great details on how to make them. Looks delicious!

  29. Can u make it with wanton wrapper too ? I love any kind of dumplings .. seriously :)

  30. Too inviting this Post! Today I tried to do my first "Chinese dumplings with pork," what a great job!
    Complicated for the folds, but then ... there are successful !!!!!

  31. I haven't tried making gyoza before but yours look great! I'm inspired to give it a try.

  32. I'm SO impressed!!! I too adore gyoza, but I've never had the gumption to give them a try on my own. Love the ingredients you have in your filling. My Japanese friend gave me a recipe for a wonderful ponzu sauce that would work nicely with these guys! Maybe a reason to get both on my table!

  33. I tend to think that little dumplings truly are the cutest foods in the world. They're so fun to dip in yummy sauces and just pop in your mouth. These sound delicious!


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