Well, it's hard to believe I've been back on the mainland for over a week now but I was in Hawaii for the beginning of April and it was glorious.
Jealous? Just wait! While I was home, I got to make gyoza (dumplings) with my mom! It was super fun, even though folding the wrappers proved surprisingly hard to wrap my head around (pun intended!). I made my mom show me how to do the folds approximately 5 times and then took a video to continue to study her methods. Afraid I'm not gifted in the ways of spacial intelligence. But! We now have a video of Kathy making dumplings, so overall, I'm very happy with the state of things!
These dumplings were a bit time consuming but you can (and should!) make a whole bunch and freeze them for multiple meals. We used store bought wrappers but if you want to go all out, I might suggest this here recipe for wrappers from scratch. The production was a nice social activity--a fun thing to do while sitting around and chatting. Also, it can be rather meditative if you want to have some productive zen time!
My mom likes to say that she cooks like an artist (using the recipe as a base from which to elaborate upon) as opposed to my aunt who cooks like a scientist (following the recipe exactly and using precise measurements). Our dumpling making was definitely more of an artistic endeavor--we didn't exactly measure things and kind of rolled with it all; to share this recipe here, I've made approximations that are accurate-ish. Mainly, it's important to fold the gyoza appropriately so that the dumplings remain intact while cooking but when it comes to the filling, feel free to flash that artistic license.
PS. Not only did my visit home include culinarily adventures but also much visual inspiration as I got to drop in on my mom's watercolor class as well as visit 3 of my favorite museums (The Spalding House, The Honolulu Museum of Art, and the Hawaii Sate Art Museum). Saw so many amazing pieces but was especially taken aback by this work made of nails and thread. Talk about productive meditation!
PPS. I found this most fascinating article today! Anabel, time to draw up some questions for another informational interview!
For the filling
1 1/2 C shitake mushroom, minced
1/2 C carrot, minced
half head of cabbage (Napa cabbage… long rather than round)
1/2 onion (or some green onions) , minced
2-3 tsp garlic, minced
handful of cilantro, minced (optional)
1 Tbsp sesame seed oil
1-2 tsp cornstarch
First, wash and quarter the cabbage. Next, wilt the cabbage by placing it in a pot of water (approximately 2 cups) and sprinkling with 2 teaspoons of salt. Let sit for approximately 15 minutes while you prepare the rest of the dumpling filling. Mince carrots , garlic, onion, cilantro, and mushrooms, using a food processor if desired, and transfer to a mixing bowl. After cabbage has wilted, drain salt water, rinse, dry, mince, and add to mixing bowl. Stir all the filling together and add approximately 1 Tbsp of sesame seed oil. And then use a teaspoon or two of cornstarch to get the filling to become (in my mother's words:) "blobby rather than crumbly."
Shaping the dumpling
Before shaping your dumplings, set up a little station with a small bowl of water, a stack of wrappers, and your mixing bowl full of filling. To fold the dumpling, first take a wrapper in the palm of one hand, and with the opposite hand, dip your finger in the water and wet half of the circumference of the wrapper. Place a spoonful of filling in the center and close the wrapper, bringing the wet and the dry sides together, holding in the center. Now you want to pleat approximately four folds, which should only be on the dry side of wrapper, pinching the dry and wet surfaces together to seal so that the dumpling has a crescent shape and a flat bottom to sit on. (*See video above for further clarification!)
Fry at a low heat in oil, turning to brown each side ( 3 sides) and then toss in a half cup of water and cover briefly to steam them for a final minute or two, removing lid to allow the water to steam away and remove gyoza from the pan just as the water disappears.