Ever since I discovered momos in the Tibetan market outside NID I’ve been in love with dumplings. My accomplice for many a day of heartbreak, joy, depression, hope and a part of the most important lesson I learnt in life – solitude. There’s something just so comforting about dumplings.
In my book, a good momo is one where you bite into the thin, almost transparent outer skin and it bursts open to flood your mouth with savoury, umami filled juices before the tender minced meat and delicate covering on the momo melts into your mouth. The filling should be cooked through but not chewy, and have the right amount of aromatics to add flavour but not overwhelm the meat. The tibetans outside Ahmedabad would serve the moms with a beautiful clear chicken broth for each dumpling to by dipped in, rendering it even more juicy and moist. They were accompanied by a beautiful fiery red chilli-garlic sauce that would smear your mouth in red and light your tongue on fire. Those momos were so light and satisfying that I’ve had unto 18 in one sitting!
Like all things nostalgic, momos don’t taste the same to me anymore. And I’ve never again seen them served with broth. The next time I had fantastic dumplings was (predictably) on our trip to Japan. And that’s how I discovered gyoza. The fact that they were panfried had me skeptical but as I watched the women deftly rolling out the skin with one hand and then pan frying the gyozas before steaming them with a bit of water in the same pan, I knew the Japs would of course get this right too. The filling was a surprise too. As opposed to the only meat/prawn versions of dumplings I had had, the gyoza had almost as much cabbage as the meat and the vegetable added a lovely crunchy chewiness that made perfect sense. Healthy too! Damn those Japanese!
Perhaps it’s that I’ve been thinking of visiting NID this winter but discovering a little restaurant called Hungry Panda in Seven Bungalows last week sent me toppling into another dumpling phase. I liked their plump juicy momos enough but decided I needed to make my own. And then when I ran into gyoza skin while christmas shopping at Nature’s Basket, it started to make perfect sense. It was time!!
This is a super easy (if you have the wrapper ready) meal that is as delicious as it is healthy and soul satisfying. The dipping sauce is my own but lovely even though I say so myself. Make your own wrapper or grab a packet from Natures Basket, I promise you will love this recipe.
(Makes about 40 depending on how thick/thin you make it)
Over time I’ve learned two tricks that can help you get that super thin melting skin for dishes like gyozas and even baklava – boiling hot water to knead the dough and cornflour (cornstarch) to roll it out. If you are like me and into kitchen projects, you will love making your own. If not, there’s always Natures Basket.
- All purpose flour – 2 cups (240gms)
- Salt – 1/2 tsp
- Boiling water – 1/2 cup and a couple tablespoons more incase you need it * cornflour for dusting
- A 8cm round cutter/bowl/bottle cap for cutting the dough into perfect shape.
- Start with sifting the flour into a kneading bowl and whisk in the salt into the boiling water. Pour the boiling water into the bowl and stir well with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula.
- The dough should have started clumping together and further mixing will have it start shaping into a ball. Incase you need more water, add a teaspoonful at a time till you have a ball.
- Let the ball sit in the ball, covered with a damp cloth for an hour.
- Start kneading the dough with your hands and knead till you have a soft, smooth dough (about 10 minutes). 5. Cut the dough into 2 and shape each part into a cylendrical log. Slice the each log with a sharp knife so you have 20 disks. (40 in total)
- Now sprinkle your work surface with cornstarch and start rolling out the disks till they are as thin as you would like them to be. 7. Use the cutter to cut out perfect rounds and stack the wrappers dusting lightly with cornflour as you place each new wrapper on the stack to ensure they don’t stick together.
Making the dumplings
(Serves 4 as a meal)
- Spring Onion – 2
- Cabbage – 4 cups loosely packed
- Garlic – 6 Cloves
- Ginger – 4 cm
- Gyoza Skins – about 40 (make sure they are at room temperature/defrosted)
- Minced Chicken/Pork Meat/skinned and cleaned prawn – 450g
- Toasted Sesame Oil – 3 tsp
- Japanese Soy Sauce – 3 tbsp
- Sesame oil for cooking the gyoza
My dipping sauce:
- Soy Sauce – 3 Tbsp * Lime juice – 1 Tbsp
- 1 chillie, finely chopped
- Brown sugar – 3 tsp or to taste (you could also use honey or palm jaggery as well)
- Warm water – 1/4 cup
- Toasted sesame oil – 2tsp
- Cut the cabbage into wedges, finely chop it and then microwave it till soft. You can also alternately boil the cabbage leaves in water until they are soft, and then drain, mince fine. Finely mince up the garlic, the spring onions and the ginger.
- Add the minced vegetables and the minced pork meat to a bowl, then mix well with the sesame oil and the soy sauce. Your meat and combined vegetables should be more or less equal in volume. Let the mixture marinate for 10 minutes.
- Take a gyoza skin in the palm of your hand and spoon a small amount of the mix into the centre of the skin. Dip your finger or brush in some water and moisten half the edge of the skin. Now fold the skin over to make the edges meet and give you half moon and then press the edges together to seal. Start pleating the edges to secure it and make it look pretty.
- Heat a little oil in a pan that has a lid and place a few gyoza in the pan without overcrowding it. Cook on high heat till the bottom is crisp and golden.
- Now add one third of a cup of water to the pan to half submerge the gyoza, cover and let the Gyoza steam over medium heat till the water has evaporated and the skin cooked. Uncover and cook them a little longer till the bottom crisps up again.
- Combine all the ingredients for the sauce. Correct the balance by adding more sugar to sweeten, soy to add salt and lime juice for tang. The sauce should have a good balance of sweet-salty-tangy.
– I like the idea of filling the gyoza and keep them in the freezer so I have a quick and healthy snack handy when I need it.
– You could also steam the gyoza instead of cooking them this way or poach them in chicken stock to make a nice soup.