I’m always looking for recipes that I can make on our induction stove in our campervan to add variety to our usual camping foods. Gyoza, Japanese-style potstickers, cook up wonderfully on a cast iron pan on the induction stove and although it’s definitely not your typical camping fare, my family loves them. Gyoza does take a little prep, however, but the results are so worth it. I think forming the potstickers is the most time-consuming part, but it’s also my favorite because I enlist my family to help. This is when we sit around the table putting the filling inside the wrappers and folding up the edges, all while sharing about this, that and the other (especially the other!). We laugh at each other’s unique folding jobs (it’s easy to tell who folded what), but when all is done and cooked up, they all taste the same… delicious!
I’ve been eating and making gyoza for as long as I remember and it is one of my all time favorite foods. Gyoza has a ginger and garlic flavored meat and cabbage filling wrapped inside wonton wrappers that is pan fried to have a crisp exterior on one side and a soft pasta like texture on the other. The gyoza is best eaten when they are freshly cooked and still piping hot, dipped in a soy-vinegar sauce. I usually make the gyoza ahead of time and cook them in batches so we eat them when they are HOT. Thankfully, we talked while forming the gyoza because when we first start eating gyoza there is utter silence except for the sound of our breaths releasing the steam from our mouths trying to cool down the gyoza in our mouths! This might not be the best first date food. The combination of beer and gyoza is a pairing that is one that was truly meant to be, so don’t forget your cold beverage to help cool things down.
I freeze any leftover gyoza by putting them in single layers on paper plates being careful not to overcrowd them or else they will all stick together when thawed. The plate of gyoza is then securely covered with aluminum foil, put inside a ziploc bag, then tucked away in the freezer. This is what I grab before we head out in our campervan. When it’s time to cook the gyoza, I set up a cooking area outside of the van because the aroma, while whets our appetite when we are about to eat, is something we don’t want hanging around in our living space when we are ready to sleep.
Finding the gyoza recipe from Serious Eats was a game changer where I learned that the liquid from the cabbage could be wringed out. The addition of tofu is something my mom taught me that softens and lightens up the filling. Adding tofu is important when adding lean meats to loosen up the filling and prevent it from getting dense. When we had gyoza on our trip to Japan last month, it was interesting to see all the different types of fillings that were put inside the wrappers, some I hadn’t even thought of like cheese or mochi. So, I guess it’s alright to be creative with our fillings… I think.
At home I cook the gyoza on a nonstick skillet (gas stove) which gets them crispy, and I don’t have to worry about them sticking to the pan. When I cook them on a cast iron skillet, I have to make sure the pan is greased well each time before I add the gyoza. Sometimes, the gyoza need a little help unsticking from the pan, but still easy to do.
- 1/2 head of cabbage
- 2 teaspoon salt (for prepping cabbage)
- 1 lb of ground angus beef (can use 1/2 ground beef and 1/2 ground pork or ground turkey, in any combination to add up to 1 lb)
- 3 stalks of green onions, chopped finely
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp minced ginger
- 2 tsps sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 container of soft tofu
- canola oil for cooking
- Mince cabbage (use food processer). Stir in 2 tsp salt and let the cabbage sit in a strainer for 15 minutes.
- Transfer cabbage to middle of a thin towel and gather the edges. Wring out as much water as possible.
- Mix with your hands the rest of the ingredients (ground protein, green onions, garlic, ginger, sugar, salt and tofu) together with the cabbage.
- Lay out wrappers and add a small dollop about (1 tsp) of filling to the middle of each wrapper.
- Wet your finger with water (have a small water bowl to dip your fingers in) and then use your finger to wet the edges of the wrapper.
- Fold the wrapper in half, sealing the filling inside (the water acts as a glue).
- Press the edges firmly and make pleats (about 3-4). See figure below to see what a “pleat” in a gyoza looks like.
- Coat the bottom of a pan (even when using a non-stick pan because the oil helps make it crispy) with canola oil, and preheat pan on medium heat. Use your judgement for the oil, cast iron pans require more oil (than non-stick pans). Coat enough to cover the pan and prevent sticking of the gyoza.
- Add gyoza in single layer to pan.
- Cook gyoza for 2-3 minutes and get the bottom brown and crispy.
- Add 1/4 cup water and immediately cover. Let steam for 3 min.
- Increase temperature to medium high and remove lid. Cook for another 2 min, loosening gyoza off of pan.
- Flip the gyoza over onto a serving plate, crispy side up, and serve hot with dipping sauce of soy sauce, vinegar and rayu (chili pepper oil found in Japanese markets).
Preparing the gyoza filling:
Forming the gyoza:
Cooking the gyoza:
Gyoza directions with pictures:
Preparing gyoza filling:
Mince cabbage (use food processer). Stir in 2 tsp salt. Let sit in strainer for 15 minutes. Transfer cabbage to middle of towel and gather the edges and wring out as much water as possible. Mix all ingredients together with hands. I’ve had success with all the different combinations of ground meats (sometimes it just depends on what’s in the fridge/freezer). The combination of beef and pork adds richness, while the beef and turkey combination works well if you want a milder meat flavor.
Forming the gyoza:
Lay out wrappers on large surface, add a small dollop (about 1 tsp) of filling to the middle of each wrapper. With your finger, wet the edges of the wonton. Fold the wrapper in half sealing the filling inside. The water acts as a glue. Press the edges firmly and make pleats (about 3-4).
Cooking the gyoza:
Coat the bottom of a pan with canola oil, preheat pan on medium heat. Add gyoza in single layer to pan. Get bottom brown and crispy (2-3 minutes). Add 1/4 cup water and immediately cover. Let steam for 3 min. Increase temperature to medium high and remove lid. Cook for another 2 min, loosening gyoza off of pan. The times will have to be increased when cooking frozen gyoza. Check by eye to make sure that the bottoms got brown and steam them for an extra minute or so before you take the lid off.
Flip the gyoza over onto a serving plate, crispy side up, and serve hot with dipping sauce of soy sauce, vinegar and rayu (chili pepper oil found in Japanese markets).
Wherever you serve your gyoza, indoors or outdoors, they are delicious and healthy, and easy to cook up. I just make the dipping sauce according to taste, which is mostly made of soy sauce, a splash of Japanese sushi rice vinegar (sweeter than regular rice vinegar) and a few drops of rayu in a dipping bowl. If you want a recipe for the dipping sauce, Serious Eats includes one with their gyoza recipe. Remember to have fun making the gyoza (getting people to help is key), and eat them while they’re so hot that you have to blow air out of your mouth to prevent the gyoza from burning you (don’t forget the beer). Enjoy!