Japan is not only heaven for Ramen and Sushi but also for Gyoza. In some parts of the world, they are also known as potstickers. Making these Japanese potstickers crispy golden brown on the outside and super juicy inside is quite easy and of course way better than take away!!
What is Gyoza?
Gyoza is a dumpling filled with ground meat and vegetables wrapped with a thin skin. 饺子 (jiǎo zi; the original Chinese word for Gyoza 餃子) was adopted to Japanese cuisine from Manchuria which is in northern China.
Difference between Gyoza & Jiaozi
Japanese wrapper is thinner than Jiaozi and the fillings are also cut finer as well. Furthermore, when the Japanese say Gyoza, it generally refers to the pan-fried Yaki Gyoza, whereas Jiaozi is usually boiled. The Japanese version is categorised into four types depending on how they are cooked; Yaki Gyoza (pan-fried), Sui Gyoza (boiled), Mushi Gyoza (steamed), and Age Gyoza (deep-fried).
Ground pork and Cabbage or Wombok are traditionally the main ingredients of Gyoza, but if you decide to use different ingredients, the name will change too! For example, Japanese gyoza can be also be called Ebi Gyoza (for shrimp), or Yasai Gyoza (for vegetables). The recipe I am going to share is the basic one that Japanese people usually make, with the main ingredient being ground pork.
Cabbage vs Wombok (Hakusai)
Which should be the next main ingredient? Cabbage or Wombok (Hakusai)? There is always a debate about whether cabbage or Wombok should be used. I used Cabbage this time because it is now nearly summer and Wombok is out of season. In my opinion, it all comes down to the freshness and availability of the ingredients, as well as peoples’ personal preferences.
Nira Chive (Chinese chive)
A few months ago, a Japanese friend in my neighbourhood (lucky me) gave me some Chinese chive seedlings (Nira in Japanese). Since this plant has grown so well, I decided to use some Nira in my recipe as well. Using Chinese chives or garlic and ginger is a way to clear the unpleasant meat smell that may linger. If you can not access to Nira, substitute with chives.
As I mentioned above, the Japanese potsticker’s skin is thinner. Where do I get the pre-fabricated wrapper from? I get them from local Japanese grocery stores. Chinese wonton wrappers are readily available from supermarkets however, I found they are thicker and chewy. I recommend getting Japanese wrappers if possible. They are sold frozen, thaw them in the fridge before use. Also you can make your own homemade wrapper easily.
How to achieve the crispy golden brown bottom?
Professionals use a Gyoza pan which is iron and the thickness of the iron is between 4-6mm. However, it is not practical for us to have a special pan just to cook Gyoza perfectly at home. I will recommend using a cast iron skillet at home instead.
The reason an iron skillet is best to cook potstickers is that the oil penetrates through the skillet surface evenly without repelling the oil, unlike a non-stick frying pan. As a result, this gives the Gyoza bottom an even crispy golden brown. Also, the heat is evenly transferred therefore cooking all dumplings evenly.
I have a cast-iron skillet (lodge brand) and its thickness is about 3mm (0.12 inch). If the frying pan used is thin, the frying pan will be heated unevenly, where the flame hits and where it does not.
Moreover, thick cast iron accumulates heat well and once the skillet is heated, you can cook with very low to medium heat. This results in a crispy outside and juicy inside as the low -medium heat gently cooks inside.
I sometimes use an electrical cooking plate because a whole bunch of Gyoza can be cooked at once, and it makes it easy to control the temperature too. When we had them in Japan, we always used a cooking plate and cooked it out on the table, just like when we would have Teppanyaki or Sukiyaki.
Technique “Steam fried”
Usually, Japanese Gyoza is cooked in a “steam fried” fashion, where it is first fried then steamed to finish them off. When using this method, the water needs to be very hot because if you add cold water it will bring down the pan’s temperature. This will make the wrapper absorb the water, and you will simply end up with a soggy mess, instead of a beautifully cooked crispy dumpling.
When the water evaporates entirely, and the wrapper becomes transparent, add a little bit of sesame oil for flavour and to make the bottom of the dumpling crispy golden brown. If you add corn starch or plain flour and water mixture, you can make Hanetsuki Gyoza (a recipe that I shared with you previously). Make sure you serve them immediately.
Most Japanese eat these potstickers with 1. soy sauce only, 2. Soy sauce + rice vinegar, Soy sauce + chilli oil called rayu, or 3. Soy sauce + rice vinegar + chilli oil. The golden ratio of those sauce is five:four:one. So five soy sauce, four rice vinegar, one rayu chilli oil.
How to serve?
It is best served immediately with a bowl of plain steamed Japanese rice. It is also served with Shoyu ramen and Shio Ramen as a side dish. I often serve with “Shiraganegi“, which is what we call the white part of green shallots, but they are cut in such a way so as to resemble fine strands of grey hair.
If you have any leftover or want to make a larger batch and keep them for later, freeze them individually then place them in a freezer bag. Stored in the freezer, they will keep for about a month. You can keep the wrappers the same way too. Place parchment paper in between and keep them in a freezer ziplock bag.
Variations of Gyoza
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- 32 Gyoza wrappers I used store bought
- 250 g Pork mince
- 200 g or 2cups Cabbage
- 20 g or ¼ cup Chinese Chives
- 20 g or ¼ cup Spring onion
- 10 g or ½ tbsp. Grated ginger
- 1 Clove 5g or 1 tsp Garlic
- 1 tbsp Sake
- 1 tbsp Sesame seed oil
- 1 tsp Soy sauce
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil for frying
- Chop cabbage, Chinese chives, and spring onion finely and set aside.
- Remove the skin from the ginger and grate finely.
- Using a garlic mincer, mince the garlic and set aside.
- Mix the pork mince, shredded cabbage, spring onion, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, sake, sesame oil, salt and pepper together in a bowl.
- Mix together well until they become well combined and sticky in texture.
- Spoon about a tablespoon of the mixture into the centre of a Gyoza wrapper and fold while pinching the sides together to close the Gyoza. Use your thumbs to fold it and use your right index finger to push mince filling in (see photo or mini video if you are not familiar with this method) .
- Heat a fry pan over medium heat and place the Gyoza in the pan and brown the bottom part of the Gyoza.
- Once the Gyoza is slightly browned on the bottom, pour ¼ cup hot water into the pan to steam fry the Gyoza.
- Put a lid on the pan to steam the Gyoza and turn the heat up to high. Steam cook for about 3 minutes.
- Take the lid off and let the water evaporate. Carefully pour a little bit of sesame seed oil around the Gyoza to make the bottom turn crisp and golden brown.
- Turn off the heat and serve the Gyoza on a plate with the bottom up for best presentation.