Yaki Gyoza (Pan-Fried Japanese Dumplings)

I think the first time I got fascinated with these slightly crisp and juicy meat dumplings was probably around the age of 7 or 8. Back then, gyozas (or jiao3 zi2 in Chinese) weren’t very easy to find as Japanese restaurants weren’t very common in Singapore. I remember it was a weekly treat for me after my ballet lesson(my mother would give me $1.50 to spend and it was $1.40 for a tray of 4 and obviously that only left me 10 cents to pocket) at the defunct Yaohan Thomson food basement. I would wait rather impatiently for the auntie to remove a tray of gyozas from the display counter, place it into the microwave to heat up, then proceed to slather the warm gyozas with chilli sauce(there was no vinegar sauce alternative). To be honest, it wasn’t crispy at all on the outside and neither was it juicy on the inside. Since I was only 8 then, I suppose I wasn’t much of a picky eater either.  But there was something about the simple concept of a lump of well-seasoned meat wrapped up in a piece of flour-skin that just makes it an irresistible snack, even for a kid. (It’s similar to a kid not being able to tell the difference between Van Houten and Godiva.) Given a choice between the red-bean fish pancakes which were going at about 80 cents(and obviously I’m not much of a saver!), I seemed to somehow gravitate towards the gyozas every time.

Anyway, it’s not the first time I’ve made these and the gyozas were a bit of a bomb-out the last time I tried making them(they got a bit too blackened in the pan) but like they say, practice makes perfect. So here I am at it again!

This was adapted from cookingwithdog’s instructional video on Youtube. I’ve modified the recipe slightly with a couple of substitutes(since I didn’t have sake on-hand).

Makes about 45 gyozas

Ingredients:

220g minced pork

3 stalks garlic chives (aka gu cai/nira), chopped

200 g cabbage, chopped finely

1 tbsp soya sauce

1 tbsp chopped garlic

1 tsp grated ginger

3/4 tbsp oyster sauce

1.5 tbsp mirin

1 tsp sugar

1 tbsp sesame oil

1/2 tsp of pepper

1/2 tsp bonito stock powder

2 tsp potato starch

1 packet of gyoza skin (from the supermarket)

Cornstarch and water (for sealing gyozas)

Gyoza Sauce:

1 tsp rice vinegar

1.5 tbsp soya sauce

3 drops of sesame oil

Sesame seeds for garnish

Directions:

Sprinkle half a teaspoon of salt into the cabbage and leave it to stand for about 20 minutes. Squeeze the water out of the cabbage and place into another bowl. This whole process dehydrates the cabbage (you know, all that stuff you learnt about osmosis back in school) and gives it more… if there is such a word… chewability?

Marinate the pork with the garlic, ginger, soya sauce, sesame oil, sugar, oyster sauce, pepper, mirin, bonito powder with your fingers till well blended. Add the potato starch into the pork and blend in again with your fingers. Then add in the cabbage and chopped garlic chives. Mix well, cover with cling wrap and refrigerate for 45 minutes.

Using store-bought gyoza skin, place about 1 teaspoon of pork filling in the centre, use the cornstarch mixture to coat the edge, then seal the gyoza, making folds as you go along. It takes a bit of practice but you should get it after the 5th gyoza or so.

I used an aluminum pan here but big mistake, the gyoza bottoms got all stuck to the bottom and it was a disaster! Had to make them a 2nd time round.

Place about 1 tbsp of oil in a non-stick pan in low heat, line up the gyozas on the pan and slowly pour in enough water to cover about 1/3 of the gyozas.  Cover the pan for about 6-8 minutes, until all the water evaporates. Remove and serve.

And here’s the final result. It takes a bit of patience to make these but it’s totally worth it.

Dip it into the gyoza sauce and enjoy!

A less healthy version is to deep-fry them. And amazingly, they actually taste as good as those you can get from restaurants! You can also add La-yu (chilli oil) to the gyoza sauce if you prefer them spicy.

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