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Gyoza are one of S's favourite foods from childhood. They are little Japanese dumplings made from ground pork, Napa cabbage and ginger, and then pan-fried and steamed. S and I always make them together because they are really a two-person job. We make a few panfuls and eat as much as we can as a main meal. This is his mother's recipe, and it's very delicious.
The gyoza assembly line.
Prep time: 30 to 40 minutes
Cooking time: about 25 minutes per panful
Serves six to eight people as a side or three to four as a main.
350 g ground pork
1 onion, medium-sized and diced
a hunk of ginger, finely minced (as you would garlic)
8 large leaves of Napa cabbage (hakusai in Japanese), thinly sliced
6 mushrooms, minced, preferably shiitake
1 Tbsp sugar
a couple of pinches of salt
gyoza wrappers (preferably pre-floured, Double Happiness brand is good)
bowl of water
1 human finger!
1 part soy sauce
1 part rice vineagar
a few drops of La-Yu oil (a kind of hot sesame oil with chillis)
Mix all ingredients for the filling together in a big bowl.
You need gyoza wrappers from a Japanese or Korean market. Double Happiness is one of many brands you might find. Gyoza wrappers are small and round, they're about the width of your palm. Lay out 12 wrappers on a cutting board. Scoop a tablespoon or so of the mixture in the centre of each wrapper. The exact amount you find easy to work with may take a bit of trial and error.
This next part takes practice! This is the difficult part. Dip your one human finger in the water and wet a ring around the edge of the wrapper. Timing is important. Do about six wrappers at once. Now dry your finger. Next, fold each wrapper in half, pressing the wet edges together. Lay the closed gyozas aside on a plate with the seams facing up. Finish making your gyoza until you have enough to fill the frying pan you will be using, as shown in this Wikipedia photo.
The hard part is getting the right amount of water on the wrapper. You want the wetness to be just right when you fold it together. If it's too wet, it'll stick to your fingers and fall apart. If it's too dry, it won't stick to anything at all.
Put some vegetable oil in your frying pan and turn up the heat to medium. When the pan is hot, start putting in the gyozas by hand. Drag each gyoza in the oil to coat both sides as you place them. This will keep them from sticking together. Continue until you fill the pan. Then pour about one centimetre of water into the bottom of the pan. Put the lid on and let them cook 15 to 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, take off the lid but keep the heat on. Now you want them to dry out and brown on the bottom, about 5 minutes or until they turn golden brown.
As the first panful is cooking, make the dipping sauce and prep the second batch of gyozas. You can refrigerate the filling for one day and make the rest tomorrow, but don't freeze it.
When the gyozas have browned nicely, let them cool a bit, slide them all out onto a big serving plate, and serve with the dipping sauce.
Little gyozas waiting for their steam treatment.