#1 – 48 Recipe Challenge: Recipe 41 – Gyoza (Japanese Dumplings)

Another savoury recipe this month – something I’ve been meaning to try for a while.  I just love these Japanese dumplings, which can be filled with pork, chicken, prawns or vegetables.  I thought they would be difficult to make but a friend recommended this Hairy Bikers recipe saying it was easy to follow; and so it proved.

I was torn between making pork dumplings or prawn ones (I avoided chicken because minced chicken is not readily available in the UK and I didn’t fancy trying to mush it up in the food processor and risk it going too far and ending up as unusable chicken slime).  Eventually I chose to make pork gyoza for no reason other than the fact that I was going to use them as the starter for an Asian themed dinner and I wanted to do prawn Thai yellow curry as the main course.

First up I had to make the pastry.  It is possible to buy gyoza skins in Chinese supermarkets but I thought I should at least try making it myself.  As it is just hot water and flour, it was actually more like handling a dough than a conventional pastry.  But, it came together without a problem and after resting, rolled out perfectly and cut easily with a largeish circular biscuit cutter.

The filling was similarly easy – just a few ingredients to chop and mix together in a bowl.

For putting the dumplings together I had bought a gadget!  I’d spotted it in a cookshop a few days beforehand and thought I’d give it a go as it wasn’t too expensive.  It did indeed press the dumplings very neatly together, but I found that the excess pastry squashed out and got into the hinges which wasn’t ideal as they then had to be cleaned out which was a bit fiddly.

Making gyoza with the gadget

Making gyoza with the gadget

I also filled some of the dumplings by hand to see whether the gadget did actually make things easier or not and in this case doing them by hand was very simple, so I’m not sure the gadget was all that useful.  Because the pork filling was relatively solid so it wasn’t a problem just to cup the skins in the palm of one hand, pop the filling in and press the edges together. (Although if you had a sloppier filling, such as that for an apple turnover, I can see that the gadget might come in useful as doing it by hand would be a lot messier!)

Finished handmade gyoza

Finished handmade gyoza

Filling gyoza by hand

Filling gyoza by hand

Folding the gyoza

Folding the gyoza

The gadget created rather uniform dumplings with straight edges.  I much preferred the look of the ones I’d made by hand with their twisted edges (and they look more authentic like that too).

Finished gyoza ready for freezing

Finished gyoza ready for freezing

The recipe made lots.  Luckily they freeze really well and can be cooked directly from frozen.  I simply froze them on a tray and then once they were frozen all the way through, popped them into freezer bags.  They do need to be thoroughly frozen though, otherwise they will stick together.

I found that they didn’t keep well without being frozen as they became sticky and difficult to deal with (even if stored in the fridge just for a few hours) so they do need either to be made, cooked and eaten straight away, or made and frozen straightaway for use later (even the next day).

I cooked the gyoza as instructed in the recipe using a combination of frying and steaming them.  A note of caution – don’t use too much water for the steaming stage as it does need to boil off and if you use too much the dumplings will become soggy and sticky instead of soft but a little bit crispy as they should be.  (I speak from experience – the second batch I cooked, using the exact measurement of water given in the recipe instead of just bunging some water in and thinking it would be alright, were much better).  If cooking from frozen, just cook for slightly longer – see this really helpful article on ways to cook them from frozen.

Served with a simple dipping sauce the gyoza were super tasty.

Pork gyoza with dipping sauce

Pork gyoza with dipping sauce

Scores for these:

Healthiness – 6/10 (Frying anything is never all that good but they’re not exactly full of fat)

Ease of prep – 8/10 (it’s just processes to follow to put them together, and the fact that they freeze and cook from frozen so well is really useful)

Flavour/taste – 10/10 (great to eat, good flavour and authentic taste)

These are definitely something I’d make again.  I’m very keen to give the prawn filling a go.  How brilliant is it to be able to knock a batch up and have these little parcels of loveliness just sitting in the freezer waiting to be eaten?

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