Bebe Taian: Yaki Gyoza

May 13, 2012

Yaki Gyoza

I've had a love affair with gyoza for about two months now. With so little time and energy to spare, I'd be eating out all the time (and then I'd have to work more to pay for it!) if I didn't have gyoza made. I can make the basic 'mash' with about half an hour during the week, and wrap it in individual sections to freeze for later. I don't even have to defrost it all the way before cooking. The steaming process gets them very thoroughly cooked!

My gyoza tend to be pretty bland. Allergies and whatnot, so I keep it simple. So here are two recipes- the good but relatively bland recipe, and the recipe with a LOT of different flavours! If you're just starting out, maybe try my recipe first because it's simpler to make. You can then add the rest of the stuff to the mixture.

The gyoza noodles can be acquired by the stack from any asian market, and acceptable substitutes can sometimes be found in Wal-marts. You might be able to find them online. They are like wonton wrappers, but round, about 3" across. They come in a yellowish colour and a white colour. I usually get the white ones. They are usually in the frozen foods section; I defrost mine in the fridge overnight before making anything. Then I store them in tupperware for up to a week. Don't let them sit out all at once- they'll get stiff and crack! Just take what you need and keep the rest slightly cold and moist.Gyoza dipping sauce can be bought pre-made by the bottle. It usually involves soy sauce and garlic oil.


BASIC PAN-FRIED CHICKEN GYOZA (Yaki Gyoza)


1lb ground chicken (you can also use beef, pork, or various seafoods)
1/2 large onion, finely chopped
1-2 leaves washed cabbage leaves, finely chopped
1tsp salt
2tsp pepper
3tbsp shoyu (soy sauce)
2-3 strands scallions, finely chopped (scallions are green onions)
Small saucer of water, set aside
Butter
Cooking oil
Gyoza noodles

I suggest you mix this directly in the tupperware you're going to store it in. Saves dishwashing and all. Put the chicken in the tupperware. Add the green onions, shoyu, salt, and pepper.

Get out a small frying pan. Put a small amount of butter in the bottom of the pan. This is important- use real butter! Otherwise, the onions will have a radically different taste. The pan should be on med. heat, but adjust for your stove. When the butter in the pan begins to melt, toss in your finely chopped onions and stir. You want them to caramelize and turn brown on the edges a bit. This brings out their flavour, and a little sweetness. Once the onions are caramelized, dump those in the tupperware too. Using the same pan, fill it with just a little water, enough for steaming the cabbage. Toss the cabbage in the water while it's heating, and put a lid over it. Watch that it doesn't burn. It doesn't have to cook all the way, since it'll cook again when the completed gyoza are cooked.When the cabbage is done, toss that into the tupperware. Mix everything together until the veggies are evenly distributed. Wash the frying pan out and keep it on the stove. Turn the stove off for now.

Now here's the easy part: stuffing the noodles. It takes practice to figure out how much you can get into yours without breaking the noodle, or the noodle opening during cooking. Some fillings expand (potatoes, cheeses, etc); others shrink. Chicken is one that shrinks a little. For me, it's about one heaping tablespoon of mixture per noodle. I shape it so that it roughly fills half of the noodle on one side, leaving about 1cm around the edges to seal the noodle shut. Then, wipe the edges with water and press the noodle firmly shut. Once it's closed, hold the folded edges and push the noodle down slightly so that the middle part can stand itself up. You might have to reclose the noodle a little.

I can eat about seven or eight gyoza by myself as a meal, so that's how many I make at a time. Make however many you think you'll be eating. Pour some oil into the bottom of your now-clean frying pan. Don't use too much; just enough to cover the bottom with a thin layer. While the pan is still cold, dip the bottoms of the gyoza in so that they're covered in oil. This seems to prevent some sticking, since I use cast iron cookware. Do not overcrowd your pan- you don't want the noodles sticking to each other!

Heat the pan to medium heat. Remember to shift the noodles a bit while it's heating up, again to prevent sticking. Let them cook until golden brown on the bottom. Now here's the hard part: the steaming. DO NOT BURN YOURSELF. Get your lid in one hand, and half a cup of water in the other. Hold the lid diagonally over the hot pan. When the water hits the oil, it's going to splatter. Hot oil is serious business. The lid should prevent the vast majority of it from going everywhere, including on you. Pour the water in quickly, and just as quickly, put the lid on the pan. Let the gyoza cook for about 5-10 minutes, until the water evaporates out. Lift one gyoza out of the pan and cut it in half to see if it's done. They usually are by about then. Then... eat!

ADDITIONAL STUFF:

You can add other stuff for flavour! How awesome is that? Go! Experiment!
- 1 clove minced garlic
- 1" piece grated ginger (or 1-2tsp ginger powder)
- 1tsp sesame oil
- Chinese cabbage instead of Napa
- Peppers, finely chopped or minced
- Chili oil (or mix 1-2tsp sriracha chili with 6tbsp shoyu, 4tbsp rice vinegar, and 1tsp sake for a dipping sauce)

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