Gyoza: Ultimate Dumpling Cookbook, 50 Recipes from Tokyo’s Gyoza King, by Paradise Yamamoto, the head chef and founder of Tokyo’s mamgyoen Dining Club, will teach you everything you need to know about making your own gyoza at home.
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Thank you to Tuttle Publishing who kindly sent us a copy of Gyoza to try out and review. One food that you will certainly come across in Japan is Gyoza. They are particularly popular in little lunch time restaurants for businessmen and women.
I recall the first time I saw some gyoza in Apita, a grocery store in Toyama; they were as close to a Polish pierogi as I could get in Japan. It was potato and corn, rather than the typical blend of pork. However, it was good and I ate several of them over my year in Toyama. Unfortunately, I never did find this particular variety elsewhere in Japan over the next year but I’m still talking about it. In my second posting in Japan, there was a gyoza restaurant very close to the school I was teaching in, and they were delicious! When I think authentic Japanese gyoza, this is the place that immediately comes to mind.
You can find pre-made and frozen gyoza in Asian food markets, but of course making your own opens up a whole other universe of flavour combinations and styles. Gyoza doesn’t just come in one style, although the most popular variety is the crescent.
This book has seven different wrapping methods that can be used to make a variety of delicious gyoza, along with 6 methods of cooking.
There are 50 different recipes in this book; that is a lot! You will find gyoza such as octopus. squid, fish sausage. wagyu beef, radish, shiitake, squid ink, cheeseburger, crispy pork, broccoli, eggs, bacon and eggs, strawberries, okra, ginger, bananas, and all sorts of other ingredients in this book.
As with all Tuttle Cookbooks, there is an introduction and forward to give some background about the author and, of course, gyoza.
Within the gyoza pantry there are 10 basic ingredients that you may need to make your dumplings. Not all of these are must-haves for every recipe by any means, but they are common ones that you may want to have on hand as a starting point.
The recipe directions for these dumplings are only a paragraph and the materials, as well just a short description. What you do is you take these items and go back to the methods at the front of the book to prepare each gyoza.
Now, as I said there are seven wrapping methods. They are all explained through picture demonstrations at the start of the book, along with a few additional tips in order to get it right. The most common type of cooking in this book is the flower blossom pan which is quite striking. Other ways are deep frying, simmering, steaming and broiling.
We started with something a little different, I think, which was the Fried Banana and Mango Dumplings. The recipe serves four and takes about 30 minutes to prep. It uses the crescent wrapping method and is deep fried. This particular recipe is obviously more of a dessert than part of the main meal, which goes to show the variety of gyoza you can make.
Everybody really enjoyed this particular dumpling. It was sweet and soft and crispy at the same time. It is rich so it is not something that you would have everyday, but it is absolutely delicious as a treat.
The second recipe we tried were Sweet Potato Dumplings. Again, they were a little on the sweet side and also use the crescent shape of wrapping. This recipe however, is broiling, which gave them a speckled surface and was a different texture. They were very good, just be sure to keep your eye on them under the grill so that they do not burn or start a fire…yes, we may have had them a little too close to the over element – but we didn’t lose any in the process!
These ones are quite easy to make and don’t take a lot of time, once you have the sweet potatoes cooked; perhaps you can cook a couple of extra ones the night before for your meal so you have the leftovers.
These will also be quite good for putting them on the BBQ if you were out for a picnic somewhere, for something different. They look complicated and it does take some practice, as my photographs show, but this was the first time that I had tried to make them by hand. You can go so far as to use homemade gyoza skins but they are also easily available in the Asian markets so much easier to use them!
If your children aren’t very adventurous when it comes to trying new food, perhaps give the Cheeseburger Dumplings a try! These were enjoyed by everyone, and were in fact, better than I had expected. Again, these are crescent wrapped and pan fried.
Or if chicken is more their style, perhaps The Colonel’s Crispy Chicken Dumplings will be a star. These are simply chicken fingers wrapped in gyoza skins with the crescent shape and deep fried.
As you can see, the more you make these, the faster and easier it becomes, just like any skill. My first ones were deplorable, but now I’m definitely getting the hang of it!
Now that you have the kids on board, try making something a little more healthy, and even more delicious! Broccoli & Egg Umbrella Dumplings use the Volcano wrap style and are pan fried. This was a different wrapping technique, so I did have a little trouble getting the broccoli to stand upright during cooking, but they are fun and flavourful!
Gyoza: The Ultimate Dumpling Cookbook is inspiring; you could start with it and use the recipes from it, gather your ideas and go with it from there to try whatever flavour combinations you would like in whatever style of wrapping and cooking that you desire.
You could start a whole new concept of dumplings in your home! Have them for breakfast, lunch, supper, or snacks; there is certainly a gyoza for every occasion. You’ll even find Christmas gyoza in this book that look like little Santa Hats!
One thing that I like about Japanese recipes are the originality, the imagination, and the creativity that is put carefully into every recipe, as well as the presentation of the dish. It is unlike any other place that I have been. Of course, you do not need to do that yourself (I wish I could do it as well with what I have), however, do what you can and the main thing is to enjoy the flavours of the food and the company that you are with.