Thursday, December 15, 2011

Pork and Shrimp Gyoza

What I love about my mom and Jon is their obsession with ethnic food. I used to be really picky, and if it weren’t for them I would have never tried anything new. Papa Bear Bruns loves Cajun and Italian food, of course, so that only aided my food bias. But when my mom would only cook with ingredients like curry or soy vay, I had to get over that pickiness pretty quickly. Creole/Cajun cuisine will always be my favorite (apart from dessert), but thanks to Mom and Jon, Thai and Japanese definitively hold a new place in my heart.  

The only problem with cooking Asian food is the complete lack of necessary ingredients in your everyday grocery store. Gyoza skins? Wonton wrappers? Chili garlic paste? Forget about it!  No, these ingredients can only be found in your local international or Asian food market that looks kinda dirty and is run by a small old lady who barely speaks English and only takes cash. These places are so much fun to go to though because you never know what you are going to find. And not to mention cheap! I bought a bag of almond flour (what you use to make macaroons) for $5!! It’s $15 at whole foods! My mom took me to this place literally in the middle of nowhere (aka by the airport somewhere) and they had an amazing assortment of noodles and rices. I’ve been dying to make an authentic homemade Pad Thai, but I went there for the gyoza skins and that is what I left with.

I’ve been waiting 3 months since I bought those gyoza skins. I got them with my mom over the summer, but there just wasn’t enough time to make dumplings between leaving work and getting ready for school. Fortunately they last forever in the freezer, so when we cracked them open they were as if I bought them yesterday. I also thought this recipe was going to be so much harder than it was. Finding the ingredients was harder than the actual cooking. Restaurant dumplings are amazing so I just didn’t think I was going to be able to achieve that level of delicious. I can’t believe how wrong I was! No, they were not as perfect or pretty as restaurant quality dumps, but they were definitely as good. The crispy edge was killer and they cooked really quickly too. If you are willing to do a little hunting for the ingredients, I definitely suggest giving these a try because the finished product is immensely satisfying (especially when you have so little faith in yourself to begin with!). 

This recipe was adapted from a blog called Former Chef. Some adjustments were made do to taste preferences and ingredient substitutions. 

Pork and Shrimp Gyoza
(Also known as Dumplings or Pot Stickers)

2 cups finely chopped bok choy
½  tsp + ¼ tsp salt
2 cloves garlic, chopped fine
1 tsp.  fresh ginger, grated
2 Tablespoons green onions, finely chopped
6 oz ground pork
5 oz chopped, cleaned and diced shrimp (about 6 shrimp)
¼ tsp sugar
½  tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 ½ Tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon Seasoned Rice Vinegar

Dipping Sauce Ingredients
4 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp rice vinegar, unseasoned
1 tsp chili garlic sauce

Chop the bok choy and put it in a separate bowl along with ½ teaspoon of course salt. (I should have soaked it in ice water to clean it off first but it isn’t life or death if you don’t) Let it sit for about 15 minutes so the excess moisture is released. When is ready to use, squeeze out the excess water from the bok choy with your hands. This should reduce to about ½ cup.

In a large bowl, combined the pork, shrimp, bok choy, green onions, ginger and garlic and mix with your hands so all of the ingredients are completely incorporated. 

In a smaller bowl, combined the salt, sugar, pepper, seasoned rice vinegar, and soy sauce. Stir it up and then pour it on top of the shrimp/pork mixture. Mix it all together with a spoon (or with your hands)

Have a small glass of water next to you as you prepare your dumplings. Dip your fingers in the water and wet the outer rim of the gyoza wrapper. Scoop a little less than a tablespoon of the meat mixture and place it in the center of the skin. Fold it over and firming press along the rim, making sure there is no air left inside of the wrapper. You can do the fancy crimped edge, but I found that after they were steamed, you could barely tell which ones were crimped and which weren’t (they tasted exactly the same)

In a hot wok or sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon of canola oil. Place the dumplings in the wok and let them cook for about 2 minutes or until the bottoms look nice and crispy. Then carefully pour less than ¼ cup of water into the wok and cover with a lid to steam and finish cooking the gyoza. Do this for about 6 minutes or until most of the water is gone. If there is still a lot of water but your dumplings look finished, pour out the excess water and cook them for about a minute longer to re-crisp so they don’t get soggy.

Serve immediately.

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