Gyoza Delights: Exploring the World of Japanese Dumplings – Bokksu Market

Gyoza Delights: Exploring the World of Japanese Dumplings

by Bokksu Staff

Enjoy juicy goodness wrapped in crispy dough by making your first batch of tasty gyoza. You can fill these Japanese dumplings with any combination of ingredients you want. All you need to do is follow our in-depth gyoza guide, where we explore its key components, types, significance, and how to make it from scratch. We’ll also throw in some fantastic pairing and shopping suggestions to help you get the most out of your meal. Let’s get started!

What is Gyoza?

Plate of gyoza

Gyoza is a type of Japanese dumpling consisting of small pieces of meat and vegetables wrapped in dough. The dish is also called Japanese potstickers.

A typical gyoza filling consists of ground meat, cabbage, pork, sesame oil, soy sauce, mushrooms, nira (Japanese garlic chives), and green onions. The combination of several ingredients gives gyoza its complex, mixed, and rich flavor that can be both savory and satisfying.

The juicy gyoza filling is encased in a chewy wrapper with a crispy bottom. This texture is possible because of the preparation method, which typically involves pan-frying the dough-covered dumpling before steaming it with some water.

Although you can eat gyoza as a stand-alone meal, people often use it as a side dish or appetizer. It’s typically served along with savory dipping sauce, and you can use chopsticks to eat it.

Although gyoza is a traditional dish in Japan, its origins are rooted in Chinese cuisine. It is Japan’s version of jiaozi, the most famous Chinese dumpling. After World War II ended in 1945, some of the Japanese soldiers who returned from China shared recipes for the dumplings they enjoyed during their time overseas. Many restaurants and food shops in Japan began to make their own versions of jiaozi, and gyoza was born.

Differences Between Gyoza and Jiaozi

The biggest difference between the two dumplings is that gyoza uses more garlic than jiaozi. It is also smaller in size and has a thinner wrapper. In terms of fillings, while ground pork is common in gyoza, jiaozi tends to have a more diverse range of meats, including ground pork, chicken, fish, lamb, shrimp, and beef.

The Different Types of Gyoza You Can Enjoy

Pot-boiled gyoza

Gyoza is one of the most versatile dishes in Japanese cuisine. Feel free to try one of the various types, which can be categorized based on their cooking method or type of filling. Check out the different types below:

Types of Gyoza Based on Cooking Method

The cooking method used to make Japanese dumplings greatly affects the taste and texture of both the wrapper and its fillings. There are three main types based on that criteria.

  • Steamed gyoza: The cooking method used for steamed gyoza is identical to the method used to make steamed jiaozi (zhēng jiǎo). It involves steaming the dumpling in a bamboo steamer or wooden container until the wrapper turns transparent.

  • Pan-fried gyoza (yaki-gyoza): This is the most common type in the country. You’ll need to fry the dumpling in a pan for a few minutes before adding water (and cornstarch) and covering the pan with a lid to steam it.

  • Deep-fried gyoza (age-gyoza): Deep-fried gyoza is not as common as the other two types. However, it can be just as tasty. The dumpling is deep-fried in vegetable oil until it turns golden brown and then spread out on a paper towel to remove the excess oil.

  • Boiled gyoza (sui-gyoza): Sui-gyoza produces the most unique kind of dumpling. By boiling the ingredients in water or soup, you’ll get a soft dumpling with rich, tasty fillings. 

Types of Gyoza Based on Filling

Gyoza fillings typically contain a combination of multiple ingredients. However, the presence of certain meats, seafood, or plants can serve as a means to categorize them. Below is a list of filling-based types.

  • Pork gyoza: Ground pork is the most common ingredient used in gyoza. This kind of dumpling is usually accompanied with cabbage, chives, ginger, garlic, and a variety of seasonings. Pork gyoza is a common side dish for ramen noodles.

  • Chicken gyoza: This type is identical to the one above, but contains chicken instead of pork. It’s typically enjoyed with some vegetables on the side, including salad and creamy coleslaw.

  • Vegetable gyoza: If you’re looking for a vegan option, vegetable gyoza is your best chance of getting it. The dumpling is usually filled with tofu, onion, mushroom, cabbage, and carrot.

  • Shrimp gyoza: This is the most common seafood gyoza. It contains the same ingredients as most of the meat-based gyoza but uses minced shrimp instead of ground meat.

  • Beef gyoza: Often paired with rice and miso soup, this type contains ground beef and the typical vegetable ingredients used for making the Japanese dumpling.

Health Benefits of Gyoza: What’s Good About These Dumplings?

Green gyoza

Gyoza happens to be one of the healthiest Japanese foods, thanks to the low amount of calories it contains per serving. It serves as a rich source of protein, essential vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber. If you love fried, greasy meals but want to manage your weight, gyoza is a great option for you. The dish is also a good booster of metabolism, which is another win for it in the weight-loss department.

