(餃子), also known as jiaozi
, have many
interesting descriptions in the West: Chinese ravioli
even "Japanese crescent
shaped pan-fried dumpling
s" (to quote JDIC
These days the sole meaning of the character 餃 is "gyôza", but
etymologically it's composed of 食 "to eat
" and 交 "to mingle
The Restaurant Experience
Mingled food? Food for mingling? Maybe both: gyôza are
filled with a mix of interesting
things, and since making them from
scratch is a rather difficult
process, it's a food
most often enjoyed in restaurants, not a few of which specialize in
nothing but gyôza. Small and relatively expensive, gyôza
are usually a side dish to more substantial fare, in Japan most often
, although in China they might well appear in a course of
. Ordering is usually by portion
, with a "portion for one"
) consisting of around 3 dumplings.
Before eating, each diner must prepare their own dipping sauce
consisting of the three magic ingredients: soy sauce
) and chili oil
), which you will find conviniently located on your
table. The exact proportion
is a matter of much debate,
but I like a large shot of soy, a smaller shot of vinegar and a few
drops of chili oil. Then just dip your gyôza in and enjoy!
Rolling Your Own
The toughest part of making gyoza is making the skin
s (皮 kawa
used to wrap the filling, as they have to be perfectly circular and
evenly thin (less than 1 mm). Unless you're the type of masochist
who enjoys making their own pasta
, you'll find it easier to do
what everyone else does and buy readymade skins in packs of 24,
available in the freezer of any Japanese or Chinese grocery.
Defrost for an hour in a warm place and then peel each skin off
And as for the filling, here are two favorites:
Traditional Pork-and-Cabbage Gyôza 本格派餃子
This is "the" gyôza filling served up by default
in Japan. A bit complex, but not overwhelmingly so.
Kimchi Gyôza キムチ餃子
A popular Korea
n improvisation which is also very simple to prepare,
since all the required spices are in the kimchi
- Mix together the filling.
- Lay out 24 gyôza skins on your
working surface and place 15g or so (around a tablespoon) of the
filling in the center of each gyôza.
- Fold the skin over the filling so it makes a half-moon shape.
With the fingers of both hands, press down on the circular edge
towards the center, sealing the skins together and packing the
filling in. (Leaving finger marks is a good thing, just be careful
not to break the skin.) Repeat for each dumpling.
- Heat up some oil in a frying pan on medium-high heat. Place
gyôza in pan in a single layer (do two batches if necessary)
and fry, stirring and turning often, until they start to brown.
- Lower the heat to low and add water until it covers the
lower third of the gyôza. The water will rapidly turn to
steam, and this steam will cook the gyôza. (This is more
difficult with an electric range, add more water if the water
evaporates before the meat is cooked.)
Serves anywhere from 2 to 8 people, depending on how hungry they are,
although I'd strongly recommend whipping up some real ramen
want to fill your stomach. The drink of choice is definitely beer
Personal experience (yum yum!)