Prairie View

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Gyoza Meal

This post is about an event Hiromi and I hosted Wednesday night at our church kitchen.  Our small group from church were the guests--working guests.  It's full of details, so consider yourself warned--in case you're averse to such details.

The main event was preparing and consuming gyoza, the name for the Japanese dumplings we always eat on New Year's Day and at other times.  Preparation requires a lot of handwork, so we really needed the help that was offered us--after we asked for it, actually--full disclosure here.

Our church kitchen is still relatively new, and the large central island was a perfect work station for a dozen or more people to work on the same project at the same time.

We cooked the gyoza in an electric skillet at each of four different tables, at which the guests were seated.  The skillets were fired up after prayer.  We remembered our pastors who are in India right now--Lowell among them--on his birthday. 

Besides the gyoza, people had brought in cooked rice and prepared leafy vegetable salads,  minus the dressing. 

Chinese cabbage is one of the main gyoza ingredients.  What we used came from our garden.  Bulk sausage is another main ingredient.  We're fortunate enough to have two pork producers in our small group--Jordan Nisly and Oren Yoder's family.  Since Jordan's ready supply of sausage was temporarily depleted, we used Oren's.  It may have been produced on Shane's farm, where I grew up.  The gyoza skins (very simple flat three inch dough circles made of flour and water) came ready-made from an Asian grocery store in Wichita.  Nelson and Hannah picked them up several days before when they went to Wichita for another purpose.  We also used a few wonton skins/wrappers from Dillons in Hutch--to  make the qyoza filling and the skins come out even.  These are about the same size, but square, and containing eggs and other ingredients besides flour and water.  They worked OK too, despite my fears that the thinner skins would tear in the frying pan.

The rest of the ingredients came from Walmart and from our supply at home.  Miso paste, rice vinegar, soy sauce, and sesame oil (made from toasted seeds) are things we always keep on hand.  The miso salad dressing we served looked like thin peanut butter and tasted quite lively by itself.  We could have used more salad and more dressing. 

The gyoza (dumplings) are first fried on both sides in sesame oil.  Then a bit of water is added and, with a tight-fitting lid in place, the steam finishes cooking the gyoza.  Each person has a small bowl of dipping sauce in which the gyoza are dipped before eating with plain rice. 

The salad as a side dish was our idea--not a standard Japanese meal ingredient.  We did also serve kimchee, Korea's most famous pickled vegetable, but it's very popular in Japan as well.  The Chinese cabbage for the kimchee came from our garden also.  Hiromi makes our kimchee in a short fermentation process--not unlike sauerkraut (on steroids, as James put it).  In Korea, the process can be many months long, with the container buried underground for the duration. 

Hiromi had done almost all the preparation ahead of the event at home, except for the assembly of the gyoza.  I had assembled recipes and made grocery and supplies lists and prepared and distributed information and invitations beforehand.  When I got home from school, I consulted the lists of things to take to church and helped gather and load those, and we were off.  Others arrived around 6:00 and we started eating around 7:00.  Hiromi paid for the sausage and the gyoza skins, It was a fun evening--the kind that we could not possibly have pulled off without a lot of help. 

One milestone for this gathering is that it was the first time that Titus and Sheri's brand new baby, Kayden Tate, has been present at our small group gathering.  LaVon and Twila's family could not attend because a number of them were sick.  Crist was sick too, and Mae stayed home with him.  Amos and Anne no longer go away much in the evening, so they were absent also.  Present were more than a half dozen strapping young men with big appetites. 

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For my own records especially, I'm posting the gyoza meal recipes and notes below:

Gyoza

1 lb. loose sausage
2 c. finely chopped Chinese cabbage
½ c. green onion, finely sliced–including tops
1 T. grated ginger root
2 t. sesame oil (made from toasted seeds)
½ t. salt
1 ½  t. soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, chopped or pressed

Gyoza wrappers (This meat mixture will probably make about 1 ½ pack–75 in a pack.)

Chop Chinese cabbage and mix with salt.  Allow to rest and then drain off liquid before measuring and mixing with other ingredients.

Combine all meat, vegetables, and seasonings. 

