Real cooking is more about following your heart than following recipes.~Unknown
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Gyoza (Potstickers) Jiaozi
We are going to start of this journey with a traditional favorite!
Just about everything you eat has a story to tell. Everything originated from somewhere, was inspired by something, or in some cases – was created accidentally. Japanese food usually has a story that dates back for centuries, sometimes older than the history of Japan itself!
Gyozas are made of a thin sheet of wheat flour with a finely textured filling made of vegetables or meat that can be boiled, steamed, or fried. Their origin stems from China with the invention of Jiaozi. In fact, gyoza is the Japanese pronunciation of jiaozi!
Gyoza can be prepared in many different ways. There are lots of different fillings to choose from, and many families have different unique recipes that have been passed down through the generations. Preparation methods vary from region to region. Some typical fillings include beef, chicken, prawns, fish, pork, and mutton, which can be mixed with vegetables such as cabbage, carrot, garlic, chives, celery, mushroom, spinach, and spring onions.
There are a few theories of where the name “jiaozi” originated. One of the most popular theories is that jiaozi was named because of its unique horn shape since the Chinese word for “horn” is jiao.
Jiaozi are rumored to be invented by a Zhang Zhongjing, a practitioner of Chinese medicine to treat frostbitten ears. He would boil lamb meat, peppers, and medicines in a pot and then wrap the filling in small dough wrappers. He then used them to warm poor people’s ears who did not have sufficient clothing or food in the winter. Overtime, Zhang Zhongjing’s recipe was adapted and imitated by the people of China.
Japanese soldiers became familiar with jiaozi during World War II when they were quartered in China. When the soldiers returned home to Japan they wanted to recreate jiaozi and thus the gyoza was born.
Today, gyoza is found as an appetizer in many Japanese restaurants all over the world and constantly keeps changing to make different variations.
At Bloom, we serve a pork and vegetable gyoza, which is five bites full of rich history and rich flavor. Our savory-sweet friend dumplings are full of Cabbage, Pork, Onion, Soy Sauce (Water, Soybeans, Wheat, Salt) Wrapper: Unbleached Wheat Flour Enriched (Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Water, Corn Starch, Salt, Soy Bean Oil. (Contains: Wheat, Soy, Sesame Seed Oil.) Cooking methods also vary, and the dumplings can be boiled, steamed, pan-fried, or made as part of a soup dish. So come try one of most popular appetizers and taste a piece of history!
Serving gyoza is supposed to bring wealth and prosperity to the provider, as the shape of these dumplings is reminiscent of yuan bao silver or gold ingots, which were used as currency at the time of the Ming dynasty.
It is traditional for many Chinese people to eat dumplings at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve, and some will even conceal a coin inside one of the dumplings for a lucky recipient to discover.
Nowadays, gyoza is eaten worldwide, and while commonly a lunch or dinner foodstuff, in some cultures, gyoza are eaten for breakfast too when served with xiaolongbao – usually at budget roadside restaurants.
Gyoza is generally considered a relatively healthy food, but of course, the cooking method of choice, as well as the quantity consumed, makes a big difference. If you eat them in moderation and choose a healthier cooking option such as boiling or steaming, they are reasonably healthy food. Frying the dumplings adds fat, and using fattier meats will also make them less healthy.
Bloom’s Pork & Vegetable Gyoza
Bloom’s Famous Hand Crafted Gyoza
1. Prepare the filling
Gyoza filling is traditionally made from ground meat and vegetables. However, it is possible to make vegetarian versions, and some more inventive recipes see gyoza filled with many different flavour combinations.
A traditional gyoza filling should include meat such as chicken, beef or pork, which is ground or chopped into tiny pieces. The meat should contain some fat so avoid super lean meats as the fat will help to keep it moist and tender. Here at bloom we like using minced pork for extra flavour.
Next, prepare the cabbage, which should be squeezed to remove as much water as possible. To do this add salt to chopped cabbage to draw out any remaining water, waiting for around 15 minutes to allow this to happen before squeezing it out using kitchen roll to absorb the excess.
Napa cabbage is best and will help to break up the meat creating a better texture. Shred the cabbage or use a food processor to help break it up into very small pieces. Use as much cabbage as you do meat, so the mixture is 50/50.
Adding finely chopped garlic, ginger, and Chinese chives to the cabbage/meat mix will give it fantastic taste. Season well and use a splash of soy sauce and a splash of oyster sauce to add depth of flavour. You may also wish to add sugar to sweeten the mix, and cornflour to help bind it all together – doing so can be particularly helpful if you feel as though your mixture is too wet.
Don’t underestimate how helpful it can be to spend time working your dumpling filling. The more you knead and pound it, the more tender the meat will become and the easier it will be for all the ingredients to bind together.
Once the filling is ready, you should let it cool by chilling in the fridge for 30 minutes, which will help to firm it up.
2. Making the gyoza skin
Using store-bought gyoza skin won’t take away from the tastiness of the end product and will save time and effort. If you would like to purchase store bought we recommend these Hong Kong style wrappers for a thinner and more delicate texture
However, if you want to make them from scratch, you just need salt, flour, and water! Follow the recipe below:
2 cups all-purpose flour(240g) ½ tsp salt ½ cup of just boiled water (120 ml) potato starch/corn starch (for dusting)
Add the salt to the water and then little by little pour this into the flour to form a dough. Form into a ball and cut this in half then roll the two halves out into long, log shapes. Wrap these in cling film and leave them for about 30 minutes. Then sprinkle potato or cornflour onto the work surface and then cut each log into 12 pieces. Form each piece into a ball shape and then flatten with a rolling pin to form thin circles. Sprinkle each of these with cornflour, and then they are ready to use!
3. Wrapping the gyoza
- Place a piece of the gyoza wrapper into the palm of your non-dominant hand
- Take a spoonful of your filling and spread into the middle – taking care to leave enough space around the edges for wrapping
- Press the mixture into the wrapper to ensure it won’t move when you seal the wrapper
- Moisten the sides of the wrapper with a wet finger, then fold the wrapper over, so the two edges meet. Pleat the sealed edges together.
4. Cooking gyoza
If you are pan-frying your gyoza, add vegetable oil to a High quality flat bottom pan and arrange the gyoza, flat bottom side down and cook over medium heat until the bottom side is crisp and golden brown. This can happen quite quickly, in around 2 minutes.
Next, steam the dumplings by filling the pan with hot water or chicken stock so that it covers the base of the gyoza and cover with a lid. Steaming will allow the filling to cook through and all the wrapper to soften. This should take another 3 minutes or so until the water dries up.
Can you freeze gyoza?
Uncooked gyoza can be frozen and kept for up to 2 months.
To do so:
Line a large plastic tray with cling film and arrange the gyoza in rows, ensuring that they have enough room, so they do not touch and stick together.
You do not need to cover the gyoza straight away. In fact, it is better to leave them uncovered until they are completely frozen – then you can transfer them to an airtight container or bag.
The gyoza must be defrosted at room temperature before frying them.
Join us next month for more recipes from Bloom
“A recipe has no soul. You as the cook must bring soul to the recipe.”~Thomas Keller