One of my favorite books right now is Japanese Soul Cooking: Ramen, Tonkatsu, Tempura, and More from the Streets of Tokyo and Beyond by Tasdashi One and Harris Salat. Gorgeously illustrated, the book includes 100 recipes for Japanese comfort food that is deeply flavorful and relatively simple to make. This is Japanese home cooking, the kind of food you want to feed your people. To quote Matt Gross, editor at BonAppetite.com “this book is a joyful and useful exploration of the earthy, fatty, meaty, rib-sicking, lip-smacking fare–the noodles and curries and deep-friend delights that millions of Japanese depend on everyday.” And much of it is good to make in big batches. Our favorite recipes thus far: The Hamburg which is a Japanese style hamburger and the Osaka-Style Okonomayaki which is a pancake griddled with cabbage and pork. I also love the recipe for Battleship Curry which is said to be served every Friday on the Japanese Naval patrol (Navy cooks are famously creative). When I asked the Harris for his favorite dish for big groups he said his go-to dish was gyozas, or japan’s signature dumplings.
“In 2010 I was a stagier at a 400 year old restaurant in Kyoto, a super traditional, historic place that serves kaiseki (the highest expression of Japanese cuisine). When the chef found out I was nuts about gyoza, all the cooks and I gathered in the old kitchen and folded a mountain of them for staff meal. It was fun to eat gyoza in that hallowed place.” Japanese Soul Food Cooking has an extensive section on how to make gyozas and they are especially fun to make WITH your crowd, says Harris “making gyoza together is a blast for grownups, kids, and big groups.”
CLASSIC PORK GYOZA Master Recipe
Here now, the Way of the Gyoza. Refer to the series of photographs, “How to Fold and Cook Gyoza” see below, as you go through this recipe. Once you fold a few thousand gyoza, you’ll get the hang of the technique—we’re kidding. Folding gyoza is pretty easy and you’ll understand it quickly, but remember, it doesn’t have to be perfect. Even if you just pinch the gyoza skins together and dispense with folding the skins like we do in the photos, your dumplings will turn out heavenly. Keep in mind a few things: Chop everything with a knife and do not use a food processor, which will turn the ingredients into mush, not the texture you want. You can use green, savoy, or napa cabbage (green is the default choice). Buy Japanese gyoza skins at Japanese markets; they are round in shape and thinner than their Chinese counterparts (and usually sold frozen; defrost on the counter to room temperature to use). When you cook them, the gyoza might stick together, and that’s totally fine. But you can avoid this by separating the dumplings by about 1/8 inch when laying them in the pan. What you’re looking for in the finished product is beautiful crispy brown bottoms and tenderly steamed tops. See our photos and you’ll know what we mean. Finally, besides the classic dipping sauce we explain in the recipe, these gyoza are also amazing with miso dipping sauce.
Makes about 50 gyoza
3 cups trimmed and finely chopped green cabbage (about 8 ounces)
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1 1⁄2 cups nira (Japanese green garlic chives), bottom 2 inches trimmed to remove the hard stem, and finely chopped (about 1⁄3 pound)
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic (about 2 cloves)
1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger (about 1 ounce ginger, peeled)
2⁄3 pound ground pork
2 teaspoons soy sauce
4 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1⁄2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons katakuriko (potato starch), plus extra for dusting
50 round gyoza skins, 3 to 4 inches in diameter
1 tablespoon katakuriko (potato starch) mixed with 3 tablespoons warm water
Japanese rice vinegar
Rayu (page 35)
2⁄3 cup water
To prepare the filling, add the cabbage and salt to a large bowl and thoroughly mix together. Let the cabbage sit at room temperature for 15 minutes. When it’s ready, transfer the cabbage to a clean kitchen towel or large cheesecloth. Roll up the cloth and wring out the liquid in the cabbage, like you’re wringing dry a wet towel. This is a key step so the gyoza doesn’t become watery. Wring out as much liquid from the cabbage as possible. Do this in batches if it’s easier.
Add the wrung-out cabbage, nira, garlic, ginger, pork, soy sauce, 2 tablespoons of the sesame oil, black pepper, salt, sugar, and katakuriko to a large bowl. Use your hands to mix the ingredients together for about 2 minutes. Mash and mush the mixture together, squeezing it through your fingers, so it turns into a sticky filling that will hold together when you spoon it into a dumpling skin.
To make the dumplings, prepare a tray by lightly dusting it with katakuriko. Place a gyoza skin in the palm of one hand with the floured side down. (The skins are sold with one side floured.) Dip a finger in the katakuriko mixed with warm water and wet the entire edge of the skin. This water-starch mixture is the “glue” that will hold the skin closed. Add about 1 tablespoon of the filling to the center of the skin. Use the index fingers and thumbs of both hands to fold the skin and pinch it together. See “How to Fold and Cook Gyoza” (page 32) for step-by-step instructions with photographs. Place the completed gyoza on the tray, fold side up. Repeat until you’ve used up all the filling.
To prepare the dipping sauce, combine the soy sauce, vinegar, and rayu. A classic proportion is 4 parts soy sauce to 2 parts vinegar to 1 part rayu. Adjust to your own taste. Pour the dipping sauce into individual small bowls and set aside.
Photos and recipe from Japanese Soul Cooking: Ramen, Tonkatsu, Tempura, and More from the Streets of Tokyo and Beyond by Tasdashi One and Harris Salat/ Ten Speed Press 2013.