Place one rounded teaspoon (or as much as the wrapper will hold) in the center of each wrapper.  Moisten the edge of the wrapper with water.  Fold the wrapper in half and pinch the edges together.
Place assembled gyoza on parchment paper while they wait.  They will stick to almost anything else.
 Brown in dark sesame oil.  After second side is browned, put a small amount (about ½ cup?) of water in the pan with the gyoza and cover it immediately.  Let it steam until all the water cooks away and the steam is gone.

Serve with a sauce and eat with rice.

We made four batches of filling and filled about 400 skins/wrappers (for 32 people in our small group).

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Gyoza Sauce Recipe

½ c. soy sauce
1/4 c. rice vinegar
4 t. sesame oil
2-4 drops “hot” oil*
2 cloves garlic, minced

Yield: about 2/3 cup.

*Sesame oil to which powdered hot pepper has been added.

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Miso Salad Dressing

1 rounded tablespoon white or yellow miso*
1 tablespoon seasoned rice vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
½ teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 small garlic clove; pressed, minced or put through a press
Pinch of cayenne
2 tablespoons dark sesame oil
2 tablespoons peanut oil or grapeseed oil (will use light sesame oil instead)
2 tablespoons plain low-fat yogurt (can substitute sour cream)

Combine the miso, vinegar, and lime juice in a small bowl and whisk together. Add the remaining ingredients and whisk until amalgamated. You can also mix this in a blender.
Toss with the salad of your choice.

Yield: ½ cup

*White and yellow miso are less salty than red miso.

Notes: 

1.  Instead of a small bowl for mixing, a pint jar with a lid will also work.

2.  Shaking the jar might work almost as well as whisking.

3.  I used ReaLime.

4.  We made four batches of dressing, and used about 3/4 of it for 32 people who ate at the tables. 

5.  Seasoned rice vinegar has sugar and salt added–in ratios that are good with vegetables.

3 Comments:

  • I've been thinking that you could have a side hustle here, hosting these dinners. People would pay you to set up the event like you did for us and it would be so good!!!! You could offer other Japanese foods that could be a shared dining experience as well. Family gatherings, company Christmas dinners, just for fun dinners, etc. I'm doing the dreaming for you. :) Retirement sideline? Jo

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11/11/2017  

  • Jo, thanks for sharing the dream! There are indeed other Japanese dishes that could work as shared dining experiences. Hiromi used to dream of having his own restaurant, and he's really good at making things happen that require attention to detail. He's at his best when he's serving others in a social setting. So all that would mesh with what you suggest.

    I've been doing some dreaming for you (and others) as well. It has to do with that empty (but fully furnished) restaurant in Partridge. Why couldn't various families move in for one day a week and provide food for whoever comes? The menu could be different each day (except perhaps for standard fare like hamburgers), depending on the specialties of those who provide the food, or depending on the season, or whatever . . . Families could choose how long to be open--either from early to late, or for lunch or dinner only--the same every week.

    Obviously, this would require the building owner to share the vision.

    I would hope that it could be a side hustle for a number of different families--many of whom have the ideal of having the family working together to make a living. Also, it could mesh well with several other endeavors--like farming, dairying, and gardening--in that what is produced on the farm could be marketed directly to the consumer (I know that some regulations would apply, however, especially for dairy products.) I've thought for years that people ought to think of diversifying their income streams, both to keep life more interesting and to avoid having to "go big" in one thing only, in order to make sufficient income to support a family. My sense is that, while economy of scale has some validity, it often tops out long before we figure out that what is happening is that many new inefficiencies are introduced when things are scaled up.

    By Blogger Mrs. I (Miriam Iwashige), at 11/12/2017  

  • I feel it's a little late for that dream to work for me. I love preparing food for guests, and enjoyed the little catering our family did over the years when we could all work together. But now they've all gone their ways and that is too big a job for me to do on my own. Your idea of families working together to diversify is a good one, and probably the only way smaller farms will survive. Also your comment about Hiromi being at his best serving in a social setting is quite evident. I enjoy seeing how alive he is when he's sharing his food/culture. Japanese food at the Partridge Cafe? Why not? Sounds like a win to me. Maybe one or two night a month to start with... Jo

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11/12/2017  

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