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Now that the weather's cooling down, I've been craving Japanese comfort foods like crazy- gyoza, curry rice, omurice and ramen just to name a few. So what better way to celebrate this early autumn weather than to have a gyoza making party? It was a bit chaotic in my small kitchen but I had a great time pinching gyoza wrappers, munching on Japanese snacks and catching up on goings-on with four of my lovely lady friends. Also, just by happenstance everyone had opted to make different types of fillings so there was an array of flavors to choose from come tasting time. For my gyoza attempt, I went with my mom's traditional pork gyoza recipe. They came out great but I still think they taste better when my oka-san (mom) makes them.

Oka-san's Pork Gyoza

Ingredients

2 packages of gyoza wrappers (the round kind)
1 Napa cabbage, de-ribbed and minced
1 lb. ground pork
1 t table salt
1/2 t sugar
2 t sesame oil
1 T freshly grated ginger (use a microplane grater)
2 T green onion (green part only), minced
2 T nira (minced)
5 cloves garlic, finely minced

Instructions

1. Wash, de-rib and mince the cabbage. Place in a colander and sprinkle with salt. Let it sit for about 5-10 minutes.  Firmly squeeze the cabbage to remove any residual water, this keeps the cabbage from becoming soggy during the cooking process.

2. In a large bowl, mix the cabbage, pork, garlic, nira, green onion, ginger, sugar and sesame oil together. Use your hands to really mix it in and work it. Ball it up and throw it against the bowl a few times. This helps to spread the ingredients out and tenderize the meat.

3. At your work station: place a large plate, small bowl of water and a container for the completed gyoza (I used a Pyrex casserole pan).

4. Start with 4 gyoza skins on your plate. Place a tablespoon of filling at the center of each skin. Then wet your index finger and trace the edge of half of the skin. Fold the dry half over the filling, creating a seal.  Pinch the skin in the center and then continue to make pleats down each side or start on one side and work your way across. Don't worry if your first few come out looking like a wolverine chewed on it, it gets easier as it goes.  Here's a great tutorial, if you'd like to perfect your technique.  Gyoza Tutorial

5. Place each completed gyoza in your "done" pan.



6. When complete, you can either freeze them or cook them. If you choose the latter, get a large skillet ready.  Place a teaspoon of oil in the skillet at medium-high heat. Once it's hot, place your gyoza on it (spaced so they're not touching). Cook until the "bottoms" turn brown.

7. Then pour 1/4 cup of water into the skillet (be careful!), cover, lower the heat and allow the gyozas to steam cook.

8. When the water's gone, the skins appear translucent and the meat seems firm, it's done. Remove from the pan and place on a papertowel covered plate.

9. Serve hot with your favorite dipping sauce (mine's : equal parts soy sauce and rice vinegar with a splash of chili oil and sesame oil).
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