Since we don't go out for Japanese all the time but do want to eat these more often, we decided to try our hands at making these at home. It's a decent chunk of time, but not really all that difficult. We also cheated just a little bit and bought the wrappers from our local Japanese food store (Uwajimaya for those of you in the Northwest), which saves quite a bit of the hard part.
First you have to make the filling. There are plenty of recipes out on the net, but the one we chose combines ground pork, shredded cabbage, ginger, garlic, pepper, salt, soy sauce, sake, sesame oil, and chopped nira. (There are tons of recipes out there to make all sorts of flavors, but the garlic and pepper to this one was our own interpretation.) You mix all of that together in a bowl and let it marinate, preferably overnight.
I'm sure most people have no idea what nira is, and that's because you won't find it in your grocery store (probably). If you can't, a substitution of scallions will work. So what is it? It's a relative of a chive and translates roughly as garlic chive. Here's what the bunch we bought looks like:
We took some of the leftovers and added it to some turkey stock we made and it adds a nice punch of extra flavor.
After the overnight marination, we laid out wrappers on a flat surface. Then we whisked up an egg and wiped the mixture around the edges of the wrappers, so it would stick together nicely when closed. Into the middle of each wrapper goes roughly a tablespoon of the meat mixture.
Then fold the wrapper over so it looks like a half moon, sealing and pinching the edges together. We added pinch-ridges (for the lack of a better term) in four or five spots around the sealed edge. These pinches, I believe, help hold the wrapper together when it heats in the frying pan.
After quite a bit of manual labor, you get a pan full of uncooked gyoza. We made two batches and in neither one did we get nearly as many as we were supposed to, so I guess we did more than a tablespoon. Whoops.
Now it's time for frying. We poured some sesame oil in the electric skillet, heated it, and then placed the gyoza in the pan to cook for two minutes. Then you add half a cup of water and cover them, cooking for another five minutes.
After the five minutes, remove the cover and let them cook until all the water is evaporated. At this point we flipped them over.
Most recipes don't call for turning the gyoza over and frying both sides, but we did it anyway for half of them because we like the crunch.
And then, when all is done, you have a plateful of tasty looking morsels!
The gyoza can be frozen either cooked or uncooked. We did it uncooked so we can have the nice, fresh crunch when we get them out.
I like eating them just as is after frying, but traditionally they are dipped in a sauce made up of soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil and optionally crushed chile pepper or dry mustard if you want a kick.
Super tasty, fairly easy, a little time consuming...but you will absolutely impress your friends!