Common ingredients contained in the Japanese dumpling play a major role in the health benefits you can get from it. For one, the dough wrapper is a fantastic source of carbohydrates, which provides energy for daily activities.

Gyoza also tends to contain ginger and garlic, two ingredients known for their antioxidant properties and ability to prevent gastrointestinal problems. The chives in most of these dumplings are great for controlling cholesterol levels and reducing blood pressure.

Gyoza cooking methods also contribute to its health benefits. For instance, steaming or pan-frying your gyoza instead of deep-frying it will help reduce the level of fat in the meal. Lastly, you can easily make your gyoza vegan-friendly by filling it with tofu and other vegetables.

Gyoza in Japanese Culture: More Than Just Food

Frozen gyoza

Dumpling, one of the most popular meals in Japan, is often served in households and restaurants. Frozen gyoza are common in convenience stores (konbini), supermarkets, and even vending machines. To many Japanese people, gyoza is an okazu, which is a term used to refer to a side dish for rice. It’s more of a family meal than it is a festive one. Because of their small size, the dumplings can be eaten in one or two bites. 

Despite the availability of store-bought gyoza, Japanese lovers of the dish prefer to make it at home because they can easily customize the fillings and cooking methods to suit them.

How to Make Gyoza from Scratch

You can make delicious gyoza in your kitchen if you follow the recipe we share in this section. We understand that this is a versatile dish, so we did our best to make the recipe as customizable as possible. Before we dive into the cooking process, you need to gather all of your ingredients.

Ingredients needed:

  • Meat, fish, or tofu: You can fill your dumpling with minced fish, tofu, or any kind of meat. Pork is the most common ingredient.

  • Cabbage: It’s best to use regular cabbage for gyoza.

  • Aromatic vegetables: You’ll need to finely chop chives, garlic, and ginger.

  • Seasoning: Feel free to add some umami to your recipe with ingredients like soy sauce, sesame oil, salt, and pepper.

  • Gyoza wrappers: You can buy this from an Asian store or make some at home with all-purpose flour, water, salt, and cornstarch. Store-bought wonton wrappers are also a viable option. To make homemade gyoza wrappers, mix all of those ingredients in a bowl, knead the content for 10 minutes, shape them into logs, and allow them to rest for 30 minutes. Next, use a knife to cut the dough into smaller pieces, flatten it, and recut it into circular shapes ready to be used as wrappers.

How to make the gyoza:

When you have all of your ingredients, you can start making the gyoza. The first step is to mix all of the ingredients and knead them into a paste. Next, place the mixture on the gyoza wrapper and proceed to fold it using any of the gyoza wrapping techniques we’ll discuss in this post. Pan-fry the dumplings in hot oil until the bottoms turn brown, then add some water and cover the lid of the pan. Allow it to steam for some minutes or until all the moisture evaporates. When that happens, you can remove the lid and let the gyoza continue to cook until the bottoms turn brown. Feel free to make the dipping sauce on the side by mixing soy sauce, chili oil, and rice vinegar. Your gyoza is ready to serve!

Gyoza Wrapping Techniques

Woman making gyoza

Wrapping the fillings in homemade gyoza should be simple if you know the right techniques to employ. There are two main methods of doing this, but both of them begin the same way. Firstly, you need to place the homemade or store-bought wrapper in the palm of your hand and add some filling in the center. Dip a finger in water and use it to wet the edge of half the gyoza wrapper. Now it’s time to choose between pleating toward the center or toward one side.

Method 1: Center Pleating

Start by folding the wrapper in half. Use your thumb and index finger to pinch the wrapper in the center, but avoid sealing it. Make pleats from the center to the right end at the rate of one per quarter-inch. Three to four pleats are typically enough. Make the same number of pleats from the center to the left. Press the pleats with your fingers and make them into your preferred shape. You can keep the wrapped gyoza on parchment paper while you fold the others using the same method.

Method 2: One-Sided Pleating

Start by folding the wrapper in half. Make pleats from the right end to the left end at the rate of one per quarter-inch. Continue until you run out of wrapper to fold. Press the pleats with your fingers and make them into your preferred shape.

Cooking Your Gyoza to Perfection

To get the ideal texture and crispiness from your gyoza, take note of the following expert tips:

  • If you want to get the right level of tenderness from your juicy fillings, use a meat-to-cabbage weight ratio ranging from 1:2 to 1:1.

  • Your steamed gyoza will have a higher chance of coming out great if you follow the traditional method of cooking it in a small-size bamboo steamer. We recommend the 2-Tier Bamboo Dumpling Steamer. It steams fast and retains flavor and nutrients.

  • The edges of store-bought gyoza wrappers dry quickly after you open their package. Remember to cover them with a paper towel to preserve their moisture.

