March 15, 2006


Gyoza are Japanese dumplings often called potstickers in the US. A sushi place I frequent has really good ones, but they never seem to put enough of them in the order, so I was thinking about giving them a go when this month’s Cook’s Illustrated came. I like this magazine because it is more than just glossy pictures of pretty food in kitchens unattainable by us mere mortals. Instead, the CI folks take a recipe and test it four or five ways till they get just what the food is supposed to be. The most recent edition has directions on building the perfect potsticker, so I took it as a sign and followed their guidance. To a point, anyway. I wasn’t willing to try and make the dough for the wrappers myself (for crying out loud, it’s Wednesday night), so I found a brand of potsticker wrappers from Azumaya and was pleased – they held together while frying and weren’t doughy at all.

2 cups napa cabbage, minced
1 tsp salt
1/2 pound ground pork
5 scallions (white & green parts), minced
1/2 tsp ground pepepr
3 tbs soy sauce
3 tsp fresh ginger, grated
2 garlic cloves, smushed and chopped
2 egg whites, gently beaten
1/2 tsp ground red pepper
1 tbs fish sauce

Mix the salt and the cabbage together in a colander and allow the cabbage to wilt/sweat out a bit. This will take about 20 or 30 minutes, so set aside and mix the rest of the ingredients together in a large bowl. I kept a little extra pork on hand in case the mix was too loose, but didn’t need it once the cabbage got added. After the cabbage is wilted, squeeze out the remaining moisture and fold it into the meat mixture. Set in the fridge (or outside if you live in Alaska) and allow to cool for 30 minutes or so. This mix will at least keep till the next day, so you could prep it ahead of time if desired.

Place the wrappers on a cookie sheet or non-stick surface and put the gyoza together one at a time or the wrapper dough dries out. Place a scant tablespoon of filling in the center of each wrapper, moisten half of the edge and fold over. Press the air out as you pinch the edges together, and then push gently down to make them lie flat. You probably will have to do this in a couple of batches – I probably should have mentioned this earlier, but you made enough filling for about 35 dumplings.

Oil a nonstick pan heavily and arrange a bunch of the dumplings in a single layer. Heat the skillet to medium high and sit back, relax, open some wine. Give them about 5 minutes to start to brown on the bottom, and dump (ok, gently pour) in about 1/2 cup hot water. If it is hot enough, the water will immediately start to boil and foam. Reduce the heat to low and cover tightly. About 10 minutes later the liquid will have boiled off or been absorbed, and the dumplings will be wrinkly for lack of a better word. Remove the lid and bring the heat back up to medium high for two to four minutes till they are brown and crispy on the bottom. Slide onto a plate. You could blot them on a paper towel, but I found that they stuck, so if you need to blot, then for all our sakes blot quickly.

Simple is often the best route:
1 part soy
1 part rice wine vinegar
1/4 part sesame oil

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