Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Pork Gyoza from Japanese Soul Cooking

I have been craving these gyoza (dumplings) since I first got Japanese Soul Cooking. I wanted to make them immediately, but it seemed a little to cruel to John (not that I was able to wait very long). Here's a sad story, when John and I were in Beijing four years ago he got food poisoning from some dumplings and hasn't been able to eat them since. Luckily those were steamed, and in Japan they're usually fried, so he's been very slowly trying to retrain himself on the fried ones, but the prospect of having them for dinner was not something he was excited about. Because of his lack of enthusiasm I invited Raku to dinner, so at least someone else would be excited. And John was actually a very good sport about eating them.

This recipe did not disappoint! They tasted delicious, they looked beautiful, the directions were clear. I whole-heartedly recommend this recipe. There were only two ingredients that were new to me this time, nira which are garlic chives, and rayu a spicy chili oil. There's actually a recipe in the book to make your own rayu, but honestly it seemed like a better education to go out and find it in my local supermarket. The nira were very easy to find, I've seen them before but thought they were green onions. There were two different types of rayu, one that seemed to be a filtered oil, and one that still had chili flakes in it. I opted for the chili flakes - yum!

The first step involves wringing out as much water as you can from the cabbage, and I was totally shocked how much there was. The recipe says it fills about 50 gyoza, but my tablespoons of filling must have been generous because I only got 38. There are great pictures that show how to crimp the wrapper together, but it still took my hands a while to get the hang of it. The good news is that you don't need to worry, they don't try and come open while cooking, and the frying is so beautiful it disguises any other flaws. Let me warn you though, filling and sealing them up takes a really long time. It's a good activity to do in front of the TV.

I made the gyoza hane (dumplings with wings) which involves mixing a little bit of flour into the water that cooks off, leaving a beautiful crunchy lace behind that connect the dumplings.  A Japanese friend made gyoza for me this way a year ago, and I was so excited when mine came out just like his. The recipe says to drizzle more sesame oil on after they're cooked, but I think they're great as is.

The final product was delicious - crunchy and tender, and bursting with ginger and garlic. When Raku arrived she said it smelled like her grandma's house, which I think is high praise indeed.

Read About Other JSC Recipes:
Oyakodon/Gyudon/Shiso Pasta
Mabo Dofu
Sapporo Soup Curry
Sesame Karaage
Tan Tan Men
Ebi Chili
Japanese Soul Cooking Review

New Ingredients: Nira and Rayu

Waiting to Be Cooked (see how my technique improves?)
Almost Done
Fireworks Beer - So Festive
Look at Those Wings
Yes, Please!

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