Two months ago, we had a small CNY pot-luck reunion with some closed friends. The pot-luck was decided at the eleventh hour as we had planned to dine at a restaurant, hoping for a larger turnout. Since most of the invited friends had scheduled prior appointments with their families and friends for separate reunions, the planned quorum dwindled further.
Then one of the girls suggested meeting up for a simple pot-luck reunion at her house. The rest of us were thrilled because the lady-of-the-house is a fantastic cook and I kid you not! Not only that, she is a Jane of all trades and ‘master’ of all, which completely defies the figure of speech, “Jack of all trades, master of none.”
As you can see from the photo collage, we were well fed with simple, purely homemade yet fantastically delicious dishes! The lady-of-the-house made the absolutely delicious Yee Sang (Prosperity Toss) and tasty Pan Mee (with noodles she made from scratch!). She also baked a flawless pandan chiffon cake, almond/ cashew cookies, chocolate mousse and kueh sepit (not in photo). I brought my signature dish, Ngo Hiang. My friends, X, brought a meringue cake and C brought a bowl of minced mix ingredients and a packet of frozen gyoza wrappers or gyoza skins.
It was the last item that ‘pushed’ me to write this post. Thanks, C for “reminding” me ;-)
By the way, it was a good thing that C did not bring pre-wrapped gyoza‘s. That way, we all had the opportunity to learn first hand crimping of the gyoza’s from … who else? The lady-of-the-house herself!
Not the First and Definitely not the Last
This was not the first time I have cooked a dish that turned out into something else quite differently but completely edible, like so …
Making yaki gyoza or guo tie or wo tieh or potstickers has been at the back of my mind for a long, long time. The origin of this dish is Chinese. In China, they are called jiaozi. The Japanese word gyōza indicates that the word is of non-Japanese origin and was derived from the Shandong Chinese dialect giaozi. There’s 2-in-1-method of cooking gyoza. First they are shallow fried with a small amount of sesame oil in a hot pan or wok until brown crusts appear on the flat base, and then a small amount of water (or cornstarch mixture) is poured over the dumplings, with the pan or wok covered. The liquid helps to steam the dumplings, creating a texture contrast of the thin crispy bottom and soft and juicy upper part, typical of Chinese cuisine.
Why I chose to use the word gyoza is because the ingredients I used as filling were more Japanese than Chinese. I’m also referring to them as potstickers, because it’s an English word and a lot easier to pronounce. Anyway, “pot stick” is the literal translation from the Chinese word guōtiē.
I have made a calamitous error when purchasing the gyoza skins or wrappers. I knew the wrappers should be round and not square. The square ones are used for making Wonton. Without reading the label, I placed the round dumpling wrappers in my shopping basket. I was a happy bunny that day.
I’m gonna make potstickers!! Yay!
My sons were looking forward to the tasty finger food. They were thrilled and couldn’t wait for the end result!
BUT wait a sec … there’s a difference in the thickness of the wrappers! Gyoza skins are generally thicker than the delicate wonton skins, hence, making them more suitable for frying. It was a shame I bought the thinner and delicate dumpling skins used for wrapping sio bee or siu mai (popularly served at dim sum restaurants).
Hmmmm….. I had already marinated a bowl of minced filling for the gyoza. There was no turning back. The show must go on!
Splashing Plan B !
With the flopped original plan of making gyoza or potstickers, I told my clearly disappointed looking boys that there was not going to be any dry finger-food-type gyoza but a wet and soupy dumpling soup! If only you had seen their faces and heard their remarks …
I told myself that if the Potstickers won’t stick then I had to transform the dish into something equally appetising, hence, Plan B was put into action :-)
Yup, a splashing runny dumpling soup!
- 300g minced chicken
- Napa cabbage, thinly shredded
- 1/2 Leek, finely diced (or 2-3 spring onions)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 cm Ginger, finely grated
- 1/2 Carrot, grated
- 5 cm Daikon, grated
- 2 Tbsp sesame oil
- 2 Tbsp sushi and sashimi soy sauce
- 2 tsp Thai spicy fish powder ( in lieu of bonito powder)
- 1 Tbsp Shaoxing wine ( in lieu of mirin)
- 1 Tbsp corn flour
- Freshly milled white pepper
- Salt, to taste
1 packet (250g) Round dumpling skins
For the broth –
- 1 big carrot, washed and cut in very thin rounds
- 2 stalks celery, washed and remove stringy outer layer
- 2 stalks lemongrass, bruised
- 3 cm ginger, bruised
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 red chilli (optional)
- Sesame oil
- Shaoxing wine
- Dried Coriander (I did not have fresh coriander that day)
- 1/2 a chicken stock cube
- Coarse Sea Salt to taste
- Freshly milled white pepper to taste
- 1.7L Water, boiled in electric kettle
- Water, boiled for cooking the dumplings
- Mix all the ingredients together and refrigerate for at least one hour
- Remove the minced mix at least 15 to 30 mins before starting to wrap the dumplings
- In a soup pot, throw in the cut carrots, celery, 2 cloves garlic, ginger, lemongrass, coriander and chilli. Pour in the boiling water into the pot. At this point, you can smell the fragrance and aroma of the herbs and vegetables whiffing past your nostrils
- Season the broth with sesame oil, Shaoxing wine, salt and white pepper
- Cook the broth further until boiled
- In another pot, boil enough water to cook the dumplings per serving. Note: this water is NOT the broth for consumption, but just to cook through the dumplings separately.
- Ready to serve. Place 8 to 10 pieces of dumplings in the hot water. The dumplings are cooked when they start floating to the surface. Scoop the dumplings, removing as much water as possible to a serving bowl. Then scoop the broth picking up some carrots, celery, chillies and coriander and transfer to the serving bowl.
Verdict: Without a word said, my boys slurped their bowls of dumpling soup clean. I think that’s translated as “Thumbs UP” :-)
Be warned, though, of the spicy filling (spicy fish powder) and the extra chilli in the broth. The extra garlicky flavour differentiates the Gyoza soup with a twist from the milder wonton soup. I will definitely make these again ;-)
Have a great weekend!