I love my children. I really, really do, but every time we order gyoza when we go out and they eat five apiece and I get maybe one, I wonder who died and made them King Lord of Gyoza Dispensation. Everyone who tells you, oh, kids are so sweeeeet, and they make your life so whooooole, they canoodle you, they admire you, yada yada yada forgets to tell you the most important and yet under-acknowledged fact of parenthood: you pretty much have to sacrifice the last cookie, the cake with the tallest crown of frosting, and the best bite of anything even remotely tasty to your kids all the goddamn time until you've turned 90 and croaked in your rocker. And if no one admits that very fact to you, they're lying. Case closed.
I love pouffy, chewy, gingery, porky, scalliony gyoza, and I finally realized, after many years of maternal suffering, that the only way I'd ever get to eat as many as I truly wanted would be to make a ridiculously obscene quantity at home. That way we could all have an unlimited supply.
Even better: I forced my kids to make them themselves.
(insert evil laugh here)
Recipe for Pork Pot Stickers (Gyoza), adapted from Nancie McDermott's Quick & Easy Chinese (Chronicle, 2008) (And look! I recently interviewed Nancie on iVillage here.)
This recipe isn't hard in the least, but it is a bit time-consuming. From personal experience I can guarantee it's not only much more fun but far quicker to enlist unpaid laborers who may be living in your home.
Makes 40 to 45 dumplings
1 pound ground pork
1/4 cup thinly sliced scallion
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup thawed and chopped frozen spinach, squeezed dry
36 round gyoza / won ton wrappers
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup water
Combine first eight ingredients (pork through spinach) in a large bowl and stir to combine well.
Working with no more than two gyoza wrappers at a time (keep the rest covered so they don't dry out), lay the wrappers on a cutting board. Place a small ramekin of water close at hand.
Place 1 rounded teaspoon of pork filling in the center of each wrapper. Dip your index finger in water, then swirl it around the circumference of the wrapper. Fold in half, tucking the filling securely inside, and press the edges to seal. Make a few pleats if you're feeling fancy. Transfer to a baking sheet and keep covered with a tea towel while you prepare the remaining gyoza.
Continue until you've finished filling and folding the dumplings.
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Swirl in oil. Lay twelve filled gyoza in the pan and allow the undersides to brown undisturbed for a few minutes. Scatter the cold water along the edges of the pan, cover tightly, and let gyoza steam for exactly seven minutes. Uncover, and continue cooking one to three minutes longer, or until water has mostly evaporated but before gyoza stick too firmly to the pan. Transfer to a large platter.
Continue pan-frying and steaming gyoza in this fashion until they're all cooked. Serve hot with dipping sauce of your choice.