Gyoza Recipe (Japanese Pan-Fried Dumplings)

Pan-fried Gyoza

la fuji mama Hello friends! Please say hi to Rachael, who’ve I’ve been mentoring in the blog-world as a Steamy Kitchen intern.

She’s a kick-ass gyoza ninja and I’ve asked her to write up her super-secret recipe for these savory pan-fried Japanese style dumplings.

Rachael lived in Japan for a number of years and here’s her story and a step by step photo tutorial on how to make Gyoza.

~ Jaden

How did a girl who was born in the Rocky Mountains and raised in California and who graduated with French and Law degrees end up writing a food blog called La Fuji Mama and striving to perfect her gyoza recipe?  The story starts seven and a half years ago when I married a man who had lived and studied in Japan.  Six months into our marriage, we moved to Japan, a place completely foreign to me.  Before my marriage, I had traveled all over Europe and lived in Paris, but I had never imagined that I would ever live in Asia.  But there I was, living on the outskirts of Yokohama in a tiny little 400-square-foot, two-bedroom apartment in a neighborhood devoid of any other foreigners.

My kitchen consisted of a large sink, a gas range with two burners and a “fish fryer” beneath the burners (like a little mini broiler), a refrigerator that was considerably shorter than I was, a toaster oven, and two cupboards. I spent my free time exploring, eating, watching and listening, and loving each moment more than the last.  After almost a year, we returned to the States.  Three years later, my husband’s company asked him to transfer to Tokyo, which he happily agreed to.  I soon found myself living in Japan for the second time, this time in downtown Tokyo, in a slightly larger 950-square-foot, three-bedroom apartment, with a slightly larger kitchen, and a spectacular view of Mt. Fuji.

Fuji View

I quickly settled into life, feeling much more comfortable the second time around, and trying to embrace the experience.  Our ties to Japan were further strengthened by the birth of our first child in a Japanese hospital.  A piece of my heart will always be in Tokyo because of that experience.

Squirrel in Kimono

Our move back to the US a year ago was a difficult one, but we try to keep the “homesickness” for Japan at bay with trips to Mitsuwa (our nearest Japanese grocery store) and lots of home cooked Japanese meals.

My first foray into Japanese home cooking started a few weeks after we moved to Japan the first time.  One of my neighbors, a woman named Miki, periodically knocked on my door to ask if I wanted to “cook and talk.”   I looked forward to those knocks – they meant that I got to accompany her to her apartment and spend an hour with her, helping her to both cook a meal and practice her English.  It was in her kitchen that I stuffed and pleated my first gyoza.

Miki made it look easy–her hands rhythmically pleating the top layer of the gyoza wrapper and simultaneously pinching it against the smooth bottom layer as she went–finishing each gyoza within moments of having started it.  My first gyoza took me forever to complete, looked sloppy, and didn’t hold together well when cooked.  But with a few pointers from Miki, my gyoza quickly started to look more as they should (although I still can’t stuff and pleat a gyoza as fast as she could).

Over the last seven years I’ve tweaked the gyoza recipe I learned from Miki, adjusting the amounts of ingredients here and there to suit our palates, and adding a couple of ingredients used by other wonderful Japanese cooks I’ve met along the way.  The recipe I’m going to share with you today is that recipe in its latest form (though ask me again in a few months and it will probably already be slightly different).

My most recent adjustment to the gyoza recipe is in the technique I use when mixing the filling.  In Elizabeth Andoh’s cookbook, Washoku, she describes a method that helps tenderize the meat and helps hold the filling together.  She explains that it’s “a bit like baseball practice” because you are gathering the filling into a ball and throwing it back into the bowl repeatedly. The bonus to the technique is that you get to play with your food.

How to make Gyoza

Gyoza are really easy to make.  Just mince, grate, and measure out your ingredients as called for, gyoza ingredients

and then mix the gyoza ingredients together in a bowl using your hands.  mix with your hands

finished gyoza filling

Yep, you’ve gotta get your hands dirty to make these!  Next you’ll use Elizabeth Andoh’s “baseball practice” technique.  Scoop up the mixture into a ball with your hands and throw it back with some force into the bowl. Repeat this several times to tenderize the meat and help the mixture stick together.  Now it’s time to form your gyoza.  Put a bit of the meat mixture in the center of a wrapper, get your fingertip wet and then trace a line around half of the wrapper.

forming the gyoza

Then you fold the wrapper in half over the filling,

fold the wrapper in half

and pinch it in the center.

