We were at Sona’s apartment earlier this year for a pot luck party to congratulate two friends who ran the marathon and we all contributed to making the gyoza, or dumplings. My Japanese friends make them frequently at home and they were sealing them as fast as I can say “dumpling”. I was slower and mine came out a little askew, but at least they didn’t fall apart when cooking.
Americans call them pot stickers because, well, they stick to the bottom of the pot when you fry them. Koreans call them mandu and include them in a soup using clear broth, or mandu gook. You can substitute the pork filling with ground chicken or shrimp, but the rest of the ingredients are non-negotiable if you want to make gyoza, Japanese-style. You can go to YouTube and search for the many how-to-make-dumpling videos available. They key is frying them on one side and cooking them thoroughly by adding a little water to the pan and steaming them. Open up a bottle of Sapporo and you’re set for the rest of the afternoon.
1 package of gyoza skins
1/2 pound of ground pork
a small wedge of cabbage, roughly chopped
1 bunch of scallions, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
a knob of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsps peanut oil
1. Make the filling by combining all the ingredients except for the skins in a large bowl.
2. To prepare the dumplings, you’ll need a small bowl of water to seal the dumplings and a wet paper towel to cover the gyoza skins to keep them from drying out. Using a teaspoon, spoon the filling in the middle of the skin. Dab one edge of the skin with water and fold the skin over in half and pinch in the middle. To seal the sides, ruche and pinch to make pleats. (There goes my fashion education.)
3. Steam-fry the dumplings. Heat up the peanut oil in a deep frying pan. Add the dumplings one side down and fry for 3 minutes. Lower the heat and add 1/4-cup of water. Cover to steam the dumplings for about 8 minutes, or until most of the water has evaporated. Remove using a heat-resistant spatula to a plate lined with paper towel. Dip in soy sauce and vinegar mixture.