Day 11: Gyoza
These precious little bundles of dumpling goodness originally came from China many centuries ago but have been appropriated into Japanese cuisine and called gyoza. (The name uses the same characters as the Chinese word but is pronounced differently.)
Although the ingredients inside the dumplings can vary based on restaurant or region, the standard filling is a combination of minced pork, cabbage, chives, garlic and ginger. In fact, the Japanese variety can normally be differentiated from its Chinese original because it’s got a lot more garlic in it.
The gyoza are normally dipped in a vinegar-soy sauce before being eaten, which helps offset all that garlic inside it. The Japanese version of the dumplings are also normally lightly flavoured with soy and salt, so the combination with the sauce works well together.
Gyoza tend not to be eaten as a full meal in Japan. They are commonly eaten as a starter or a side dish at noodle restaurants – or as a snack to go along with some beer or sake drinking. It’s a pity because they’re so tasty I sometimes think I could eat a whole plate of them for dinner!
These ones are from a noodle bar in the city of Kawasaki, an hour south of Tokyo. For five dumplings it cost 350 yen (US$3.55) and they went perfectly with the bowl of soupy ramen I had with them.
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