pinch in the center

Now comes the fun part–the pleating! Holding the wrapper in that middle spot that you just pinched with your left hand, make a pleat in the top part of the wrapper, pinching it against the flat edge of the wrapper at the back. first pleat

Holding the filled half-circle in the left hand, pleat the top of the wrapper from the middle out, pressing it to the flat edge of the wrapper at the back (only the front edge will be pleated–the back edge stays flat).  Proceed to make two or three more pleats to the right of the first pleat. finishing one side of pleats

Then switch sides and pleat the other side (to the left of the pinched middle). finish the pleats

Set aside the stuffed dumpling with the pleated-wrapper edge up. finished gyoza

Repeat the process until all of your wrappers have been filled and pleated.  It’s always nice to have a partner in crime for this part because it goes a lot quicker. finish all the gyoza

Now you can either cover the gyoza with some plastic wrap and put them in the fridge for a couple of hours until you’re ready to cook them (or you could freeze them to keep them for longer) or you can cook them right away.  The gyoza are first fried on their flat side (pleats up), pan fry the gyoza

until the bottom is nice and brown.

check for nicely browned bottoms

Then, water is added and the pan sealed with a lid

steaming the gyoza

until the upper part of the gyoza is steamed.

finishing cooking the gyoza

Then you serve them browned side up with a dipping sauce made from soy sauce, rice vinegar, and a few drops of chili oil.

dipping the gyoza
If you can’t find round gyoza wrappers, you can always use square wonton wrappers and cut them into circles using a large biscuit cutter.

cut wonton wrappers into circles
Or you can really go all out and make your own wrappers.

These gyoza have a hint of heat from the addition of crushed red chili pepper.  They also contain aka miso paste (red/dark miso paste), which has a wonderful pungent salty flavor.  If you cannot find aka miso paste, you can either leave it out altogether, or subsitute shiro miso paste (white miso paste).  If you leave the miso out, increase the salt by 1/2 teaspoon.  If you substitute shiro miso paste, leave out the sugar and increase the salt by 1/4 teaspoon.
pan fried gyoza

Gyoza Recipe (Japanese Pan Fried Dumplings)

4 cups, loosely packed, minced Napa cabbage (use the frilly leafy half of the cabbage)
1/2 teaspoon table salt
9 ounces ground pork
1/2 tablespoon freshly grated ginger (with a Microplane grater)
2 – 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tablespoon green onion (green part only), minced
2 teaspoon aka miso paste (red/dark miso paste)
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon crushed red chili pepper
1/4 teaspoon sugar
40 dumpling wrappers

For cooking the dumplings:
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/2 cup water

Dipping Sauce:
6 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
Several drops of chili oil or sesame oil (optional)

1. Toss the minced cabbage with the salt in a large bowl and let it sit for 10 minutes.  Using both hands, or a cheese cloth, squeeze the cabbage firmly to drain and discard the excess water (prevent your dumplings from becoming mushy) and then transfer the cabbage to a deep bowl.  Add the pork, ginger, garlic, green onion, miso, sesame oil, crushed red pepper, and sugar.  Mix everything together with your hands until all the ingredients are evenly distributed.  Using your hands, scoop the mixture into a ball, lift it, and then throw it back into the bowl.  Repeat several times to tenderize the meat and help the mixture stick together.

2. Have a small bowl of cold water ready.  Lay a dumpling wrapper on a dry work surface, and place a heaping teaspoon of the meat mixture in the center of the wrapper.  With a fingertip moistened with water, trace a line along half of the edge of the round wrapper.  Fold the wrapper over to enclose the filling, and pinch the wrapper in the center to seal the edges together at that spot.  Holding the filled half-circle in the left hand, pleat the top of the wrapper from the middle out, pressing it to the flat edge of the wrapper at the back.  Set aside the stuffed dumpling with the pleated-wrapper edge up. Repeat to make 40 dumplings in all.

3. In a large skillet with a tight fitting lid, heat 1 teaspoon of the sesame oil over medium-high heat. Carefully place as many of the dumplings that can fit without touching in the skillet with the pleated-wrapper edge up.  Cook the dumplings for 3 minutes, or until nicely browned on the bottom.  Check the progress by lifting 1 or 2 dumplings by their pleated edge.

4. Once the bottoms are nicely browned, use the skillet lid to shield yourself and carefully pour in 1/4 cup of the water.  When the hissing and splattering die down, drizzle in 1/2 teaspoon of the sesame oil around the edge of the skillet.  Place the lid on the skillet to trap in the moisture and then quickly lower the heat to keep the liquid at a bare simmer.

