And what is gyōza you ask? Japanese potstickers, my dears. Something I adore and order every chance I get when I'm dining out. But make them from scratch at home? Never even considered it. And if it weren't for blogger buddies Amy and Lisa, I would still be eating these only at restaurants, never realizing how amazing these can be if you make them yourself.....oh my, what a difference. Night and day.
Gyōza originated in China, and it's said to have been introduced to Japan in late 17th century. You can cook them in various ways: deep-fried, boiled, steamed, or pan-fried. And they can be filled with only vegetables or in combination with meat. The most common filling combination would be shrimp, pork and cabbage. And just so you know, gyōza is pronounced hard "g" Gee--yo--zah.
First, let me tell you how I discovered this wonderful cookbook. I was introduced to Andrea Nguyen on Amy's blog in February. And then again on Lisa's blog in April. Those two posts convinced me I had to try my hand at these so I ordered the book. And I thought: I can do these! I think.
So the book arrived and has been staring me in the face ever since I received it. I've been procrastinating; no question the book was intimidating me. The photos, the talent this chef has. Amazing. It was starting to draw dust on the kitchen counter; my thinking was that sooner or later I would either force myself to make something or put it away. Have you ever done that? The problem is I don't cook a lot of Asian food (basic fried rice, shrimp with lobster sauce and sweet and sour pork are the only recipes I've ever made. How Chinese and simple can it get?) and I certainly had never made dumplings. A couple weeks ago I opened the book, read it cover to cover, reread Amy and Lisa's postings and then spent Saturday afternoon making these. Man, were they good. And not as difficult as I thought it would be. But the best thing is this: you can make them when you have time and freeze them!
My pleating/crimping is certainly not professional, but passable. Andrea ( and the rest of you talented Asian cooks) would probably cringe. The filling was wonderful and the only hesitation I have is the dipping sauce suggested for this particular recipe. I really didn't care for it. I fiddled with a couple others and finally came up with one that I liked, but I can see it's going to be an ongoing project to find a perfect sauce. Perhaps you already have your own favorite dipping sauces, so by all means, use them.
I am going to try to give you directions the way Andrea did in the book, so while this may sound a little long and involved, I'll try to simplify it as best I can. These really are not difficult to make, I promise! And so worth the time (there are periods of dough resting, so it took me a good part of an afternoon) it takes. Make them on a rainy day and freeze them. And I bet your kids can make the pleats better than I did!
(Japanese pork and shrimp pot stickers)
From Asian Dumplings by Andrea Nguyen
Ingredients for the filling:
2 cups lightly packed, finely chopped napa cabbage
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus another 1/4 teaspoon
2 cloves garlic, minced and crushed into a paste
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
2 tablespoons chopped Chinese chives or scallions (white and green parts)
6 ounces ground pork, coarsely chopped to loosen
1/3 pound medium shrimp, shelled, deveined and chopped
Scant 1/4 teaspoon sugar
Generous 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons Japanese soy sauce or light (regular) soy sauce
1 tablespoon sake
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon sesame oil
Canola oil or sesame oil or a combination of both, for frying
Ingredients for the dumplings:
10 ounces (2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup just-boiled water
Ingredients for the dipping sauce:
(Mix together well so the sugar dissolves)
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
2 teaspoons sugar
slivers of scallions
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 to 1 teaspoon chile oil (optional)
Method for filling:
In a large bowl, toss the cabbage with the 1/2 teaspoon salt. Set aside for about 15 minutes to draw excess moisture from the cabbage. Drain in a fine mesh strainer, rinse with water and drain again. Place in a tea towel and wring out any excess moisture. You should end up with about 1/2 cup firmly packed cabbage.
Place the cabbage in a bowl and add the garlic, ginger, chives, pork and shrimp. Stir and ligihtly mash the ingredients so they start coming together.
In a small bowl, combine the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, the sugar, pepper, soy sauce, sake and sesame oil. Pour over the cabbage mixture and stir, breaking up the larger chunks of pork until everything comes together in a cohesive, thick mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside at room temperature for 30 minutes to develop the flavors. You should have about 2 cups of filling. You may prepare this a day ahead and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before assembling the dumplings.
Method for the dumpling dough:
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly dust with flour.
Have your filling ready to go because you will want to fill the dumplings right away.
Bring the water to a boil and remove from heat. Let stand about a minute.
Put the flour in the work bowl of a processor. (You can also make these by hand.) With the machine running, add the 3/4 cup of water in a steady stream through the feed tube. When all the water has been added, stop the machine and check the dough. It should look rough and feel soft but firm enough to hold its shape when pinched. Add water by the teaspoon or flour by the tablespoon if needed. (I didn't) Then run the machine for another 10 seconds to further knead and form a ball around the blade. Do not overwork the dough.
Flour a work surface and knead the dough for about 30 seconds for machine-made dough, 2 minutes for hand made dough. The resulting dough should be smooth and somewhat elastic.
Press on the dough; it should bounce back slightly, but leave a slight impression of your finger. Place the dough in a zip lock bag and seal tightly, expelling all the air. Allow to rest at room temperature for a minimum of 15 minutes to a maximum of 2 hours. The dough will steam up the bag and make it ear-lobe soft.
Method for shaping the dumplings:
Remove the dough from the bag, turn it out on a floured work surface and cut the dough in half. Return the other half to the bag, squeeze out the air and reseal.
Roll out the dough to a 1 inch thick log. Cut the log into about 16 pieces. (See below)
Dip all the sides of each piece in flour and form it into a scallop shape. Flatten the dough with a rolling pin and roll out to a perfect circle about 3 1/4 inches in diameter. (I covered the remaining pieces with a cloth and filled each one as I finished rolling it out.)
Hold the wrapper in a slightly cupped hand and place about 1 tablespoon of the filling slightly off center on the dough. (At this point I dipped my finger in water and damped the edge half way around.) Fold the dumpling in half and press lightly to seal. Pleat and press into a half moon shape and place on the floured parchment paper. Keep the dumplings covered with a dry kitchen towel while you finish working. Proceed with the remaining pieces and then remove the rest of the dough from the zip lock bag and repeat the procedure. At this point you can cover and refrigerate or freeze the dumplings. They will keep in the freezer for up to a month. Partially thaw and smooth over any cracks with your fingers before cooking.
Method for cooking the dumplings:
In large non-stick skillet, place 2 parts canola oil to 1 part sesame oil. Add the dumplings (it's OK if they touch each other) sealed side up. Fry for a few minutes until golden brown on the bottom. Carefully, add about 1/3 cup water. It will boil and bubble. Cover the skillet with a lid or aluminum foil and lower the heat to medium. Cook until the water is nearly gone, about 8 to 10 minutes. After 8-10 minutes, remove the top slightly to allow the steam to escape. When you hear a frying sound, remove the lid entirely and allow to fry another 2 minutes or so until the dumplings are brown and crisp on the bottoms. Remove from pan and serve with the bottoms up so they remain crisp. Serve with dipping sauce.