  • Don’t store pan-fried gyoza in the freezer because you would have to reheat it, which reduces its crispiness and hardness. However, you can store gyoza in the freezer before cooking it. Don’t wait too long after folding to place it in the freezer.

  • Sprinkle some salt on the cabbage and squeeze out the water inside to avoid soggy dumplings.

  • Add just the right amount of filling (about a table) to each dumpling. It will squeeze out if you add too much and make folding difficult.

  • Proper kneading of the ingredients is vital to ensuring that the seasoning is evenly spread out across the meat and vegetables.

2-Tier Bamboo Dumpling Steamer

Aside from looking rad on a kitchen table, steamers are a fantastic tool for cooking. Steaming is an ideal way of preparing food because it is quick, gentle (great for fish), and fewer nutrients are lost when cooking. This small-sized steamer is great for a small serving of dumpings or vegetables. To use, place the food in the steamer, close the lid on, and place in a shallow pan around the same size with some water (about an inch or two), and then bring to a boil. For easier cleanup, use a piece of parchment paper.

Product Details

  • Dimensions: 8" x 5.7"
  • Material: Bamboo

Crafting the Perfect Gyoza Sauce: Tips and Recipes

Dipping gyoza in sauce

There are no strict components for gyoza dipping sauce. Hence, each restaurant tends to have its own recipes. Most will reveal that gyoza sauce is a blend of soy sauce and vinegar.

Some people prefer to add chili to give it an extra kick, while others use sesame oil because it blends well with the saltiness and acidity of the other ingredients. To make a great gyoza sauce, you only need four ingredients:

  • Soy sauce: You may use either light or dark soy sauce for the recipe. If you want something gluten-free, consider using tamari instead.

  • Vinegar: You need to get maximum sweetness from this ingredient, so we recommend rice vinegar. Other options are apple cider vinegar, white wine vinegar, and black vinegar. Feel free to add sugar to taste.

  • Chili: The options are endless when it comes to chili. You can add chili powder, flakes, oil, and paste. Fresh chili is also fine if you can handle the heat.

  • Sesame oil: Use sesame oil to add nutty flavor to gyoza dipping sauce. 

To make the sauce, mix all of the ingredients in a bowl, add grated garlic and ginger, and allow to marinate for about five minutes, then pan-fry the mixture. Alternatively, you can buy ready-made gyoza sauce. We highly recommend Ajinomoto Gyoza Dipping Sauce because it contains all of the primary ingredients in the right proportions. You can also use it for other meals, such as spring rolls, egg crepes, tuna, and tofu.

Ajinomoto Gyoza Dipping Sauce

Gyoza, often anglicized as “potstickers” are the Japanese dumplings made of ground meat and vegetables, all wrapped in a thin dough. Originally from China, gyoza typically contain ground pork, green onion, cabbage, and ginger. They are often served pan-fried, but gyoza can also be boiled: either way they require gyoza sauce, or dumpling dipping sauce, and we suggest this one. It contains all the traditional ingredients, primarily sweet vinegar, soy sauce, and garlic.

Common Allergens: Soy.

7.44 oz

Gyoza Pairings: What to Serve with Your Dumplings

Ramen with a side of gyoza

Japanese potstickers are eaten as a side dish or appetizer more often than not. Gyoza can be satisfying on its own, but pairing it with other dishes and drinks takes the experience to a whole new level.

The best dishes to serve with Japanese dumplings are ramen, fried rice, lo mein noodles, sesame chicken, green beans, and fried eggs (with chili oil and garlic). Honorable mentions include crispy tofu, chow mein, and cucumber salad.

Drinks that pair well with the potsticker are red wine, white wine, sake, shochu, beer, green tea, and sparkling water.

Momoya Chili Oil with Fried Garlic

Spice up your meals (literally and figuratively) with Momoya Chili Oil with Fried Garlic! Made with simple ingredients like fresh chili, onion, and crunchy fried garlic, this Japanese seasoning is beloved for both taste and texture! Add the perfect kick to any dish and enjoy on top of steamed rice, gyoza dumplings, and eggs, or as a seasoning for stir-fried dishes, noodles, or fried rice.

Common Allergens: Wheat, Soy.

3.88 oz

Where to Buy the Best Gyoza and Ingredients

You can buy ready-made Japanese gyoza in Asian stores and supermarkets. If you want to make it at home, you’ll find ingredients like soy sauce, sesame oil, chili, and vinegar in the same establishments. For the most convenient shopping experience, buy these ingredients at a reliable online store like Bokksu Market.

Why Gyoza is a Must-Try in Japanese Cuisine

Whatever your tastes or preferences, you will always find juicy goodness in Japanese dumplings, thanks to their versatility. The dish is gaining global popularity as one of the most versatile and healthy appetizers on the planet. If you’ve got an upcoming family meal or social gathering, gyoza can bring a fun and interactive cooking experience to the event!

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Gyoza Delights: Exploring the World of Japanese Dumplings


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