Gyoza are, and I can’t put too fine a point on this, a delight; little packages of pure pleasure that you can pack with whatever flavours you fancy. They originated in China but are more often associated with Japan, where they are immensely popular, and I can completely understand why.
These ravioli-like packets of goodies – meaty or fishy or veggie, or a combination, all wrapped in a silky, smooth and light dough – are a delightful amalgam of tenderness and crispiness in a single bite. Served alongside a selection of dips they make superb canapés, dangerously moreish starters, part of a buffet, or can be a main in themselves, served alongside steamed greens, stir-fried vegetables and/or rice. I certainly eat enough of them at a sitting that no one could construe that I’m having a starter.
Another wonderful thing about this recipe is that you can make up a batch of 30 or so and freeze what you don’t need before cooking ready to be heated whenever you crave them, and I guarantee you will crave them. Their delicacy and gently spiced flavours make them perfect for the spring and summer, served alongside fragrant and fresh white wines, peachy dry rosés and the kind of light juicy reds that can slip from the fridge and past your lips with SAS-like ease.
The filling I’ve used came about as an experiment using leftovers needing using which we much enjoyed, but you really can fill them with whatever you enjoy, and then tuck in. I have my eye on some shredded Peking duck, dipped into hoisin. Oh boy…
the gyoza dough:
- 300g strong white flour
- A good pinch of fine table salt
- 200ml just boiled water
- 1 tbsp cornflour, for rolling the dough
For the filling:
- 250g minced pork
- 150g raw shelled prawns
- 50g cooked shelled prawns, chopped
- 3 spring onions, finely chopped
- 1 thumb sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated or very finely chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic, grated or very finely chopped
- 1 small red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped (optional)
- 2 tbsp chives, finely chopped
- Pinch of sugar
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 100ml water
- Sesame oil for dressing
- Begin by making the gyoza dough. Sift the flour into a large bowl and mix in the salt. Add the just boiled water, bit by bit as you may not need all of it, stirring to pull the dough together.
- Once you have a dough, knead it for ten minutes or so (you can use a dough hook on a food mixer if you have one, it will do it in half the time) until it is smooth and fairly elastic. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and place it in the fridge to rest for an hour.
- Once the dough has rested take off the cling film and roll it out on a flour-dusted surface until very thin. It may be easier to divide the dough to do this.
- Take a 4” (10cm) circular pastry or biscuit cutter and cut circles of the dough. Stack them one on top of the other with a light dusting of cornflour between each one. You should get 30 to 35 discs from this, maybe more if you rolled them wafer thin!
- To make the filling put half the raw prawns in a food processor with the spring onions, ginger, garlic and the pinch of sugar. Blend until you have a paste.
- Roughly chop the cooked prawns.
- Put the minced pork in a large bowl, add the prawn paste, cooked prawns, chopped chilli, chives and black pepper and stir well to combine thoroughly. At this point I usually take a teaspoonful and fry it until it is cooked through to taste-test it for seasoning and ginger etc. You can then add more according to your taste.
- To assemble the gyoza, take a disc of dough. Put a teaspoon of the pork and prawn mixture into the centre of each gyoza. It’s best not to overfill them. Using a little water, wet around the edge of the disc with your finger and then fold over the dough and seal, making sure you expel any air pockets as you go round. If you have nimble fingers you can crimp the resulting edge but my chubsters leave me with no option but to press the joined edge with a fork to decorate and to thoroughly seal the gyoza. Repeat until you have used up all the dough and mixture, storing the gyoza on a board or platter dusted with flour. If you have any leftover mixture they make very nice little burgers, fried and eaten wrapped in lettuce leaves or as canapés. Or, of course, freeze it.
- Place a non-stick frying pan that has a lid over a moderate heat and add half the vegetable oil. Once it is hot, add as many gyoza to the pan as fits tidily without cramming. Fry for three minutes or so until the bottom is beginning to colour and then add the 100ml of water (be careful of spitting oil) and clamp the lid on the pan. Steam the gyoza for another four minutes or so and remove the lid. Now leave the pan until the water has evaporated and the gyoza have lovely bronzed and crispy bottoms. Shake the pan to loosen them, dress with a little sesame oil, and they are ready to eat.
Dips you might like:
Soy sauce solo is lovely, as are hoisin, oyster, sweet chilli and sweet and sour sauces. I love a blend of soy sauce, rice wine (or white wine) vinegar, finely chopped coriander stalks, finely chopped ginger and a pinch of sugar, mixed until the sugar dissolves, and left to allow the flavours to meld. Yum!
Instead of pork you could use minced chicken with the prawns or chicken and pork mixed with the other ingredients. Plenty of mushrooms finely chopped and mixed would be lovely, with some very finely shredded cabbage or spring greens. A seafood version with prawns and crab, or prawns and scallop are lovely too.
Don’t go too heavy pairing wines with this gyoza recipe, think rather of freshness and fragrance, the like of which is delightfully found in gently spicy The Society’s Vin d’Alsace or peachy The Society's Falanghina 2019. The crisp, aromatic Benedict Slovenian White, Dveri Pax, made at a monastery, would go down singing hymns, while the touch of sweetness underpinning the zest and fruit of The Society's Saar Riesling will be a thing of beauty, especially with the ginger and chilli. A brilliant all-rounder would be The Society's Grüner Veltliner for its fruit and twist of white pepper.
Provence rosés are perfect here, like the refreshing but full-flavoured Coteaux d'Aix en Provence Rosé, Château Vignelaure, and to run the Union Jack up the flagpole, try the bright red fruits of the Three Choirs Rosé.
Finally, for a fix of red, pick any one from the exuberant Gamay, Jacques Dépagneux, Vin de France, the juicy red-fruit of Touraine Les Guinetières, Domaine de la Renaudie or the wonderful berryish Speziale Marsigliana Nera, Santa Venere from the toe of the Italian boot.