The first time I had gyoza was at a Ringer Hut in Fukuoka. Served as a side dish to champon noodles, these pork and veggie dumplings were a revelation to me at the tender age of 7. Dipping these thinly wrapped pot stickers into a soy, vinegar and chili oil dip, became an obsession. We must have gone back to that restaurant at least a dozen times that summer since my brother (who's still as obsessed with them as I am) and I couldn't stop asking for more and more gyoza. To this day, these fluffy pillowy pockets of perfection are a snack I frequently crave to eat.
Here in New York, after eating at many different ramen and other noodle shop establishments, I found 2 really good spots for gyoza: Hide-chan Ramen and Menkui tei, both located in midtown. Crispy on the outside while tender and moist on the inside, with a wrapper that's delicate and thin, their gyoza are to die for.
But when I want gyoza at home, I buy them frozen. The first time I bought frozen gyoza I was skeptical; will they be any good? My first attempt at frying them was somewhat mediocre. The edges came out a little dry while the middle part was mushy and sticky. Still, I was happy to be able to eat them at home and I made it my mission to learn to pan fry gyoza really well. It took a few failed attempts but I eventually got the hang of it and found a way that works like a charm every single time.
Here's how I do it:
The brand I buy is Ajinomoto Pork and Chicken Gyoza:
The trick is to wait until the pan is really hot, add 1 tbsp oil, coat the pan really well and lay each dumpling facing up, while still frozen. I use a timer and set it to 4 minutes. Check on the gyoza once in a while to make sure they're not sticking to the pan. When the bottoms are brown and crispy, turn them to the side, add just under 1/4 cup of water, put a lid on the pan and fry for another 3 minutes. Then turn them again on the other side for a minute. Serve.
For the dipping sauce I buy pre-made gyoza sauce and mix it with chili oil.
I'm sure I'll try my hand at making gyoza from scratch one day in the future, but for now I'll stick to the frozen ones since they do the trick at satisfying my craving.