Now that the rush of writing my first impressions for the Spring 2014 anime season is over, I can finally go back to posting recipes… and this time, I’ve got one that is quite the production to make: vegan gyoza!
Crisp on the outside while soft and juicy on the inside, gyoza is a common food item that is often served as a side dish in ramen and Chinese restaurants all over Japan. With a wonderfully savoury flavour, this popular appetizer is often filled with a mix of minced pork, cabbage, Chinese chives, and garlic, and is generally dipped in soy sauce seasoned with rice vinegar and chilli oil.
In anime, gyoza is frequently seen being eaten in restaurants and bars, both as an accompaniment and as a meal all unto itself. Some series that gyoza makes an appearance in include Natsuyuki Rendesvous, Shirokuma Cafe, and Kyoukai no Kanata, just to name a few.
But, why vegan gyoza? Because I haven’t yet perfected my meat version yet! Expect a post on meat gyoza in the future, but I probably won’t get making any until I eat my way through the ones in my freezer first… And, if you’re writing this recipe off because it doesn’t contain meat, please don’t! These gyoza might be vegan, but they have serious flavour and bite… and are surprisingly “meaty” for something that contains absolutely no meat!
About the recipe:
If you’re tired of eating the same old frozen gyoza and you’re in the mood for something a little different, I would encourage you to try making meat-free gyoza! It’s not the easiest recipe, and it requires a good amount of time to fold all the gyoza, but the results are wonderful and so much better than store bought ones! And, in case you’re worried about eating a whopping 40 gyoza all in one go, fear not: Gyoza freezes wonderfully, so anything you don’t eat can be saved for another day.
The best way to freeze gyoza is to place them on a tray, without them touching each other, and freeze in the freezer. Don’t let the gyoza sit around too long before you pop them in the freezer, however, as the liquid in the filling will gradually make the wrappers soggy. Once frozen, remove from the tray and place into a plastic bag. When eating frozen gyoza, do not defrost them! Just place the frozen gyoza directly into the frying pan and cook them up as usual.
As for the recipe, it’s got a lot of steps, but I think it’s worth it. Between this vegan version and the meat version I am working on, I don’t think I’ll ever buy frozen commercial gyoza again!
About the ingredients:
Firm tofu is used in this recipe to replicate the texture of meat in gyoza. This is done by freezing the tofu, defrosting it, rinsing it in water, squeezing out the water, and crumbling the tofu. When done like this, the tofu seriously resembles cooked ground chicken.
Quinoa is a high protein, gluten-free seed that originates from South America. In recent years, it has become more and more common in all sorts of grocery stores, and I usually find mine in a bulk health food store, or a store like Whole Foods.
Potato starch is used to help retain moisture in the gyoza filling while keeping it dry enough to handle. It should be pretty easy to find in your local specialty grocery store, but if you find you can’t buy it anywhere, cornstarch can be used as a substitute instead.
Makes about 40 gyoza
For the filling:
- 1 package (1 lb) firm tofu, frozen and then defrosted
- 1/2 cup dry quinoa, rinsed and drained well
- 1 cup water
- 200 g cabbage (about 4 leaves), washed
- 6 green onions, minced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp ginger, finely grated
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp sake
- 1 tbsp mirin
- 1 tbsp potato starch
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp white pepper
- 2 dried shiitake, finely grated
- 2 dried shiitake, rehydrated, squeezed of water and minced
- 40 gyoza skins (about one package)
For the dipping sauce:
- Equal parts soy sauce and black or rice vinegar
- Optional: a few drops of chilli oil or sesame oil
Making the filling:
1. Drain the liquid from the defrosted tofu. Rinse gently under cold running water to remove some of the tofu taste. Squeeze as much of the excess water from the tofu as you can. Place into a bowl and, using your fingers, crumble the tofu into small pieces.
2. Cook the quinoa: Place quinoa in a pot with 1 cup of water. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cover the pot and continue simmering for 10 minutes (lower the temperature to low to ensure it does not boil over).
After 10 minutes, drain the water from the quinoa using a fine meshed sieve. Return the quinoa to the pot and, off heat, cover with a lid. Let the quinoa rest for 5 minutes before removing the lid and fluffing it gently with a fork. Let cool, uncovered, until room temperature.
3. Boil the cabbage leaves in water until no longer crisp, about 1 – 2 minutes. Remove from the water and let cool. Shake off the excess water from the leaves and mince.
4. Place the crumbled tofu, cooked quinoa, minced cabbage, and remaining ingredients for the filling into a large bowl. Toss well to combine.
Folding the gyoza:
1. Place about 1 tbsp of filling into the centre of the gyoza wrapper. Brush water along the edges of the wrapper. Bring the two halves of the wrapper close together and pinch one corner to seal it.
Pleat one side of the wrapper, using one hand to hold and guide the pleats and the other hand to fold and push the filling in to prevent it from spilling out.
Press the water-moistened edge together to gently to seal the gyoza as you form the pleats.
2. If you’re not going to cook the gyoza right away, freeze the gyoza by placing folded gyoza on a tray with the pleats pointing up and arranged so they are not touching one another. Place in the freezer until frozen, about 45 minutes. Remove frozen gyoza from the tray and transfer to a freezer-safe bag.
Cooking the gyoza:
1. Heat 2 tbsp vegetable oil in a nonstick frying pan. Add fresh or frozen gyoza in a single layer, pleats pointing up, and cook on medium-high heat until the bottoms begin to turn brown, about 3 – 5 minutes. Add about 1/4 cup water to the pan, being careful of splashing oil. Immediately cover with a lid, and steam gyoza for 2 – 3 minutes.
2. Remove the lid and let the remaining water evaporate. Let the gyoza fry in the remaining oil until the bottoms are brown and crispy. Remove from the pan, plating the gyoza fried side up to preserve the crispiness.
Serve hot as an appetizer or side dish with any meal. Dip in soy sauce and vinegar dipping sauce.
Source: Adapted from No Recipes