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So, it’s been four months since I’ve posted anything, at least ‘round these parts. I did a couple of guest posts for a friend’s blog, but I haven’t been able to find the time to come up with anything for myself.

I’ve been busy. Like, really busy. In addition to my regular gig at work, the school also hosted two pop-up restaurant nights for a new local ramen business starting . That was just fun. A whole lot of fun. Great folks, fantastic food, and a warm, fuzzy feeling from helping friends get one step closer to their dream.

I also had to break out mah skillz for the holidays, cooking up a 20 pound turkey and all the fixin’s for Christmas, and churning out a spread for Japanese New Year that would feed an army of sumo.

That last bit segues nicely into today’s subject: gyoza. These beautiful little pouches of happiness can be found on the menus of nearly every Japanese restaurant on the planet. Every restaurant has their own version; mine is the result of years of research and experimentation. I’ve added ingredients, removed ingredients, altered quantities, and just plain messed around with it until it’s reached the point where I’m happy with it.

In the last Japanese class I taught, gyoza were the favorite item on the menu, which kind of surprised me, considering some of the other dishes I broke out, but in the end, all that is important is that the customers are happy.

In any case, without further ado….

3 cups green cabbage, shredded
1/2 tsp salt
1 lb ground pork
2 green onions, minced
3 cloves garlic, grated
1 piece ginger, grated
2 dried shiitake mushrooms
2 tsp aka (red) miso
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1/4 tsp sugar
wonton wrappers

Shred cabbage and combine with salt in a large bowl. Leave for ten minutes, then squeeze handfuls of cabbage, removing most of the water. Using a microplane, grate the shiitake into another bowl, then the cabbage and the rest of the ingredients and mix everything together with your hands until well combined.

Place about 1 tsp of mixture on to wonton wrapper. In a small bowl, make a paste with cornstarch and water, and use the paste to wet the edges of the wonton wrapper. Pull the edges of the wrapper towards the center, and pleat into a half moon shape.

Heat oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add gyoza and sauté until the bottoms are brown. Add water to the gyoza about 1/4 of the way up. Cover tightly and cook about 6 minutes, or until the water is completely gone. Continue to cook uncovered for another minute or so to crisp the bottom. Serve with sauce.
Gyoza can be served with a variety of dipping sauces; like the dumplings themselves, every joint has their own version. The most popular choice is usually rayu, or chili oil, but I came up with something I like a little more:

3 tbsp shoyu
1 tbsp sake
3 tbsp vinegar
1 tsp tobanjan

Mix everything together and serve.