Gyoza: Frying the Dumplings

I’ve already described one way of cooking gyoza, but there are variations. With the Japanese cooking method, sometimes the gyoza stick to the pan, necessitating emergency dish-washing in order to cook enough for dinner. The solution? Read on…

gyoza plate

My daughter has a friend who was born in China, and when the girls were in school, my daughter often ate at her friend’s house. Sometimes her mother would make dumplings which are very much like gyoza, but they were boiled (or steamed?). Because they were special, she’d give some to my daughter to bring home. To heat them up without over-cooking the noodle wrapper I’d fry them in a little oil.

Apparently this was the method employed by servants of wealthy families who wanted to eat their (left-over) food hot. And I think this is the easiest way to cook gyoza. All you have to do is to boil a large pot of salted water, add the gyoza, and cook until al dente. Drain them in a colander, or remove with a strainer, and arrange on a plate. Let the dumplings cool—if you are having guests you can prepare them ahead of time. Heat a heavy skillet, add a small amount of oil, and put the dumplings in. Don’t crowd the pan. Don’t prod them with your spatula, just let them cook. Test occasionally by trying to lift a dumpling; when they are browned, they will release from the pan. Arrange on a serving platter, cover and keep warm in a low oven while you continue to cook.

Browning the bottom of gyoza.Of course, the Japanese altered the cooking method by browning the gyoza first, then steaming them to cook completely.

Here they are, the flat bottoms of the dumplings are browning in a well-seasoned cast iron pan with only a teaspoon of sesame oil.
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Browning the flat side of gyoza. Many pictures of gyoza show them plated with the browned side up, but after all the work of making them pretty, I like to see the pleats. But I like the golden side, too, and the crunchy parts.
So once the bottoms are browned, I turn the gyoza so the flat side is in contact with the hot pan. Let them brown a few minutes, then add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of boiling water with a teaspoon of sesame oil.

Simmering the gyoza.The water will hit the pan, and a burst of steam will shoot up. Hint: don’t have your face or your camera there.
Put the cover on the pan immediately and simmer for about 5 minutes.
Recover from the steam, and take a quick picture of the gyoza simmering. Re-cover the pan quickly.
Continue to cook until the
Turn the heat down.water has mostly evaporated. Keep a close watch on the pan, and just as it begins sizzling, turn off the heat. (I turned the heat off just a bit too soon in this picture.) Once the water is gone, shake the pan so the dumplings move around. With all the shaking and moving, I forgot to take a picture of the right moment. Serve 5 or 6 dumplings for an appetizer or side-dish, 10 to 12 for a main course. Be sure everyone has some Japanese mustard or dipping sauce.

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11 thoughts on “Gyoza: Frying the Dumplings

  1. Thanks very much. Was looking for the Japanese method as opposed to the Chinese way that I’m used to. This really helped.

  2. thymetocook,
    I must have missed your comment. Hope you tried making some dumplings. They really are good.

    SuperChomp,
    You are most welcome.

  3. I like to add water mixed with flour in the end for that “undercrust” you get in Japan for the gyoza. Also after I put a little bit of that, I add some sesame oil in that part too.
    I am not a master of making gyoza, but it makes the whole thing taste a bit better.

    I love ra-yu based sauces with gyoza. Have to try your wakamethingy next time.

    I did the same camera mistake with taking photos of gyoza while steaming…not good ;)

    Thanks for added lessons for me about wrapping the gyoza. I am so bad at that. Need to practice more.

    • Hi Jaakko!

      Cameras and steam don’t go together. Not quite as bad as what happened when my brothers’ younger friend didn’t know they were teasing when they said to use a match to see if the gasoline can was completely empty. He wasn’t the brightest kid on the block.

      If I weren’t so busy these days, making gyoza again sounds like fun. One can get into a meditative state of mind…

      • I just did this in the kitchen at the restaurant I work at. Maybe the heat was too intense. It made an 8 foot flame. Also a perfectly fried order of gyoza. Thanks. Now I know how to do it right every time.

  4. Thanks for the tips on the frying/steaming portions! None of my gyoza stuck to the pan with that pan shaking trick. I waited till almost all the steam stopped seeping out from under the lid and the sizzling was almost all I could hear (there was a small bit of moisture still in the pan) and then I swirled. Perfect!

  5. You are welcome!
    I used to worry about scratching the pan or the stove, but discovered that it’s best to just let go and shake (rattle and roll)!
    Works with lots of things you pan-fry!

  6. Thank you so much Tess! I am Irish and a quarter Japanese-but very American. Growing up my mom would make Gyoza for me and I would always walk around saying Gyoza was my favorite “Japanese” dish LOL When I grew older and moved closer to my grandmother(who is the one from Japan :) ), she would always make my favorite dish-but like you said, special occasions and a lot at one time that she would freeze for later on. Then one day she told me that Gyoza wasn’t actually Japanese-but the it was Chinese, and the Japanese made it differently. Hahaha. Anyway the other day I finally was set on putting in the work to make some so I bought the ingredients. It has been so long since me grandmother made them for me-So I called her and my mom (whom live together) I called a couple times and no answer! They live in Vegas so you know where they were hahaha. So thankfully I found this page! And they came out perfectly, just like when I was a kid! Thanks so much for your help!-and the sauce my family uses is just a mixture of soy sauce and vinegar! It’s delicious :)

    • Shauna,

      I love it: a Japanese grandmother living in Las Vegas!
      Hope you mum and grand were having fun whatever they were up to! And I’m happy to hear that you made some good goyza.

      My grandparents were all Finns, so I never had goyza when I was a kit. The first time I had them, I was in love. LOL

      There is something magical about food wrapped in dough. The surprise in your mouth to discover flavors and textures you don’t see?

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