We love Japanese food but as Japanese restaurants aren’t 10 a penny in our part of south-east England we sometimes treat ourselves to a homemade, slap-up Japanese banquet, although the wine still tends to be French. Gyoza dumplings are a key part of this culinary extravaganza along with homemade sushi, sea vegetable salad and tempura. The dumplings might seem a bit fiddly at first but it’s well worth the effort and after you’ve sussed the first couple you’ll get the hang of it.
We tend to make our gyoza wrappers but you can buy them to miss out that step. If you make them, they keep in the freezer for a month so can be made in advance.
Makes 14 dumplings
1 cup of plain flour
¼ cup of warm water
1 pinch of salt
½ block of well pressed block tofu
1 carrot, grated
¼ cup of raw, grated ginger
½ cup of beansprouts
4 finely sliced spring onions
1 tsp tamari
1 tsp sesame oil
Coarse black pepper to taste
Sieve the flour into a bowl, add the salt and gradually add the water a tbsp at a time while stirring continuously. The mixture will gradually start coming together to form a ball of pastry. Once it is a solid ball, not too sticky but not so dry that it falls apart, remove it from the bowl and knead it for 5 minutes. At this stage you can wrap it in cling film and leave it in the fridge for half an hour or so if you’ve got time. Letting your pastry stand in the fridge for a bit will make it easier to use. It will also keep in the fridge, well wrapped, for a couple of days.
Roll out the pastry so it is about 2mm thick and use a small round bowl to cut the wrappers out in approx. 13cm circles. The size is up to you but this works well.
When you have a pile of wrappers, floured on both sides, wrap them in cling film and put them in the fridge whilst you make the filling.
Crumble the tofu with your fingers into a large bowl making sure you don’t have any large chunks. Add the grated carrot, beansprouts, spring onion and ginger and mix well. Then add the sesame oil, tamari and pepper and continue to mix.
Place a spoonful of mixture in the centre of a wrapper, don’t overfill or it will be hard to roll. Brush the edges of the wrapper with a little water and fold it over lightly pushing the edges together to seal. Draw up the dumpling so it is standing up and pinch the two ends together by pleating them (see pic). Don’t be too concerned if your first one doesn’t look perfect as long as the seams are sealed it will still taste good. Continue until the wrappers or filling run out.
Put a little vegetable, ground nut or sunflower oil in your wok or large frying pan (note: you’ll need a lid) and heat for a minute on a high. Add the gyoza, they may fizz a bit, and flash fry until the underside of the dumplings starts to brown. Then add enough water so that the dumplings are half submerged and cover with the lid. Allow the gyoza to steam until the water has evaporated, remove the lid and continue to cook for a few minutes until the underside is crispy but not burnt (keep an eye on them). Remove from the wok and serve with a small bowl of light soy sauce and some sweet chilli jam. Use chopsticks if you dare.