Wontons, shumai, ravioli, pierogi, momos, manti…all little pockets off goodness from around the world. At itsu, we have dedicated years to the noble pursuit of making just one type of dumpling: the gyoza.
Dumplings of the world
We wish we could go through every dumpling in the world, but that would take forever. So instead, we’ve listed some of the most famous iterations from around the globe below.
Traditional Polish dumplings made by wrapping unleavened dough around savoury, or sometimes sweet, fillings. Now popular under many names across eastern Europe, the most popular type of pierogi is the Pierogi Ruskie, invented in Poland and filled with cottage cheese, potato and onion.
Over in Italy this type of pasta is typically square, resembling little pillows of mouth-watering fillings. Dating back to the 14th Century, ricotta was just as popular a filling as it is now. Ravioli is not to be confused with tortellini or tortellini which are folded pasta parcels, equally as delicious.
Shumai (also shaomai or siu mai) are most well-known within Cantonese cuisine, where they are a cornerstone of dim sum. Frequently filled with ground pork, shrimp, mushrooms, spring onions & ginger. There are many regional varieties within China, as well as throughout the rest of southeast Asia.
From restaurants to street vendors, Nepalese momos are very popular indeed. These bite-size dumplings are often served with a spicy dipping sauce. The making of momos is a joyful time when family & friends come together [even the children get involved]. They are best enjoyed freshly steamed & piping hot.
A traditional British comfort food, these fluffy balls float over rich stews and are very easy to make. Unlike gyoza, these dumplings aren’t filled but sometimes the dough itself can be flavoured with herbs & spices. A definite winter warmer.
Turkey’s take on the dumpling is usually stuffed with minced meat, garnished with sumac & accompanied by garlic-yoghurt sauce. They tend to be smaller than other dumpling types mentioned so they make a good starter or sharing platter for special occasions.
A flour-based dumpling from Botswana. Unlike most of the above, matlebekwane are not filled with anything. Flour is kneaded with water & yeast then left to rise. The dough is then separated and rolled into little balls and dropped into a boiling meat stew.
Empanadas get their name from the Spanish verb empanar, meaning; to bread. They are made by folding dough around a filling before baking or frying. The most popular fillings are ground beef or chicken.
The history of gyoza
The early history of the gyoza is shrouded in myth and legend. What we do know is that gyoza got their name from the Chinese dumplings; jiaozi. This means that to understand the early history of the gyoza you have travel back to the invention of jioazi, which is when fact becomes theory.
The leading theory goes that jiaozi were invented around 2000 years ago by a doctor called Zhang Zhongjin who created them as a cure for frostbitten ears. He made the jiaozi or jiao’er (meaning “tender ears”) as they were known back then, using lamb and herbs and gave them to his patients along with hot soup.
Fast forward a couple thousand years…jiaozi and gyoza are enjoyed all over the world. They hold a particular significance in China where they represent reunion and prosperity and eaten at midnight on New Year’s Eve.
Types of gyoza
There are many types of gyoza, differentiated by both their filling and the way in which they are cooked. Almost all gyoza are made with a wheat-based dough wrapper and are folded in a ‘half-moon’ or horn shape with a crimped ridge. Apart from these key foundations, it appears anything goes.
The most common way of cooking gyoza in Japan is by pan frying them a little bit of oil and them adding some water and placing a lid over the hot steaming gyoza. This method is called ‘yaki gyoza”.
Another popular method is steaming, in Japan this is called mushi gyoza. This is the healthiest way to eat gyoza as the method requires no oil. You can also simmer them in hot water [sui gyoza] or they can even be deep fried [age gyoza].
When it comes to fillings, the traditional Japanese gyoza contains ground pork and vegetables, usually a mixture of cabbage, chives and spring onions. This is by far the most popular filling, but you can find many alternatives including prawn, chicken, vegetables, hoisin duck & beef. These fillings are often referred to in the name of the gyoza themselves such as ebi gyoza (for shrimp), and yasai gyoza [for vegetables].
How to cook gyoza…
There a quite a few easy ways to cook gyoza, as mentioned above, but we always recommend checking the packaging for best results.
Cooking instructions for 5 gyoza [from frozen]
Place colander/sieve above pan of boiling water.
Place gyoza in colander/sieve, cover with any lid & steam for 8 mins.
Pan cook [authentic Japanese-style]
Pre-heat pan with 1 tsp of oil on low/medium heat.
Add gyoza & cook for 5 mins.
Carefully add 4 tbsp of cold water, cover with any lid & cook for another 5 mins until all the water evaporates.
Add gyoza to pan of softly boiling water.
Simmer for 4 mins then drain.
Place gyoza in microwaveable bowl & cover with cold water.
Microwave for 4 1/2 mins on full power [800W].
Leave to stand for 1 min then drain.
Recipes & Serving Suggestions
Gyoza are most often eaten on their own with a dipping sauce [see our recipe below], however they can also be enjoyed in 100’s of Asian style dishes including rice or noodles bowls, soups & broths, stir-fries and more!
Here are a few of our favourite gyoza dumpling recipes:
quick gyoza stir fry
This is the recipe Gok Wan cooked for us when we shot our gyoza TV ad! Vegan, simple & delicious. The crispy vegetable fusion gyoza really make the dish. Serves 2.
hoisin duck no-pancake
A deconstructed hoisin duck pancake made with our Hoisin duck gyoza, pickled cucumber ribbons and spring onion.
courgetti gyoza salad
Steaming gyoza, tangy Asian dressing and crunchy courgetti… Need we say more? Pan fry the vegetable fusion gyoza for extra crunch
gyoza ramen bowl
flavourful easy mushroom ramen recipe
A hearty & warming vegan ramen bowl made with itsu vegetable fusion gyoza and brilliant’broth. The gyoza soak up the broth, making them eve more delicious!
If you’d like to look at some more gyoza recipes head to the yours & ours [recipes] page.