5. Check the dumplings after 2 minutes.  When the wrappers appear slightly translucent and the meat feels firm when pressed lightly with a spoon, remove the lid and raise the heat slightly.  Continue to cook until all the water has evaporated and only the oil remains (about 2 minutes).  Once you hear a sizzling sound, shake the skillet.  The dumplings should slide about.  If they seem to stick to the skillet, move the skillet away from the stove and replace the lid for a moment.  Remove the dumplings from the skillet with a broad flexible spatula. If you’d like, flip them over so that the seared surface faces up.  Cook the remaining dumplings the same way.  Serve the dumplings hot accompanied by the dipping sauce.

4. While the dumplings are cooking, make the dipping sauce by mixing the soy sauce and rice vinegar together in a small bowl.  Pour the sauce into a small serving pitcher or distribute among individual dipping dishes.

Comments 126

  1. Cate

    These look great! I’ve never made gyoza, but I make pot stickers that look really similar. I love how living in a foreign country can completely change your outlook on cooking (and life!) Because of our time in Korea, meals seem like they’re missing something if they don’t include kimchi!

  2. Murasaki Shikibu

    Those are definitely Japanese style pot stickers. It’s ‘guy food’ as most guys love them. I prefer the boiled type they make in Beijing though – but that’s because I can eat more of them. =P

  3. Mike

    I lived just south of Yokohama for 11 years and gyoza is among my favorite foods. I’ve often thought of making them because I’ve yet to run across a Japanese restaurant in the US that cooks them properly.

    Your story, more than anything else, has inspired me to give a go at making them at home.

    Gambate!

  4. Kim M.

    These look AMAZING! I love the step by step photos! I can’t wait to make these…thanks for sharing, Rachael!

  5. Viviane Bauquet Farre / food & style

    Rachel, your post, recipe and pictures are absolutely wonderful! Outstanding job really… I also really enjoyed reading about your time in Japan… It is a very special place.

    I have a question: What would you recommend as a meatless stuffing for the Gyosa? My first thought was shiitake mushrooms, but I would love to hear your recommendations.

    Thank you so much! I will make these fore sure…

  6. amber

    Wow! This tutorial would have helped me out during our Washoku Warrior challenge a few months ago! These look fantastic Fuji Mama! Keep it up, you’re amazing…

  7. Danica

    I LOVE Rachel and read her blog often. I LOVED reading the story along with the tutorial. Now can you come make some Gyoza for me??? They look AWESOME!

    Sooo cool that you are a Steamy Kitchen Rachel – Congrats!

  8. tigerfish

    I enjoy reading your experience, esp that of moving to another country and staying there for sometime. I find that very challenging and still do. I have been moving for the past two years and how I wish I could settle down in one place for longer.

    Coincidentally, we recently made gyoza too :D

  9. mvmaithai

    You food bloggers are incredible! All that detail and stories. I love it. I haven’t watched Food Network in ages…
    I have been traveling by boat, which means moving constantly. But I do prefer staying a while to get to know the place better. Where I am currently (TN), I am afraid to try Asian restaurants, so I make most of my meals. For tonight’s dinner, gyoza it is. Hope I can find the wrapper and napa cabbage:-)

  10. Dawn in CA

    Great story, and great recipe. I worked in a very traditional Japanese restaurant for a couple summers when I was in college. As the only non-Japanese employee there, it was quite a cultural learning experience. I loved everything about it! The food, my co-workers, the language, the traditions. Ever since then, I’ve wanted to visit Japan, but alas, haven’t made it there yet. One day! Thanks for the post, really enjoyed it.

  11. The Cooking Bride

    I LOVE gyoza! I tried making them once, but they didn’t turn out that great. I think because I had no clue what I was doing. The red miso will give me an excuse to check out the Asian market down the street from my house.

  12. Kellie Choi

    BINGO! I was just searching for an authentic gyoza recipe for a dinner party last night….This recipe will be perfect!!
    Thanks~

  13. Catherine @ Domestic Joy

    Thanks for documenting this so well! I am totally addicted to dumplings in all shapes and forms!

  14. Eli

    Jaden, your blog rocks !
    Rachel, Thanks for sharing this Top Secret guioza recipe, especially the right technique to pleat them ! Love your blog and Squirrel and Bug ! I also adore the mini Japanese lessons I have with you !

  15. The Teacher Cooks

    You are a pro at this blogging. Great job. I really enjoyed the post. I want to visit Japan now! Your recipe sounds and looks great. I am trying these out on my family this weekend and then maybe will demonstrate to my class. They will really be impressed that a Southern girl can cook Aisan food. Thanks.

