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…
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.
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.
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.
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 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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