For someone who is almost entirely based online, it was the worst possible situation, the nightmare that so many computer nerds fear: My laptop wouldn’t turn on. Under attack from both trojans and viruses, that feeble protection program didn’t stand a chance, and those malicious bugs ran rampant through the system. It was out like a light, and not about to simply snap out of its deep slumber. I was facing a mandatory break from the internet, without even time in advance to prepare. At times like this, it occurs to me how utterly helpless I would be without technology, and how pathetically dependent my whole life is on this one device in particular. Ah, the pain of a blogger and online student.
Desperate for a distraction, the kitchen was my only refuge in this dire situation. Combing my mind for something delicious but perhaps more time consuming than usual, I realized it was about time I finally made gyoza. Once a favorite dish, wolfed down without a care at every Japanese restuarant around, it dropped off my radar for the most part when fishy or meaty additions became a concern. Easy to make, yes, but far more tedious than is appropriate for an everyday dinner, it was a project always slated for another day, until it fell off the to-do list altogether.
Assembling a completely avant-garde filling of adzuki beans and veggies, the strangest part of the whole experience was writing everything down on a quaint little notepad, instead of punching in my directions into the waiting keyboard. The quiet chopping sounds punctuated by the faint scratch of pencil to paper seemed well suited for this recipe, though; a calm, zen environment enveloped the kitchen, despite the flurry of activity.
Gathering wonton skins into little bundles, pinching together the edges just as my home stay mother had taught me so many years ago, the repetitive motion was definitely soothing, grounding; a reminder that life doesn’t stop when the computer goes off, and perhaps even more of it can occur as a result.
I’m not going to lie and say I didn’t hop right online as soon as my laptop was back from the computer hospital, but once everything was up and running again, I was grateful to have had the opportunity to make this long suffering recipe. Not only did the act of assembling it help to sooth my nerves, but the eating of it wasn’t half bad, either.
Don’t think for a minute that it’s not a recipe for a busy day, though- The process of making the gyoza would go many times fast if you had another set of hands (or two) to help! For all those finicky folds, this is one more complex main dish that’s absolutely worth the effort.
Adzuki Bean Gyoza
1 Cup Finely Chopped Vegetables*
1 Cup Cooked Adzuki Beans
1/2 Inch Fresh Ginger, Peeled and Grated
1 Green Scallion, Thinly Sliced
1 – 2 Cloves Garlic, Finely Minced
4 – 5 Fresh Shiitake Mushrooms, Caps Only, Chopped
1/4 – 1/2 Teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
2 Teaspoons Soy Sauce
40 – 50 (3 1/2)-Inch Round Gyoza Skins**
*I used a combination of napa cabbage, zucchini, and carrots, but you can use just about anything you have in the fridge. Try bean sprouts, red peppers, kale, water chestnuts, broccoli, beets… Don’t be afraid to experiment!
**Be very careful to read labels, as many of those that you’ll find in a standard mega mart have eggs. I purchased mine at an Asian grocery store, and found them in the freezer section. Just make sure they’re completely thawed and at room temperature before beginning to assemble your gyoza.
The procedure for making the filling couldn’t be simpler; Just toss together all of your veggies and seasonings, adding more or less garlic and pepper to taste. For best results, let it sit and marinate for an hour or two, but you can go ahead and use it immediately if you’re in a hurry.
Keep your stack of inactive wrappers covered in a lightly moistened paper towel to keep them from drying out. Have a little container of water ready to seal the edges of the dumplings. Place about 1/2 – 1 teaspoon of filling in the center of one skin (being very careful not to over-fill! It won’t seem like much, but a little goes a long way), run a moistened finger around the whole edge, and pleat the gyoza. It’s very difficult for me to verbally describe the method for pinching together the gyoza into neat little packages, but you can find a really helpful visual guide here.
Once you have all of your gyoza folded and ready to go, heat 2 – 3 tablespoons of oil in a wide saute pan with lid, enough to generously coat the bottom. Although they’re sometimes translated as “pot stickers”, you don’t actually want them to stick in the end! With the heat at about medium, place about 10 – 12 into the pan, being sure not to crowd it, allow the bottoms to brown for about 4 – 6 minutes. Once nicely golden, pour in about 1/3 cup of water, and very quickly clamp on the lid. Turn down the heat to medium-low, and let steam for 5 – 6 minutes, until the skins look translucent. Remove the gyoza to a serving platter, and eat immediately or keep warm in a low oven while you finish the rest.
Serve with additional soy sauce or dipping sauce.
Makes 40 – 50 gyoza