Dumplings! Who doesn’t love dumplings! One of the saddest things about becoming a vegetarian has to be the massive reduction in available dumplings. No more gyoza or xiao long boa, yum cha off limits… what’s a dumpling lover to do?
So now my favourite Saturday is one spent at home, mass producing gyoza for Japanese Banquet night. The menu for Japanese Banquet is ever changing, but two dishes always appear on the menu: edamame and gyoza. Over the years I have developed a range of fillings and while a selection are always on the menu I have to admit the mixed mushroom and tofu gyoza are my favourites.
The great thing about gyoza skins is they are made using only flour and water, unlike a lot of dumpling skins that are made using egg, so they are vegan friendly too.
This time we headed over to Tony and Raymond’s to set up a gyoza production line so Raymond could capture the action with his fancy new camera. On the menu were: mixed mushrooms and tofu, pumkin and ginger and kim chi and tofu gyoza.
The gyoza are fiddly to make so if you can enlist some help it’s worthwhile getting a production line going. Good conversation and a few Koh Samet Cups will help with the folding and filling. Start by preparing all your fillings first so they can cool before you start making the dumplings.
Mixed Mushroom and Tofu Filling
6 field mushrooms, finely diced
6 shitake mushrooms, finely diced
50 grams enoki mushrooms, separated and halved
75 grams firm tofu
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 tablespoon mirin
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon green onion, finely sliced
1 tablespoon coriander, minced
Finely dice your mushrooms, you want them really quite small.
Heat the sesame oil in a wok and fry off the garlic. Add the mushroom and crumble the tofu over the top. Mix, adding in the soy sauces, the mirin and the sugar. Toss in the green onion and coriander and cook down. This only takes about 2 or 3 minutes. Take off the heat and set aside in a bowl.
200 grams pumpkin (or sweet potato)
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
1 tablespoon coriander, minced
Either pumpkin or sweet potato work for this filling. I find the sweet potato is a little easier to manipulate into the dumplings due to the lower water content but both taste great.
Peel the pumpkin/sweet potato and cut into chucks of about 2 cms. Place in a container and zap in the microwave. You can steam or boil the vegetables but I find the microwave results in the lowest water content, making it the easiest to work with during the folding process.
Microwave the vegetables until they are tender enough to mash. Place them in a bowl and mash, then stir through the fresh ginger and coriander. Set aside and leave to cool.
Kim Chi Filling
200 grams kim chi, finely sliced
100 grams firm tofu
Kim chi is pickled Korean cabbage and is found in the refridgerated section of most Asian grocers. It has a really unique flavour, with a great balance of spice and acidity that works really well in gyoza.
Take about 200 grams from the packet and finely slice. Place it in a bowl and stir through the crumbled tofu. If you have left over kim chi place it in a small serving dish on the table to accompany the rest of the meal.
Now for the production!
Firstly make sure you are well set up. I get some trays ready for the dumplings and a small bowl of water to one side.
Hold the dumpling skin in the palm of your hand, dip one finger in your bowl of water and wet the outside of the dumpling skin. This will help you seal the dumpling.
Place about a tablespoon of mixture in the centre of the dumpling skin. Don’t overload it or you will have trouble sealing it (I am the queen of overloading). You also want to make sure there aren’t too many juices in the mixture or it will ooze out all over the place. Particularly with the mushroom mix make sure you drain off the juices before you use it.
Using your thumb, create a pleat with the front of the dumpling, pushing each pleat down against the back of the dumpling.
And then repeat…
Don’t worry if the dumplings aren’t perfectly sealed. Unlike with ravioli, which is tossed into boiling water, gyoza are steamed and then fried, so if there is a slight gap in the seal they won’t come apart during the cooking process (I do mean a slight gap though, so try to seal well!).
Once you have made all your dumplings you are ready to steam!
Line your steamer basket with baking paper, fill it with your dumplings and set it up on top of a pot of boiling water. Try to keep the dumplings from touching so they don’t stick to each other and steam for 5-7 minutes. You need to make sure you steam them for long enough to cook the wrappers through, otherwise they will be chewy.
Once steamed you are ready to fry!
Along with the distinctive shape, it is the frying that sets gyoza apart. Heat your pan and drop in about a table spoon of sesame oil. I use a paper towel to wipe it evenly across the surface. You don’t want to much oil in the pan, as you want the bottom to be a nice and crispy, more of a dry fry than a deep fry. Wait until the pan is piping hot and add your dumplings.
Fry them on the bottom side until well browned and crispy. It usually takes about 3 minutes, although it will depend on the type of pan you use.
Et voila! Kampai!
Serve with sides of soy sauce and chilli sauce, home made miso soup and steamed edamame for a perfect and complete first course.
Freezing: If you have made too many (if there is such a thing!) don’t worry, these gyoza freeze well. The recipe above made 50 gyoza, although we did have some filling left over, so we probably could have put out 75 if we had been sufficiently motivated. I always aim for a big batch as they will last for a few months in the freezer. I place my extras single file in slim takeaway containers. You don’t want to freeze them in a bag or too squashed up against each other or they will stick together while freezing and you’ll break holes in the skins when you try to defrost them.