Chinese dumplings, otherwise known as gyoza. You may have had some of these guys at a chinese food restaurant or from a box found in the feezer section, but here is the real deal people. I was introduced to these when my speed skating coach invited our team over for dinner. You know that I am well versed in the perogy which is basically a potato dumpling, but I had not had my fair share of gyoza up to that point. I must admit that we were very spoiled at this dinner. Not only did we not have to cook that night (athletes are always tired!), but the gyoza were made by my coaches parents who were in the city direct from China.
If you could have see the amount of gyoza on the table, you jaw would have dropped. Hundreds. And since we were athletes, hundreds of gyoza were consumed that night. Spectacular! Since that evening, my coach X invited us over many more times. She was surprised at how much we westerners like traditional Chinese food. This was not ginger beef or Westernized food, this was the real deal. But this is a story for another time. Let’s not get off topic. We are seriouly talking gyoza, here.
Last summer, before the Olympics, my team was privy to a very cool opportunity. We were going to live in Vancouver alternating every 2 weeks with Calgary. I have lived in 3 places in my life: Ituna (pop 700), Melville (pop 5000) and Calgary (pop too many). I had never even been to Vancouver. Trust me, I have heard endless ravings about how great Vancouver was, so naturally I was adverse in the beginning. Too much hype. I was turned off.
So, resentment and all, I boarded the plane every 2 weeks to train at the new Olympic oval in Richmond, a suburb of Vancouver. In the beginning, it was essential to find the requisite coffee spot (Blendz won! – yummy Maple Machiatos), the grocery store (SaveOn Foods) and a sushi spot. Those we all found and I was starting to feel more accumstomed to spending weeks at a time there. I had a bike to explore and the Sky Train was just up and running, so we got to see more of Central Vancounver (Japadog anyone?). To make a long story short, there were 2 things that won me over. Beach and freshly made gyoza paste.
The beach thing is self-explanatory ie. I love water. I even love beaches that are nudist and have amazing sunsets… But what we are talking ’bout here is gyoza paste. I call it “paste” because that is what X calls it. It is those rounds of dough that you use to make gyoza. Well, in Richmond, you could find this at any hole-in-the-wall chinese shop. Amazing!
X got a few of us girls over to her place one night and showed us the secrets to making gyoza. Soon it was a tradition. I felt so special. Thanks X! Mr. F also felt very special because now he gets to eat these when I make them at home. Over here in the Netherlands, I can only find frozen paste, but I can always dream of the days when I could find freshly made gyoza paste on any block in Richmond and standing over a steaming pot of gyoza with my friend/coach. Or, like X says, just make the paste yourself. Hmmm, I am working on it….
Gyoza – From my skating coach X (ie. the Wang, the leader of the Wang Dynasty, etc)
I lb ground pork
3 green onions, diced
1-2 inches fresh ginger, minced
1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
slpash of soya sauce
splash of oil
dumpling spice or vegetable stock powder
1-2 (about 75-100) packages round dumpling wraps/paste
equal parts of – soya sauce, stirfry suace, rice vinegar, and a few drops (or more!) or sriracha hot sauce
The key to this here recipe is getting the meat moist. Ground meat is quite dry actually, when you take a look at it. Start by adding about 1/4 cup water to the meat and stirring with 2 chopsticks. Seriously, use the chopsticks, it is easier, trust me and the Wang. Depending on how dry the meat is you may need to add some more water. Here is a picture of before and after. In the first picture, the meat is crumbly, in the second one, it is smooth and moist. Go for what the second picture looks like.
Add the rest of the ingredients and stir – with the chopsticks of course! The tricky part is the spice. I didn’t give a measurment because the Wang did not give one. She made us smell it. If it smells like raw meat, then there is not enough seasoning ie. salt and spices. If you can smell the spices, then you are good to go. There is a picture of the spices that X gave me, but if you can’t find that, I have substituted it with veg stock powder and it was a close second.
To pinch the gyoza, take a paste in one hand. Have a small bowl of water handy. Dip your finger in the water and trace around the outside of the paste. Put a blob (about 1 tbsp) of mixture in the middle, fold over and pinch the edges together- hard. Set on a plate or tray and make sure they do not touch.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Drop in about 20 dumplings at a time depending on how big your pot is. When the water comes back up to a boil, add a couple ladles of cold water to reduce the boil. Do this 2 times so that the gyoza comes up to a boil 3 times. Special tip from, you guessed it, the Wang. When finished the dumplings should be puffy and floating. Remove from water with a slotted spoon and repeat until all gyoza and done. Serve these babies family -style and enjoy with the dipping sauce!