gyoza/jiaozi, vintage rabcooks

steamed or fried or a bit of both ☺️☺️

Making these wee parcels of loveliness is my favourite way to pass an afternoon. There’s something so comforting about it, so cosy.

 

I love making the filling with all those lovely aromatic ingredients, mixing the flavours so that they’re just right. I love spending time elegantly pleating each one so that they’re all perfect. And most of all I love the look on my friends’ and family members’ faces when I present them with baskets of beautiful dumplings, bursting with steam and concealing a mysterious filling.

 

There was a blissful time in my life when I was making a batch of 50 every week to keep up with demand from those close to me (I’m not complaining, I enjoyed every moment of it). They’re one of my first ever signature dishes, truly a vintage rabcooks dish if ever there was one. (see end of recipe for vintage rabcooks gyoza gallery haha)

Truthfully they’re pretty easy once you’ve got the technique down. And I wouldn’t even bother making the pastry yourself: gyoza pastry is super thin, without a pasta machine I’m not sure you could get it to be so…refined. And gyoza are nothing if not refined. Jiaozi pastry tends to be marginally thicker, but if you’re a busy gal then I still wouldn’t put yourself under the added strain, just go to the frozen section of the Chinese supermarket.

 

And while I’ve got my classic recipe here, if you wanna try some variations then that’s the beauty of dumplings, go for it! If you want to try a vegan alternative, try finely chopping some shiitake mushrooms and aubergine to make a mincey texture (I’d add a wee bit more potato starch in this case). Or I recently tried adding the spicy fermented bean paste you use for mapo tofu into the mix, whilst leaving out the sugar, dark soy and shaoxing, and serving with chili oil to dip. But I’d love to hear what you guys like to put in your dumplings!

 

In terms of cooking technique, you can do what you like! Steaming for 15 minutes (or 25 from frozen) or deep frying can be a good shout, but my favourite is the yaki-gyoza method described below (half steamed and half fried). If using jiaozi pastry, you could also try boiling them (try adding them to the saucepan while making instant ramen!

BONUS: I make these in batches of 50, so I usually have enough to freeze for a quick weeknight meal or emergency side-dish. So freeze them laid out on a plate or platter not touching for 1 hr, and afterwards you can pack them tightly into tupperware and freeze them. Just remember to cook them from frozen or defrost them laid out not touching or they’ll stick together.

 

ingredients

50 gyoza skins/jiaozi wrappers

500g pork mince

5 large cabbage leaves (I’ve used savoy, sweetheart, white – they’re all fine! One time I even used cauliflower leaves haha)

1/2 brown onion

4 spring onions

2cm piece of ginger

4 cloves garlic

2 tbsp potato starch

1 tbsp shaoxing rice wine

2 tbsp light soy sauce (as in light colour, not low salt)

1tbsp oyster sauce

2 tsp sesame oil (plus extra for frying)

2 tsp soft brown sugar

1/2 tsp white pepper

method

1. In a large mixing bowl add the meat, starch, wine, soy sauce, oyster sauce,  sesame oil, sugar and pepper. Mix well – I find the best method is just to get stuck in with your hands and squish it through your fingers. Let it marinate in the fridge for an hour or longer.

2. Finely chop the cabbage, both onions, ginger and garlic and mix it thoroughly into the meat.

3. Make the gyoza! With a wet finger, trace a one about 1/2cm wide around the edge of 1/2 a gyoza skin (i.e. draw a semi-circle). Place about 1 tsp of filling in the middle, and flatten it down with the back of a spoon. Crimp the gyoza by raising a hoop of gyoza skin with one thumb and pressing it down with the other. It takes practice so just keep at it!

Here’s me making them, or alternatively have a look on YouTube for tutorials:

3. Drizzle sesame oil into a flat bottomed frying pan, just enough that you have to swirl it to fully coat the pan. When it’s hot, add the gyoza flat side down and cook on medium heat for 2 minutes. Pour a couple of tbsps of water over the gyoza and quickly put a lid on the pan. When the water has completely evaporated, remove the lid. Check to see if the base is golden brown, if not keep cooking a wee bit longer. Serve brown side up!

4. You can serve with anything you like, but I make a dipping sauce of 2 parts black vinegar (weirdly, Worcestershire sauce is a decent substitute haha), 1 part light soy sauce and a few squirts of sriracha.

These are the kind of side dish that turn a meal into a 10. I’ve had so much fun serving these dumplings to my friends over the years, and it shows in some photos which are not very æsthetikally pleasing but evoke warm memories of entertaining in all my pokey student flats haha.

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