Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Japanese Culinary Center Puts the Smackdown on Gyoza

Gyoza are spherically shaped, meat-filled dumplings that originated in China. And they're delicious. I went to the Japanese Culinary Center for their Gyoza Smackdown, a class co-sponsored by the American Institute of Food and Wine. I've been to two previous classes at the JCC: Onigiri and Curry Rice. Both were excellent, so I was looking forward to this event.

The little yummy snacks are surprisingly easy to make. Well, I'll admit that the JCC had the fillings ready to go, so the sold-out class didn't have to endure the rigors of that preparation. 

Gyoza skins and fillings

We made three different types of gyoza:
  • Traditional: Ground pork, chives, napa cabbage, and spices
  • Modern: Shrimp (coarsely chopped), eryngi mushrooms, shiso leaves, soy sauce
  • Fusion: Ground chicken, bean sprouts, and curry powder
George Kao shows the class how to add the filling

The man who led us through this culinary exploration was George Kao, the sake educator for the New York Mutual Trading Company, which opened the Japanese Culinary Center two years ago.

The two components of gyoza are the skin and the filling. The skin below is thin and more suitable for boiling. Skin that works better when pan frying is darker and thicker.

Gyoza skin

Amazing pork filling

For the traditional style of gyoza, Kao mixed ground pork with chives and napa cabbage. Since napa retains a lot of water – which would render the gyoza mushy – Kao advises to rinse the cabbage, sprinkle salt on it while draining, and wring it with a towel.

Tasty shrimp filling with eryngi mushrooms and shiso leaves

After showing us how to fill and pinch the gyoza skin, we students were left to our own devices. 

My neighbor's gyoza

Gyoza students

My gyoza are ready to cook!

For the first round, I made two of each kind of filling – one to boil and one to pan fry. There are seven total on my plate because I had too much shrimp filling in one of them and decided to make two.

Boiling my gyoza

Kao dropped my gyoza into a pot of plain, boiling water for about three minutes.

Boiled gyoza

My boiled gyoza look amazing! The texture of the skin once its boiled reminded me of shumai.

Pan frying

Just a little oil and water in the pan is all you need. After covering the pan with aluminum foil, the gyoza sat in the pan for a few minutes, until the bottom of the skin turned brown and the water had an almost crunchy consistency. No flipping of the gyoza is necessary.

Pan fried and boiled - yum!

I'll be honest. When I first read that curry chicken was part of the program, I didn't think I'd like it. I like curry rice and other dishes containing curry, but in gyoza?! I was pleasantly surprised by the flavor. That said, nothing beats the traditional, pan-fried version. I was pleased with all of them, but if I had to choose a favorite, pork filling and pan fried would be my choice.

Dipping sauces

The staff gave us three kinds of dipping sauces. I prefer the one in the middle – tare sauce – that consists of soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sesame oil. The one on the left is sweet; the one on the right is hot. They were good, but the tare was the best.

Enjoying the fruits of our labor

Cookin' up gyoza



Erin D said...

This is pretty awesome! I would love to do a class like this! Of course here in Taipei, it's just easier to run to the night market and grab some for $1! :-) Love how yours came out...I'd be interested in trying the curry version -- sounds unique.

shrinecastle said...

Thanks for your comment, Erin! Yeah, I'm sure your area is filled with all kinds of culinary options! The gyoza we made tonight were quite scrumptious, and the curry chicken was surprisingly tasty.