If you follow me on Instagram, you know that at the age of 32, I am currently living my best life of being a student again. I am one of the few ‘Mature students’ in a sea of 66 teenagers in my Culinary arts course and I must say that the experience of going back to college as an adult is truly enlightening.
The prospect is usually terrifying in the beginning, but the anxiety passes quickly as mature students seek each other and the younger lot seems less and less daunting as the term progresses. You make new friends and slowly get settled with the dynamics of the busy student life.
Speaking of cooking itself, the first few days in the practical Larder class were uncomfortable for me because most of the meats and ingredients that we had to work with, I was not accustomed to in my conventional Indian kitchen. Not that my family is vegetarian by any standards, but things like beef, pork, fish and oysters would be alien to most Indians who have grown up there. However, this was expected and I had vowed to myself that the only way that I could be successful in this field was if I worked on developing my palette to the best of my ability. Therefore, I not even cooked with all of these things, but also pushed myself to eat them. Eleven weeks down the line, I am quite okay with most of them now.
I try to recreate most of the dishes that my taste-buds fall in love with at home….like these Gyozas that I am sharing with all of you here today. They are a type of pan-fried Chinese dumplings, commonly eaten in Japan, China and other parts of East-Asia.
Juicy on the inside, golden & crispy on the outside, Gyozas are perfect appetizers for your next dinner party. They freeze very well, so I make a huge batch and freeze more than half of them for another day. If you have unexpected guests on your doorstep, you will have an attractive, fancy starter to serve them in a matter of 15 minutes.
When we made them in class, we were guided by my Chinese classmate’s family recipe. Be aware that they are best made with pork, because it has the perfect moistness for the dish. I wanted to make them with chicken but my classmate said that chicken is a dry meat and should be avoided. Having said that, you certainly can use any meat instead. The vegetarian version will be a bit more tricky because of all the moisture from the veggies without a binding protein, but it is do-able. So, for the first time in my life, I bought pork for my home. I have to admit, that these dumplings are divine when made with pork.
The key ingredients in the filling are cabbage, shiitake mushrooms and scallions. Also, I would highly recommend making your own pastry dough as it is much softer and pliable than the store-bought wrappers that dry up very quickly.
So, here’s the recipe for the best home-made Gyozas that you will ever make in your life. Give it a go and enjoy! xx
For the dough:
- 350 grams – Medium-strength White flour
- 200 grams- Luke-warm water
- ½ tsp Salt
For the filling:
- 350 grams- Pork mince
- 1 egg
- 1 bunch Scallion (White and Greens), finely Chopped
- 100 grams- Shitake/Shimjim Mushrooms, finely chopped
- 80 grams- Cabbage finely chopped
- 1 tsp- grated Ginger
- 1 tsp – grated garlic clove
- 1 tbsp – Dark Soy sauce
- ½ tsp White Pepper
- 1 tsp roasted sesame oil
- Salt to taste
For Cooking the Gyozas:
- A large non-stick skillet
- ½ cup water
- 1 tsp Vegetable oil
Combine all the ingredients for the fillings in a large bowl and mix together with clean hands until the fillings seems homogenous. Cook a small portion on the pan to taste for seasonings and adjust accordingly. Cover the bowl with a cling-film and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare your dough for the dumplings. Combine all the ingredients for the dough and form a soft dough.
Transfer the dough to the clean kitchen platform and sprinkle some dry flour on it. Continue kneading with both hands to activate the gluten. The dough should seem moist and soft and not dry, or you won’t be able to wrap the gyozas easily. Cover the dough with a damp cloth and let it rest for 10 minutes.
To make your Gyozas, divide the flour into 4 equal parts. Roll them between your palms into smooth dough balls. Work with one dough ball at one time. Cover the rest with damp cloth or freeze for later use.
Using a rolling pin and some dry flour, roll the doughball in an extremely thin sheet. It should be so thin that it should seem translucent.
Next, take a round shaped cookie cutter and cut circles of equal size to make your Gyozas. This way, all your dumplings will be of same size. Cut all the circles and keep under a damp cloth.
To make your gyoza, place a round wrapper on your palm. Put around 1 tsp filling right in the centre of the wrapper. Do not over-fill the stuffing. That’s the biggest mistake you can make while making dumplings.
Moisten the border of the wrapper with some water for binding.
To wrap a Gyoza, fold the wrapper in half and pinch it in the centre. Using your thumb and index finger, make two or three pleats from centre to the edge on the left end of the dumplings. In the same way, make pleats till the right end. At each pleat, press it firmly to the back of the wrapper so that it sticks well. Once you are done making all the pleats, stick all of them to the back for the final crescent shaping.
Shape all the Gyozas this way.
To cook your dumplings, heat your oil in the non-stick pan. Put the stove on Medium heat.
Place all your dumplings tightly on the skillet in an attractive pattern and in a single layer. Let them roast for a couple minutes. Pick one gently and see if the bottom has turned a nice shade of Golden brown.
Once the bottom looks crisp and roasted, add around ½ cup of water to the skillet, and immediately cover for them to cook in the steam. Let the Gyozas cook, till the water evaporates almost completely, until about 3 minutes.
Remove the lid to let the rest of the water evaporate. If the dumplings looks translucent and sticky, that’s the sign that they are ready.
Transfer to a plate and serve hot with sweet chilly sauce! Enjoy!