It was just yesterday when I was writing about my recent Japanese culinary adventures. The truth is, I’m relatively new to Japanese food beyond the standard sushi or teriyaki chicken. Frankfurt has a lot of really good Japanese restaurants, and last year I travelled to Düsseldorf, specifically to visit the large Japanese area and many restaurants there. Ramen is my favourite, but there is a special place in my heart for gyoza.
These small dumplings are steamed and fried, so they’re nice and soft but you get a delicious crispy part too. I’ve tried a lot of different fillings so I’m not sure what the most traditional one is, but both meat and vegetable varieties super tasty. Normally served with a little pot of teriyaki for dipping, they are fantastic for sharing as a starter, or just diving straight in and having a whole plate of them. I love them dearly but I’ve never made them at home, so today I gave it a whirl.
I followed the gyoza wrapper recipe from Just One Cookbook and found the dough super easy to make. I ran into problems however, when I tried shaping them. Although not difficult, I could never get a consistent size. Part of this was that I couldn’t decided on big ones or small ones, and part of this was that the rolled out wrappers frustratingly kept sticking to each other, so I’d have to reshape and roll them out again and again. I would say this happened at least 3 times, no matter how much I floured each one there would still be a little bit that would stick and ruin the whole edge. Very frustrating.
For the filling, I made up my own concoction. Every vegetable gyoza recipe I found had mushrooms in, and although I eat most things, mushrooms are a hard pass. I wanted to try and get the same meaty texture and flavour, so I used some finely diced aubergine, mixed with crumbled tofu, and fried it with some chopped ginger and garlic, and added some soy sauce. Let me tell you, I surprised myself by how bloody delicious this was. Big pat on the back for me!
The shaping was a bit fiddly, but me and my husband had fun working together to fill them all. Some looked better than others, but honestly, for our first time making them I was really impressed. As with most of my cooking, the looks don’t bother me so much as the taste, and oh boy did these deliver.
So deeply savoury and umami, they were exactly as I’d hoped they’d be. I was so pleased that I managed to get the crispy side too, meaning every mouthful had a variety of textures. I was so happy with these that I only wish I’d made more. There’s no denying they were a faff to make, but it’s something I’d definitely do again. Maybe next time I’ll buy some pre-made wrappers though!