Saturday, August 29, 2009

How to Make People Think You Are Awesome (aka Gyoza)

Though I'm glad that I've finally got some time to write another entry, the feeling is tempered a bit by the fact that it's only due to a complete lack of plans on a Saturday night. I'll take comfort in knowing that I've got lunch and dinner plans with friends on Sunday, so it's not like I'm a total loser.

Right, on to the food. Gyoza is one of my favorite things to take to parties and the like. Everyone is always amazed by the fact that you made them yourself, rather buy them (sad commentary on the current state of people's dietary habits, but that's another story), like you had moved a mountain or something. You will be praised to know end and people will tell their friends about it, but the truth is not only are they so easy to make it's stupid, they're pretty much impossible to mess up. If you have the core ingredients and don't use crazy ratios, they are almost guaranteed to turn out well.

I will admit that I sort of cheat on one thing: I buy the wrappers. It's not that they're terrible difficult to make, just a combination of flour and water, but buying them guarantees that they are the same thickness, so you don't have any that are too thick and end up undercookeded or too thin and break while cooking. Since they're just flour and water anyway, there's no worry about crazy artificial ingredients in the store-bought ones, so that's worth points in my book. If I had a pasta machine, I would probably use that and make my own, but I don't own one so that's that.

Anyhow, things you pretty much have to include in your filling: ground meat (what kind is completely at your discretion, though I imagine chicken would end up a bit dry), green onions or nira (chinese chives), ginger, and garlic. To be honest, you could get by without the last two, but gyoza are way better with them. My personal opinion is that you should use more green onions/nira than you think you should, at least close to 1:1 with the meat, if not more. It will keep your gyoza from being just a hunk of meat in a wonton. This time, I opted to throw in some minced onions as well, just because. Tekito? Yes, but delicious too.

So what do you do? mince up everything you're going to use in the filling. Add some salt and pepper as you see fit. Give it a little shot of soy sauce if you're in the mood, or whatever kind of seasoning sounds like a good idea at the time. Mix it all together really well and drop roughly a heaping teaspoon or so in the middle of a wrapper. Dip your finger in some water and paint the edge of the wrapper with the water (this is what makes it stick together). Fold the wrapper in half, pressing out any air, and add some crimps to the round side. I used to be too gentler when pressing the crimps in, but the real secret to getting sexy looking gyoza is to give it some tough love to make sure it really keeps its shape.

For cooking options, there are 4 ways you can go. The most common is to pan fry them, which gives you a somewhat crispy wrapper with a juicy inside. The second is to steam them, which will highlight the filling over the wrapper. You can also boil them for a more velvety wrapper or deep fry them for a crispy one. Since I usually pan fry them, I decided to steam this bunch, giving them 6-7 minutes per batch in the steamer, though I pan fried a few just because they taste so damn good that way too. Be careful not to overcrowd the steamer or they'll stick together and you'll have to risk ripping the wrapper to separate them

That's all there is to it. Chop some stuff up, mix it together, fold a wrapper in half and cook. Yet somehow that's enough to have people singing your culinary praise. Just smile and soak it in.

p.s. I hope everybody notices the fact that I am indeed holding that gyoza with chopsticks LEFT HANDED. Since you can't really work an SLR with your left hand and I don't have a tripod, I had to bust out my supreme skills to bring you that picture. Enjoy it and bask in the deliciousness of the food.


  1. Left and right chopstick skills are impressive, but never underestimate the "wow" factor of home-cooked food (especially gyoza)… ≥^,^≤

    (adding you to my blog roll)