Gyoza, for those who aren’t familiar, are Japanese pork dumplings that you either pan-fry, deep-fry, or steam. And they’re one of the OGs in my kitchen. My older sister first introduced me to these little flavor bombs when I was in middle school, and I’ve been in love ever since. After Myles and I got married, they became such a frequent request that I eventually started making giant batches to keep in the freezer. Some of the ingredients aren’t usually what I have on hand. And well, like the tamales, they’re incredibly tedious.
Gyoza are definitely a do-on-your-day-off project. If you’re making your own wrappers, they’re a two-day-off project– but we’re not going to be that extra for this recipe. The pre-made wrappers are sold at most grocery stores, there’s usually no crazy ingredients (they’re extremely simplistic), and they make life about 1000x easier. If you can’t find any round wrappers though, you can buy square wonton wrappers and use a round cookie cutter to punch them out.
These also happen to be one of the meals that freeze the best. Like in the tamale post, the food I used in the pictures was actually out of the freezer. The main difference is that you do not precook the gyoza before freezing. If you fry them before freezing, you’ll lose the crispness when you reheat. And if you steam them before freezing, they’ll end up goopy and probably won’t hold together–the wrappers are just a little too delicate. It’s also important to keep in mind that you MUST freeze the gyoza separately on trays (lined with parchment or wax paper), before moving them to their permanent storage container. These wrappers are incredibly sticky, when exposed to moisture. If you throw them together in a tupperware to freeze, you’ll end up with gyoza casserole.
Japanese Gyoza for Meal Prep
2 pkgs. round qyoza wrappers/skins (50 ct.)
1 lb. ground pork
A medium sized head of green cabbage
1 bunch scallions
1 t grated ginger (or powdered)
5 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 t sesame oil
2 t salt
1/2 t granulated sugar
1/2 t ground black or cayenne pepper
For the filling:
Cut cabbage head into large chunks, discarding the tough core. Finely mince the cabbage either by hand or in a food processor, then add to a very large mixing bowl. Wash and trim the ends of your scallions, then finely mince them and add them to the bowl. Add the ginger, garlic, sesame oil, 1 t salt, sugar and pepper to the bowl. Add the ground pork, and then use your (clean) hands to thoroughly mix all ingredients together. It should be a fairly moist mixture, but it should hold together when pressed. Test the flavor of the filling by putting a spoonful into a small bowl and microwaving about 30 seconds, or until fully cooked. Taste and adjust as needed, adding the rest of the salt if desired.
Line a large tray with baking parchment or wax paper. Fill a small bowl with cool water. Take your wrappers out of the package a few at a time (leave most of them in the package so they don’t dry out, especially if you’re working slowly). Place one wrapper on the lined tray. Take about 1 tablespoon of filling and place it in the center of your wrapper. Dip your finger in the water bowl, and use it to draw a half-circle of water on the edge of one half of the gyoza wrapper. Then fold over the dry half and pinch in the middle to seal. Then, working with the dry half of the wrapper pinch small folds (about three on each side), then press them to the wet side of the wrapper until the dumpling is fully sealed. Repeat this until all ingredients are used.
Set aside all dumplings to be cooked immediately. Next, place the lined tray(s) full of dumplings into the freezer, making sure that none are touching. Freeze until solid, then move to storage containers and keep in freezer.
Fresh dumplings: Heat a skillet to medium-high heat and add a neutral oil. Arrange dumplings in the skillet, pleated side up and fry about 3-4 minutes or until golden on the base. Then add 1/3 c. water and cover immediately. Let the gyoza steam in the covered skillet about 15 minutes. Remove lid and continue to cook until water is evaporated. If the bases of the dumplings are getting too browned, simply flip them to their back sides (you’ll end up with two crispy sides– but there’s nothing wrong with that!). Dumpling should be at least 145 F. when cooked.
From freezer: Take desired amount of dumplings from freezer container, and arrange on a plate to thaw. Let them thaw in the refrigerator at least two hours, or microwave for 30 seconds-1 minute. Then follow the steps for fresh dumplings.