Gyoza, gyoza, my queendom for gyoza
Fried on the bottom, soft on top.
Plunged into a salty, tangy dipping sauce.
Some days only a gyoza (or twelve) will do the job.
They are the simplest and ultimately flexible food to make. They also never fail to impress the pants off visitors, yet can be made without fuss and cooked in a moment.
My first foray into gyoza was with a simple cabbage filling. I had tasted them at a sadly now defunct home style Japanese café in Carlton and after a bit of questioning figured out how to make them. Once mastered, I was on the hunt for The Ultimate Vegetarian Gyoza, and I think I found it.
Fresh shitake mushrooms (or 50:50 shitake and portabello)*
Crushed garlic and root ginger*
A splash or two of tamari
Process ingredients together so the mixture is still a bit chunky but not too smooth. Moisten with tamari (soy sauce if need be).
Take a package of gyoza wrappers. (These are available in the refrigerator of most Asian grocery stores. Unless I am making further batches in the next few days I freeze those I don’t use.)
Put a wrapper in your hand and place a teaspoon of mixture in one half of the circle. Run a little water around the edge. Fold in half and gently pinch together. You can make them plain like I have, or do some fancier pinching work if you are out to impress. If you are making a big batch, or preparing them ahead of time, place a damp tea towel over the prepared gyoza to stop from drying out.
Heat up a fry pan and add some vegetable oil (I tend to use Melrose raw sesame oil). Place in a semi circle around the pan, close together without over lapping. Mine takes up to 14 gyoza at a time. Cook on medium-high 1-3 minutes til the bottoms are getting brown. Add 1/3-1/2 cup of water and place a lid on the pan. Turn the heat down a bit and simmer for about 3 minutes. If any water is left by that time, take the lid off til evaporated.
1-2 tablespoons tamari
1-2 tablespoons rice vinegar
a few shakes of chilli oil (from Asian stores, this stuff is hot, so add it a drop or two at a time and taste).
You now have these wondrous pillows of goodness, soft on top and a little crunchy on the bottom. Dip in the sauce and devour.
showing the top (soft side) and bottom (fried)
Thursday’s cauliflower gyoza
I had a craving bad, but couldn’t get any fresh shitake and didn’t want to use dried ones. I was roasting some cauliflower and a leftover leek (to go with some pan-fried blue eye for dinner) and blended a little of the roasted vegetables with garlic and tamari to use as a filling. A very tasty and interesting variation.
But perhaps next time they could morph into…Vegan Ravioli. Many vegans use gyoza wrappers as an egg free pasta replacement. In this case use two wrappers to make large round ravioli, taking about 2 teaspoons of mixture each. I imagine roasted rather than fresh garlic would go better for this being both a mellower a flavour and adding a little moisture, and sea salt and pepper instead of tamari. Cook in boiling water for a couple of minutes til they float to the surface and serve with a napoli sauce.
* a note on quantities: A little goes a long way, as you only need a teaspoon of filling each. I use the small mini blender attachment on my magic Braun hand blender, unless cooking for more than 4-6 people.