Tuesday, May 22, 2012

How to Fry Dumplings or How to Make Gyozas

Gyozas are such delicate appetizers in Asian restaurants in the US. They always come in a small plate with no more than six. The small serving makes me crave for more gyozas...give me....give me more! What I forgot over the years is that gyozas are just leftover dumplings. My mom used to make hundreds of dumplings before Chinese New Year. What we don't finish on New Year's eve are pan-fried and served along other leftover foods.

A little history here on why some Chinese people eat dumplings for New Year. Flour-based dishes like noodle, pancakes, buns, and dumplings are part of Northern China's diet because no rice field can be cultivated in cold weather. A Southerner's diet would be rice because of the humidity and abundance of water source. My mom coming from northern part of China makes dumplings that shape like gold nuggets in the ancient times. The more dumplings you eat the more wealthy you will be in the coming in.

Along with the tradition of eating dumplings is randomly fold in a special filling into the dumplings. If you are the lucky one and chose the dumpling with a coin, then you will (again) be wealthy in the coming year. The Chinese are such money hoarders sometimes. If you get the dumpling with a date, you will have a baby girl; in addition, if you get a peanut in the dumpling, you will have a baby boy. The greater meaning here is that the more kids you have the more hands there are to make money, which further reinforces the importance of wealth in Chinese culture. All these fillings with their meanings are very yesterday traditions. Not a lot of people continued this tradition, and even if they do, whatever filling you get just symbolize good luck!

So back to gyozas. I was scared of gyozas as a kid. Imagine if you over stuff your stomach with over twenty dumplings hoping to find one lucky dumpling then seeing more of that stuff the next morning, yikes! Old people are really smart though. They know you wouldn't want to eat anymore boiled dumplings, so they fry them instead!

Today I want to share with you a quick tip on making your own gyoza. You need some drinking water, some frozen gyozas, a frying pan, and some oil.

First heat your frying pan on low heat. When the pan is hot, spray a thin layer of oil or brush a layer of oil.

Wait till the oil is hot before you put the frozen dumplings down. Don't worry about the dumplings not cooking through because we're defrosting the dumplings in hot oil.

Wait for about 4-5 minutes and make sure that the fire is small to medium and that the bottom of the dumplings aren't burnt.

Lift a dumpling up to see if the skin is see through with a bit of yellow crust. If not, continue cooking. If so, get the frying pan's lid ready.

Pour just enough water to cover the frying pan and put down the lid immediately. Don't lift up the lid, this will let the steam escape.

You will see a lot of water droplets on the lid. Just be patient and wait till all water have evaporated.

Lift the lid up and flip the dumplings to other sides. Then fry them on all sides till the crust is gold.

Place onto plate and enjoy with some soy sauce, vinegar, hot sauce, or ketchup!

Here's how the cooking process look like:
frozen dumpling in hot oil on low-medium heat

add a small amount of water and steam with the lid on

the crust is crispy and the filling mellow

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