Learn how to make your own delicious Japanese pork gyoza from scratch! These addictive dumplings are filled with seasoned ground pork and vegetables then wrapped in a thin dough. I've got a few secret tips for frying them to crispy perfection too!
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Gyoza (餃子) are dumplings most commonly filled with meat, vegetables and seasonings which are then wrapped in a thin dough. Although they are eaten all across Japan, the dish originates from China and are originally called "Jiaozi".
In English they are commonly known as dumplings or pot stickers.
Gyoza are pretty versatile and can be cooked in a number of different ways.
- Deep frying
- Pan frying
Most Japanese people fry them in a pan and then add a lid so they steam for a while. That way, they become crispy on the bottom and soft on the top, delicious!
A Brief History of Gyoza
The very first emergence of gyoza dumplings in Japan is obscure, yet one theory says that they came in from China around the 18th century.
Despite its early existence, only the higher class had access to the dish for a long time. Gyoza actually didn't become a common dish with regular working class people until after World War 2.
While steamed dumplings are a lot more popular and common in China, Japanese Gyoza is usually fried in a pan.
So this is another case that Chinese food came in to Japan then Japanese people found their own way to cook it.
Regional Variations of Gyoza
Gyoza is now a very common family dish all around Japan, and even different regions of Japan have their twists and their own versions of it. Such as:
- Enban gyoza (円盤餃子) : Fukushima Pref
- Utsunomiya gyoza (宇都宮餃子) : Tochigi Pref
- Hamamatsu gyoza (浜松餃子) : Shizuoka Pref
- Jumbo gyoza (ジャンボ餃子) : Hyogo Pref
- Yahata gyoza (八幡餃子) : Fukuoka Pref
Who's up for a gyoza tasting tour of Japan?!
As I said before, gyoza are pretty versatile and you can make them how you like! So here are some popular fillings.
Although it's uncommon for Japanese people to make gyoza wrappers from scratch at home (pre-made wrapper is more convenient and popular), you can't beat the taste and texture of your own homemade gyoza wrappers!
10 Tips and tricks to make an amazing pan-fried gyoza at home
Making gyoza has always been a fun activity for Japanese households, kids can get involved and help with shaping. The important thing is to avoid failure as much as possible so that the activity stays fun!
From shaping to frying, here are a few tips and tricks to avoid failures when making gyoza!
Mix the meat and vegs as quick as you can
The trick is to knead/mix the meat and vegs quickly yet thoroughly. If this process takes too long, the temperature of the filling will rise and it will lose its stickiness and juiciness.
In the worst case, the texture will be too smooth and like meatball in the end, so prevent this by avoiding overmixing.
Rest the paste in fridge for 30 minutes
Let the paste sit in the refrigerator for 30 minutes after mixing.
The flavour of the meat will be transferred to the vegetables, and the taste will be unified. Chilling also helps to firm up the fat, making it easier to wrap later.
Don't overfill and seal properly
If you put too much filling in a wrapper, the wrapper could tear or not close properly.
It is better to wrap it with enough room so that the filling isn't bursting out or the juice will escape during cooking process.
I should also mention, it's important to make sure that the wrappers are firmly sealed around the edge and that there are no gaps or rips.
Be generous with cooking oil
For a perfect crispy base and golden colour on the base of your gyoza, be sure to spread the oil evenly throughout the pan.
The generous amount of oil also ensures that the wrapper does not tear when you remove it from the pan to serve and that the dumplings stay crispy and juicy.
Don't overcrowd the gyoza in a pan
There should only be one layer of gyoza in the pan, don't try piling them up otherwise the ones on top won't have a crispy base.
Finally, placing the gyoza too close together will cause the skins to stick together and rip if you try and pull them apart. Try and leave a little space between each gyoza to avoid tearing the wrappers.
Steam them with boiling water or slurry
Adding cold water will lower the temperature and can make the wrappers a bit sticky.
By using boiling water, it will give them nice and crispy texture! The rough amount of boiling water is about 80ml per 10 pieces or just enough hot water to cover the base of the pan with about 1-2mm.