  16. Darin

    Thanks for the detailed photos on how to pleat them. I think that’s what looks the most daunting to people but your explanation and photos help to break it down step-by-step!

  17. Diana

    I love gyoza, they’re my favorite simple dish to keep in the freezer. This looks like a great recipe.

  18. Bren

    well congrats on new intern! always good to have! lovely pics as usual and the recipe, well u know how good it sounds! :)

  19. Bianca

    Thanks so much for sharing Rachel, I really appreciate it! I’m no domestic goddess but your instructions were clear so I feel like I will attempt this sometime soon and possibly make my friends be my guinea pigs.

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  21. Kristin

    Great post, well done! It will be awhile before I can attempt this recipe, but I am confidant that when I do, it will be easy with your excellent instructions. Mmmm…my family is going to love it. :)

  22. Eleanor Hoh (Wokstar)

    Hey Fujimama, really enjoyed hearing about your experience in Japan. Your daughter is ADORABLE. I love your clear step by step. My sister was OCD about her wontons, she hated us wrapping but we did it anyway. Definitely more fun to do with others.

  23. Nate

    Beautiful pleating. I like the inclusion of miso paste in the filling. We usually use just soy sauce.

  24. debbie

    Many thanks for the recipe!! when I was in Japan, *I also had my first baby there! Gyoza was my all time favorite food to eat!!! Yum…I also loved it when the vendors pushing a cart w/burning coals under small rocks, w/Yams and corn on the cob cooking…..they would say: “NockaJima” (definitely mispelled), and all the neighbors and me would go out and buy the yams and corn….(we lived off-base)…so many fond memories of Japan….their pastry!! Better than any French Pasterie’!

  25. Denise @ Creative Kitchen

    These look AMAZING!!! I’m bookmarking this now and can’t wait to try them! I’ve done wontons before, even made homemade wonton wrappers…but I can’t wait to try the gyoza!

    Loved your story about living in Japan. The skyline photo reminded me of my time living in Hawaii. It was so beautiful there!

  26. momgateway

    What an interesting recipe with the addition of aka miso! I think it will make a huge difference. In Japan I enjoyed gyoza with La-Yu chili oil.

  27. Argus (Jy)

    Hey, Jaden! Very cool of you to offer internship.
    Rachael, you’re going great guns! All the best. I’m sure you’ll have lots of fun with Mrs H.

  28. Amanda

    Ah Rachael, one of my favorite foodies! I loved reading the story about your life in japan, that time with your neighbor sounds wonderful. I am envious :) These look so incredibly delicious! Wish you could come to my house and we could “cook and talk” :-D

  29. teyam

    can’t wait to try making gyoza, im sure my hubby will love it. adorable, so cute, your little girl.

  30. Carolyn at tastingspoons.com

    What a fun story, Rachel. I lived in Japan for just a couple of months (a l-o-ong time ago), on a U.S. military base mostly. I took Japanese language classes and the teacher, a native Japanese, took pity on me (I was alone there) and invited me to her home for dinner and was kind enough to give me “the experience” of going to someone’s home. She fed me gyoza, and I was hooked. I have made them, but never perfected the pleating part very well. Your instructions will help a lot!

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  33. Jackie Connelly

    Ok – made these for dinner guests (loved them!)…made them for a lunch guest (loved them!)…continually asked to make them for my husband..we love them. Thank you for this!

    ~ j

  34. Jackie Connelly

    Oh – and I should add that I made 2 varieties: pork, and vegetarian (for me); I love the veggie route because I can put almost any veggie I’ve got in the fridge into the mix. Deelish!
    ~ j

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  36. Jojo

    You seem like a nice person and your recipes are well chosen and interesting. This does not, however excuse the excessive use of pointless pictures on your web pages. Just because digital photography is easy does not mean it should be over used.

    Let’s put this another way…. if a picture is worth a thousand words, think of all the pointless blathering you have foisted upon your readers. Less CAN really be more.

  37. Alex

    Tried these for the first time tonight with great success! I’ve never worked with gyoza wrappers before, but it wasn’t too bad and I thought they turned out looking pretty good. I used regular, ol’ cabbage since I couldn’t find Napa cabbage and it worked fine, though I could see how it would be better with the leafier Napa variety. Thanks!

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  39. Julia

    I love this post. :) I cheated though, and didn’t use a cookie cutter to round my wrappers out… I pleated and snipped the finished dumpling with kitchen shears… haha! They came out just as lovely :). Thanks for sharing! I’ve been following this site for a while now :)

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