The dumplings known in Japan as gyoza are typically filled with diced cabbage and pork. Most of the time they’re also packed with enough garlic to make them as dangerous a temptation for office workers on their lunch break as a frosty mid-day beer.
Even though China, Japan, and Korea all have distinct food cultures, being so close to one another on the map means that some things are bound to cross borders. Case in point: all three countries love gyoza, and rightly so!
But while they’re united in their love for the food is universal, it turns out each nation has its own unique way of wrapping them, as our Japanese correspondent living in Germany recently found out.
One day while craving some comfort food, our Berlin-based reporter invited her friends, natives of Seoul and Shanghai, over for a little cultural exchange by way of gyoza. After a quick trip to the local Asian specialty supermarket for supplies, they were all set to begin.
▼ Dumpling skins
▼ The filling, mixed and ready to go
▼ OK, let’s make some gyoza!
Our group started with Korean-style gyoza. First, moisten the edge of the skin, and fold it into a half circle.
Next, moisten one tip and hold the dumpling in both hands, like this.
Press the two tips together.
Finally, give one last squeeze, to keep it from unraveling.
And there you have it: Korean-style gyoza.
The process is quick and easy, but there’s no denying how cute these roly-poly guys are. Our Korean gyoza collaborator explained that steaming or boiling are the preferred ways to cook them.
Our reporter was particularly enamored with this type of gyoza. Looking at them put a smile on her face, just like looking at a chubby baby, and she’s made several batches in this style since learning how to prepare them.
▼ Ahhh….aren’t they precious?
In contrast to the adorable Korean-style dumplings, the angular Chinese gyoza were chic and modern-looking. Folding them is a little more complicated than the Korean version, but still isn’t anything that we’d call difficult.
Again, start by moistening the edges with water. Fold the skin lengthwise, with only the opposite sides of the center portion touching.
Next, fold the end up towards the center, creating a triangular section.
Press the corners of the triangle into the center section.
Repeat for the other side, and you’re done.
Preparing the Chinese-style gyoza is a little like origami, but once you get the hang of it, it’s a snap. Our friend from Shanghai tells us that they’re usually eaten boiled.
Finally, our reporter herself whipped up some Japanese style gyoza. They’re made in a similar way to the Korean ones, but instead of wrapping them into a ball at the end, you make a series of fashionable pleats along the edge where the two halves of the skin meet.
With that, all that was left to do was to cook up the dumplings and dig in. Our group boiled most of them, but also did up a batch of pan-fried gyoza, the way people in Japan most often eat theirs.
In the end, our three chefs stepped away from the table happy and full, and we were reminded of an important lesson. It doesn’t matter what you look like on the outside, as long as you’ve got a delicious mix of pork and garlic on the inside.