Also, to make the bottom extra crispy (we call it hane), I always mix water with a small amount of flour to make a thin slurry. Just be careful not to add too much flour or it will become gummy.
Rock the frying pan from time to time
During the steaming process, gently rock the pan back and forth from time to time and reposition it on the stove. This will prevent your gyoza from burning.
Crackling sound means removing the lid
The timing of removing the lid is important.
When you start hearing a crackling sound, you can remove the lid and allow the liquid to evaporate.
Drizzle sesame oil at the end for finishing touch
Once you're happy with the cooking process, drizzle small amount of sesame oil and cook another 30 seconds for extra crispiness.
I personally recommend sesame oil for the delicious nutty smell and flavour.
Don't let them too moist
Too much moisture in the gyoza filling can cause the dumplings to stick together or the skin to break.
If you think about freezing them, it's good to reduce the amount of vegetables or use thicker wrappers to prevent excess liquid from seeping through.
My recipes uses less vegetables than other recipes to optimise this situation as well. But if you follow other recipes that use a lot of watery vegetables like cabbage, you can add small amount of starch to the filling make the liquid more stable and less likely to leak out.
Avoid gyoza sticking together
When making the gyoza, dust your plates/containers with flour or starch to prevent the dumplings from sticking.
It is also useful to freeze the dumplings using items with aluminium foil. The quicker you freeze the dumplings, the less likely they are to lose their flavour and stick together.
How to freeze gyoza to store
Unless you have a big family, we tend to make too many gyoza dumplings. While you can store in the fridge for a day (although there is always a risk of dumplings being soggy), I recommend keeping them in the freezer.
If you freeze them, they will keep for longer (up to a few weeks).
Here are some tips when you want to freeze them. There are 3 stages where you can freeze gyoza:
- The filling
- Before frying
- After frying
I will explain each below.
Freezing the filling
If you decide to freeze the filling, you will need to divide it into individual portions for each gyoza. This can be quite time consuming, you will also need to store them on a tray and not touching (otherwise they'll stick together) which takes up a lot of freezer space.
Once frozen, you can transfer them to a zip lock bag to free up space in your freezer, but all these steps are quite a lot of hassle.
I only recommend this if you run out of wrappers and want to save the filling for next time. Try and use the filling in 2 months for the best results.
Before frying (wrapped)
Once you've shaped your gyoza, you can store them in the freezer for about 1-2 months.
There are two ways to do this. First, you can place them in layers in an airtight, freezer-safe container and sprinkle them with flour or starch to prevent them from sticking together. I also put a sheet of baking paper between each layer, this is also to stop them to sticking together.
The other option is to arrange them on a tray and freeze them. Once fully frozen, transfer to a ziplock bag to save freezer space.
Whichever way you choose, it's always important to arrange the dumplings so that they do not overlap.
Freezing wrapped gyoza is very convenient and you can cook small batches for a quick and easy meal or side! You don't need to defrost them, just cook them in the pan for a few extra minutes.
If you have leftover gyoza after cooking, you can divide them into portions, wrap them in plastic wrap and place in an airtight container before freezing.
However, I should mention that the flavour will deteriorate when you freeze the dumplings after being cooked, so it is best to freeze them before cooking ideally.
If you do freeze them after cooking, you can microwave them and then put under grill or simply fry them again in a frying pan. Again, there's no need to defrost. Defrosting gyoza makes them soggy.
It's basically a dumpling filled with meat and vegetables, in Japan it's usually pan fried.
Gyoza originate from China, Japan has many foods that are Chinese with a Japanese twist. The word "gyoza" (餃子) is Japanese though.
Gyoza is usually filled with seasoned meat and/or vegetables. It's can also be filled with tofu or seafood too, gyoza are very versatile! The wrapper is simply made from flour, salt and water.
Gyoza in Japan are mostly pan-fried but there's a type of gyoza that goes in to soup called Sui-gyoza (水餃子) which means "water gyoza".
Lots of people in Japan like to enjoy a plate of gyoza with a bowl of ramen. Gyoza usually comes with a dipping sauce too, I've included my favourite dipping sauce in the recipe.
They're better hot for sure, but some people eat them cold in a bento box.