My Gyoza Journey:
If I were to think of a last meal, Gyoza (or Pot Stickers) would be in the running.
I’ll order them – guaranteed – on every menu if they are available. And I must say, many are horrible, some are so-so, and a few are pretty good, but none have topped Tomoko Creed’s gyoza that she made for me & my family years ago. I remember them very clearly. However, making them in my own kitchen, I have always struggled..not with the mixture or flavor, but with them falling apart, sticking to the pan, being greasy and slimy, splattering all over the stove, struggling to get them to a plate without them falling apart. Ugh.
Lord knows why I was thinking of my Gyoza dilemma on this particular Saturday morning, but I was…. so I called Tomoko and said, “I’m so sorry to call you so early…but I have a gyoza problem.” At that moment my husband was sitting at the kitchen counter, nursing his coffee and looked at me like I had 3 heads…who on earth was I calling at 7:30 am to talk about Gyoza? Tomoko, that’s who. She said “Absolutely fine!” And then she laughed. She happened to be in Washington DC at the moment, in a hotel room waiting for her husband to finish a conference he was attending. In her usual fashion, she dropped what she was doing to help someone else (me), and my gyoza problem was her new priority. A true friend. I told her my story, and as it happened, I was making the same mistakes over & over again. She was clear, confident & straight forward with her advice …also didn’t make me feel like an idiot because of what I was doing wrong all this time. With her suggestions and encouragement, I was ready to try again. We didn’t focus on the recipe exactly, although we did go over it….it was the technique I needed help with. All credit to Tomoko, I must humbly declare I nailed it. I practically jumped for joy. A very, very good feeling. As far as I’m concerned, she needs to forgo her project manager position at her Fortune 500 company and be a chef…she’s absolutely brilliant in the art of Japanese cuisine.
The recipe I’ve linked is a classic pork gyoza recipe. It is not Tomoko’s. (I’m working on procuring that…) I’ll include Tomoko’s suggestions, though. Please, please try these. They’re outstanding. With Tomoko’s technique, I made 80 of these gems and they were gobbled up with a blink of an eye. (I confess, I love them as left overs – cold – straight out of the frig).
Thank you Tomoko! I’m working on the Shio-Koji!!
Use any filling you prefer, substitute chicken for the pork, or use ground beef, or use tofu or veggie ingredients. See the technique suggestions below for a perfect dumpling.
Here is the link for the basic recipe I used Food.com classic Gyoza Recipe
Salt the chopped cabbage and let sit for at least 30 minutes in a colander to let the liquid drain away, squeeze dry to get out as much liquid as possible then add to the recipe. This is Tomoko’s suggestion, too.
I used regular chopped scallions (Nira not available)
I used white pepper, not black (your preference)
I was shy on the sesame oil – used a bit but not too much to over-power
I added some minced water chestnuts
I added a dash of corn starch & a dash of sugar to the mixture
Prepare a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Lightly sprinkle potato or corn starch onto the paper. This will be the landing pad for your dumplings after they are filled & pleated. They will rest here, protected with a slightly damp cloth to keep them fry drying out before they are cooked. The light coating of starch on the bottom of the dumpling will make for a wonderful crispiness in the pan and prevent sticking.
Do not over-fill the dumpling. The dumpling should pleat very easily without filling oozing out. Pleat tightly and go back through to make sure no gaps. If the dumpling doesn’t ooze with liquid or filling in the pan, it won’t stick.
For the browning & steaming process, use a well seasoned heavy bottom pan. I used a well seasoned cast iron pan & Tomoko uses a well seasoned William Sonoma Celaphon pan. Do not over heat the pan, it should not be too hot. Needs to be medium – high with a minimal amount of oil but enough to coat the bottom of each dumpling. Too much oil makes for a slick and slimy gyoza – yuck.
Once brown, slip in the water and have a lid handy to immediately cover. The water needs to be hot before adding to the pan.
Steam and once the water is evaporated, remove from the pan. The dumplings should lift off perfectly and not stick. Set aside and cook the remaining dumplings in batches. In the pan, Tomoko lines her dumplings in a straight row, then lifts them out in a row to the serving plate.
My dipping sauce has 2 to 1 soy sauce to rice wine vinegar, a dash of sugar, a dash of sesame oil, tiny bit of chopped garlic, chopped green onion & red chili flake. Season to your liking.
And my superstitious addition – I make 8 pleats on every dumpling. 4 on one side and 4 on the other, meeting in the middle. It’s good luck. I’m all for that.