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Japanese Recipe Adventures: Gyoza

The best dumplings are these Japanese GaijinPotstickers!

By 4 min read

Gyoza, or potstickers as they’re called in the west, are a Japanese staple dish found everywhere from cheap izakaya to popular gourmet restaurants. They’re the perfect crowd-pleaser that can accompany a cold beer, a bowl of ramen, or be an entree all on their own.

Making them is also a fun activity for families and friends and it’s a lot easier than it looks! Skip buying prepacked or frozen gyoza at the supermarket because it’s just three steps: make the filling, wrap each gyoza with love, and pay-fry it until they’re ready to eat.

Before you start, you’ll need a non-stick frying pan or a hot plate. Gyoza requires steaming, so you’ll need a pan with a lid for the final step. Here’s my original recipe, including a vegetarian option!

Ingredients

It’s about to get messy.
  • 1 package of gyoza wrappers (ワンタンの皮 or 雲吞皮)
  • Sesame oil for frying
  • ¼ cup of water for steaming, plus more for folding gyoza wrappers

For the filling

  • 600 grams of ground pork
  • 2 stalks of green onions
  • 1–2 cm nugget of ginger

Optional

  • 1–2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 cabbage leaf
  • 2 shiitake mushrooms (or mushrooms of your choice)

Filling alternatives

Depending on your favorite flavors, add any of your other favorite dumpling ingredients to your gyoza filling. Although ground pork is the traditional filling of choice, you can use any kind of ground meat. As a vegetarian, I use vegan, soy-based crumbles as the “meat” base.

Filling seasoning

Ingredients for dipping sauce, and sesame oil for frying.
  • 1 tsp mirin
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • Salt and pepper

For the dipping sauce

  • Equal parts osu (rice vinegar) and soy sauce
  • A few drops of la-yu/chili oil (optional)

Directions

Gyoza-making station.
  1. Cut the ginger and green onions into small pieces, and dice any other ingredients that you want to combine. I used shiitake mushrooms and one clove of garlic.
  2. Combine these into a bowl with the ground pork, then add the seasonings. Now it’s time to get dirty! 
  3.  Mix everything. The easiest way to do this is to use your hand to squish and knead until the mixture becomes smooth.
  4. After a hand-washing, open your pack of gyoza wrappers. Pour some water in a small bowl, and use a spoon to scoop the filling. 

Folding the gyoza wrappers

Test your folding skills.
  1. Hold the gyoza wrapper on the palm of your non-dominant hand, and spoon some filling into the center (a teaspoon usually does the trick).
  2. Dip your finger into a cup of water and wet the edges of the wrapper. 
  3. Take the bottom half of the wrapper, and starting at one side of the semi-circle, start making pleats about one centimeter apart with your thumb and index finger to seal the wrapper shut. Once it’s fully sealed, it should sit up on its own on the plate. 

Tip: Once you’ve filled a plate with gyoza, cover it with a damp paper towel to prevent them from drying out before putting them on the frying pan.

I can never get the perfect filling-to-wrapper ratio, so if you have a few wrappers left over, fill them with cheese and fry them up the same way! Have any extra filling leftover? Make meatballs! Waste not, want not.

Cooking the gyoza

I like it crispy.
  1. Pre-heat some sesame oil over medium heat in a non-stick frying pan, then lay down the gyoza in a single layer (in two columns or a circular shape if you’re feeling fancy). 
  2. Cook for about 5 minutes or until the bottoms start to crisp and turn golden brown.
  3. Add ¼ cup of water to the pan and immediately cover it with a lid to lock in all the steam (watch out for oil splatter). Cook for another three to five minutes until the water has evaporated. 
  4. Remove the lid and add a drizzle of sesame oil over the gyoza. Once all the moisture is gone, and the bottoms are crispy and browned, they are ready to be transferred to a plate! 

Tip: I like my gyoza a little extra crispy, so I also fry them on their side instead of just the bottom.

So, how did it come out?

Go, go gyoza!

The first time I made these pork gyoza, I used a regular pan instead of a non-stick pan. The gyoza completely fell apart when I tried to peel them off of the pan. This time, I was thrilled when the gyoza slid off the pan with a beautiful golden brown crisp on the bottom. 

The next time I make gyoza, I’d love to try making a bottom lattice or crispy skirt, commonly seen when having Japanese gyoza in restaurants. This requires mixing a slurry of flour and water, then adding it to the frying pan while the gyoza is steaming. Anything to get crispier! 

Hungry? Check out more of our Japanese Recipe Adventure series. Let us know what recipe you’d like to see us try next in the comments!

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