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Bento Recipes: Gyoza

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Japanese half ravioliGyoza are also known as pot stickers. They're basically meat and veg in a noodly wrapper. They can be cooked in several ways.

What you need:

1/3 cup finely chopped cabbage
2 tbsp chopped green onion
1/2 pound ground pork, beef, or shrimp
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp sugar
2 tsps soy sauce
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp grated fresh ginger

20 gyoza wrappers
Vegetable oil for frying (optional)

Way 1:

Brown the meat if it is not cooked, then drain. Boil or fry the cabbage. (I recommend frying it in a tiny bit of olive oil. It's crisper, and boiled cabbage is so soggy.)

Dump all the ingredients besides the wrappers and frying oil in a bowl and mix well. Place a teaspoonful of filling in a wrapper. Don't put too much in or it will be hard to seal. Wet a finger and run it along the wrapper around the filling, then fold it in half and press the edges together to seal them. (If you are using gyoza wrappers you'll make semicircles; if you are using won ton wrappers they will be triangles. Real gyoza are also folded kinda fancy along the edges, but I was lazy and skipped that part.)

If you'll be frying, heat some oil in a frying pan, just enough to coat the bottom of the pan. Fry the gyoza for a minute or so, just enough to make the bottom bubbly and crunchy like an egg roll wrapper. Then put the gyoza - plural - in a steamer and steam them for 5-7 minutes on low heat.

Way 2:

Stir-fry the cabbage until it starts to soften in a bit of vegetable or stir-fry oil. Let it cool, then mix it in a bowl with everything else but the meat and frying oil.  Mix it well, so all the various ingredients are evenly distributed. Fill the wrappers as described above. Heat some oil to medium high in a deep frying pan, just enough to coat the bottom of the pan. Fry the gyoza for two minutes or thereabouts, so the bottom is well browned. Now dump in three tablespoons of hot water, close the lid, and let the gyoza steam the rest of the way. Take them out when the water has boiled off.

Way 3:

Combine the first two ways, maybe making the filling the first way and frying it the second. Or skip the frying part and put the gyoza right in the steamer.

These can be eaten by themselves or with dipping sauce. I like to use Kikkoman tempura sauce.

This recipe may make more gyoza than you actually want to cook at one time. If so, you can freeze the uncooked gyoza, then cook them when the spirit moves you. I recommend laying them out on a plate, making sure they aren't touching each other to prevent them from sticking together, and when they're frozen putting them in Ziploc bags.

Variations: You can fill gyoza wrappers with pretty much what you want. For example, I've used a meatloaf-like mix of lean beef, grated vegetables, chopped onion, and egg to bind it together, and it came out really nicely. Especially when dunked in ketchup.

Also, what if you run out of wrappers before you run out of filling? Ball the filling into meatballs and fry them over medium heat to make "naked gyoza."