Gyoza, Japanese Potstickers
Gyoza, or Japanese potstickers, are very similar to Chinese fried dumplings (jiaozi). The only difference is that they tend to be more delicately seasoned and the wrappers are generally almost transparent.
Visiting New York City’s immense Chinatown recently was an incredible treat and I can’t wait to share some of my discoveries with you. In fact, I enjoyed the food so much that I came home craving more and yearning to eat Japanese gyoza.
As a child, I used to look forward to Friday, because my Japanese Auntie (whom I fondly called Second Mother) always prepared gyoza. So, as soon as I got off the school bus, I would run to my Auntie’s house. We children would gather around the large kitchen table and enthusiastically wrap dumplings for an hour or two, looking forward to the evening’s feast.
Needless to say, I missed these Friday feasts when I grew up and moved away. Thus, I had to ask my Auntie for her recipe and begin making them at home. Though I haven’t continued my Auntie’s Friday tradition, my family enjoys the very same gyoza I grew up with.
Before writing up this recipe, I did a bit of research on the internet about gyoza. I was surprised to discover that a lot of Japanese cooks use additional ingredients my Auntie didn’t include in her recipe. These items include: soy sauce, ginger, and garlic.
Unfortunately, my Auntie has passed away. So, I couldn’t ask her for an opinion about these other ingredients. However, I have opted to leave her recipe as is because:
- I find the addition of soy sauce completely unnecessary. The dumpling sauce is salty enough to season the dumplings on its own.
- Ginger and garlic would certainly taste nice. Nonetheless, I have never missed them in the past.
Tips & Tricks
Gyoza are very quick and easy to prepare. However, there are a few minor and easily avoided pitfalls to consider before you embark on preparing them.
The gyoza skins tend to get stickier as they get warmer. So, to avoid having all your potstickers stuck together in a big lump, I suggest you take the following precautions:
- Wrappers: Thaw the wrappers in the fridge, rather than on the counter. Only remove them from the fridge at the last minute prior to wrapping your dumplings. Colder wrappers are less sticky.
- Wax Paper: I like to line the plate I use for the prepared dumplings with wax paper to avoid having the dumplings stuck to the plate. Avoid stacking. However, if you must stack your prepared dumplings, put a layer of wax paper between each stack.
- Space: Leave space between your dumplings, both on the plate and in the skillet. Do not allow the dumplings to touch.
- Relax: Learning is all about trial and error. If you have a couple of dumplings that stick together, don’t worry. They will still taste delicious!
As with other Asian recipes, the cooking goes very quickly. Thus it is essential to prep everything — including the sauce — before you start cooking.
In addition, it is critical that you chop both the Napa cabbage and the spring onions very finely. My Auntie recommended doing this in a food processor, fitted with a chopping blade. Personally, I prefer doing it by hand. Either way, it is essential that the ingredients be finely chopped. If not, the vegetables will not be well cooked when the gyoza are otherwise ready.
As you wrap your dumplings, be careful not to overfill them. Overfilling results in dumplings that burst and create a mess in your pan. A couple of teaspoons of filling per wrapper is more than adequate.