Oh yes, I thought it was time to tempt you back into the kitchen with an easy but incredibly scrumptious recipe that also presents well. But first let me apologize for being a little late in posting, and also for having switched down the rhythm to one post per week, at least for a little while.
I love blogging, and I would post every day if it made sense: that is, if my posts were not so work-intense to produce, and if you had the time to read them all. You know how they say about Virgos being perfectionists? It is true, at least in my case. I have tried to compromise, but it does not work well for me, at least not with my work. I am not saying that what I do is perfect at all, just that I cannot put something out there unless I am happy with it. Actually, this is bringing on a mini sidebar here, as I wonder: would you be interested in a blog post describing all the steps that go into creating one of mine? If you are, let me know in the comments.
I am also working on several hefty “have-to” projects that I both need and want to complete within the next couple of months. They are the kind that cannot be avoided and that only I can do. Two are also under deadline, one being, indeed, tax filing. But let us not go there and get us all bored.
Let us focus instead on one of my favorite dishes: gyoza, or potstickers, or dumplings… However you want to call them, I love them all – unless they have chicken in them. Wink-wink!
I still remember the first time I tasted gyoza. It was years ago, in a little home-cooking Japanese restaurant in Düsseldorf, Germany, where I lived for five years in a previous life of mine. They were the traditional with pork, cabbage and ginger, and it was love at first bite.
The ones in this recipe are a result of my Italian background blended with my time in Hawai’i, so very much fusion cuisine. Instead of the usual fillings, I have used some of my favorite ingredients and flavor combinations. Gyoza are pretty much like Italian ravioli, just cooked in a different way: once you start playing with possible fillings, you can come up with infinite (or almost) possibilities. But we will start with one, and I hope you will enjoy it.
GYOZA WITH SHRIMP, KABOCHA AND THYME
yields about 20-22 gyoza
- 200 gr. (7 oz.) fresh shrimp – ca 9-10 large tiger shrimp
- 200 gr. (7 0z.) kabocha, peeled, seeded and cut into small cubes (see image above)
- 40 gr. (1.5 oz.) shallots, peeled and finely sliced
- 20-22 gyoza wrappers
- extra-virgin olive oil
- about 2 Tablespoons fresh thyme + extra for garnish
- sea salt
- freshly cracked black pepper
FOR THE SAUCE:
- 3 Tbsp. extra virgin-olive oil
- 3 Tbsp. soy sauce
- juice from a 2-inch piece fresh ginger, grated then squeezed
- 1 large garlic clove, peeled, deveined and crushed
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 cup vegetable broth
About the gyoza/dumpling wrappers: in Hawai’i and in countries with a high Asian influence you can find excellent freshly made wrappers in just about any grocery store. Otherwise, I suggest you look in your local Asian market or specialty food store. If you are gluten intolerant, you can opt for a gluten-free wrapper.
STEP 1 – Heat two Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil in a medium sauté pan, add the garlic and about a teaspoon fresh thyme leaves. When the garlic starts sizzling, add the cubed kabocha, season with salt and pepper, flip or stir, and cook for about a minute or two. You want it only partly cooked. Sprinkle with a little more fresh thyme and set aside to cool completely.
STEP 2 – While the kabocha is cooling, peel and devein the shrimp, cut them in half lengthwise, then cross wise into small pieces (see image further up). Lightly season the shrimp with salt and pepper, then blend with the cooled kabocha.
STEP 3 – Lightly flour a work surface, and prepare a small bowl with iced water. Picking up a gyoza wrapper at a time, place little mounds of shrimp and kabocha filling in their center. Be careful with not overfilling or the gyoza won’t close properly. Test one out and get a sense of what works before doing the rest. Using your fingers or a small pastry brush, brush the outer edges of the wrapper lightly with the iced water, then gently fold the wrapper in half over the filling and press the edges to seal, forming a half moon. Set aside standing up on a tray. Continue with the rest of the wrappers and filling until complete. At this stage you can refrigerate the gyoza until ready to cook. If all the ingredients were fresh (not previously frozen) from the start, you can also freeze them for up to two or three months.
STEP 4 – Heat about 2-3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil in a large sauté pan. Carefully place the gyoza standing up in the pan without crowding them and let cook for a couple of minutes on high heat. Lower the heat and add about 1/2 cup of warm water – be careful, it will sizzle and steam – and cover with a lid. Cook for another 10 minutes or until all the water has been absorbed and the wrappers are translucent and tender to the touch. Uncover and let cook for another minute or two until crisped on the bottom. You can do this in two stages if there are too many for your pan. Transfer to a serving place and serve hot drizzled with a little sauce and a sprinkling of fresh thyme leaves
A light salad makes for a nice side, if you like.
In a small saucepan, heat the three tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil with the crushed garlic clove. As it starts simmering, add the soy sauce and juice from the freshly grated ginger. Then add the sugar and cook for a couple of minutes. Finally add the vegetable broth and simmer until reduced and lightly thickened, then strain through a fine sieve. As you can tell, the sauce is a variation on the classic Japanese Teriyaki sauce, which is a favorite of mine.
These gyoza are excellent also served without the sauce, so I will leave that up to you.
I cannot offer you more step-by-step images for this recipe at this time because I created and photographed it about four years ago, while still living in Hawai’i, and intending the recipe for the cookbook, in which I was not going to include step-by-step photos. I may add them later, as I recreate this favorite recipe. In the meantime, if this is your first time making gyoza, here is a short but comprehensive video with various techniques on how to seal dumplings.
I hope you will love this recipe as much as I do. If you are going to make it, I would love to know how you enjoyed it. I don’t know about you, but I am hungry now, and guess what I am craving?