Sunday, December 30, 2012

Gyoza: Japanese Dumplings!

Do you recognize these little dumplings from a visit to your local Japanese or Chinese restaurant?  Chinese restaurants call these yummy, pan-fried bites potstickers.  There really isn't any difference that I can tell; they are delicious regardless of what they are called!  Still, since my heritage is Japanese, we'll go with that for now!:)
My grandparents immigrated to the USA, so my parents were born and grew up in Colorado.  My mom made all types of dishes; she loved to cook also!  We had Japanese recipes fairly often, but that was always the menu for the New Year, no matter what!  Our "Japanese New Year" was pretty international though-- sushi and sashimi shared the table with my aunt's macaroni salad, ham, and one year-- a lasagne!  I guess it was actually very American!
Anyway, these little dumplings are so fun to make and even more fun to eat!  They are rather labor intensive since you have to form each one, but it can be a family project, or you can put on a movie, relax, AND feel very productive!  If you line the dumplings up on parchment paper and freeze them on a tray, you can store them in a plastic bag in the freezer.  Then you can have these little treats whenever you want!  
Gyoza can be filled with just about anything, but this recipe is probably the most common.  A lot of gyoza use Napa cabbage in them, but I had some beautiful spinach from the Farmer's Market, so I used that.  (Can you believe Texas?  December and January are the months for spinach!  I still can't get used to it!)  You can also use frozen spinach.
Well, I hope you try these tasty little bites!  They might add something different to munch on during the football games!  Happy New Year!
1 lb. ground pork
10 oz. fresh spinach (not the baby spinach), or 1/2 pkg. frozen spinach, thawed and      squeezed dry
1 Tbl. salt (if using the fresh spinach)
3 Tbl. minced fresh ginger
2 scallions, sliced with green tops
4 tsp. soy sauce
4 tsp. rice wine (mirin) or rice wine vinegar
1 tsp. sugar
2 Tbl. sesame oil
1 pkg. gyoza or potsticker wrappers (Don't use wonton wrappers, they are too thin. Find these frozen at the grocery store-- they thaw fairly quickly at room temperature.)
Vegetable oil

If using fresh spinach:  Make sure your spinach is clean by rinsing in several changes of water.  Chop it up and put it in a large bowl.  Sprinkle it with the salt and toss.  Allow to set for 30 minutes.  Rinse the spinach in a colander and squeeze out all the water.
Put the spinach and all the other ingredients except the wrappers and vegetable oil in a large bowl.  Mix altogether very well.  Get out a sheet pan and line it with parchment paper.  Fill a small bowl with water.
To form the gyoza:  Hold one wrapper in your palm and put about 2 tsp. filling in the middle.  Dip your finger in the small bowl of water and wet the inside edge of the wrapper.  Fold it in half and pinch the top together.  Now make three pleats from the middle out with the edge facing you (the other side stays flat) and press them firmly to seal the dumpling.  Now do the same from the middle out to the other side of the dumpling.  Make sure they are sealed well.  One side of the dumpling has pleats and the other is smooth.  Put the dumpling on the paper pleats side up and press down slightly so the bottom rests flat.  If you don't want to do this, just seal the dumpling edges flat, but still make sure to put them on the sheet pan sealed side up and flat on the bottom.

Now, to cook them!
Heat 2 Tbl. vegetable oil in a large skillet that has a cover.  Use medium-high heat.  Put the gyoza into the pan flat side down (pleat side up) and allow to brown on the bottom.  This takes about 2-3 minutes, but watch them carefully so they don't burn.  Add 1/2 cup water to the skillet, cover, and continue to cook on low, simmering 5-6 minutes (longer if frozen).  Uncover and cook for 2-3 minutes longer until all the water has evaporated.  
Serve with a dip of soy sauce and rice wine vinegar to taste.  You can add chile sauce to that if you like things spicy!

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