If you love dumplings, pierogies, and stuffed pasta, you’ve probably heard of gyoza. It’s one of Japan’s bestknown pan-fried dumplings.
Many people mistake dumplings for one specific round dough ball stuffed with meat and vegetables. However, that’s not the case.
Dumplings are a whole food category, and gyoza is a type of dumpling.
Here, let me explain the difference.
The difference between a dumpling and gyoza is that dumplings are a category of dough stuffed with various sweet or savory ingredients like meat and vegetables. Dumplings are most popular in China. Gyoza, however, is a Japanese type of half-moon-shaped steamed and then pan-fried dumplings filled with ground pork and veggies.
In this post we'll cover:
- 1 Dumplings and gyoza explained
- 2 What’s the difference between gyoza and dumplings?
- 3 Chinese vs. Japanese dumplings
- 4 Different types of dumplings
- 5 Takeaway
Dumplings and gyoza explained
The term dumpling encompasses a broad range of pieces of dough wrapped around a filling or cooked dough without any filling.
Dumplings are a popular category in Asian cuisine, especially Chinese and Japanese. In terms of flavor, dumplings can be savory or sweet, and common fillings include meat, vegetables, fish, cheese, fruit, or sweet pastes.
Dumplings can be steamed, pan-fried, or deep-fried.
Dumplings are not one specific dish, but rather, the term refers to a broad range of doughy treats.
Gyoza, however, is a specific type of Japanese dumplings. It has a half-moon shape, a thin dough wrapper, and it is steamed then pan-fried.
Traditional gyoza is filled with minced pork and vegetables like napa cabbage. But these days, gyoza is filled with all kinds of ingredients like seafood, vegetables, and beef or chicken.
Another one of my favorite dumplings is Takoyaki. Find 6 Delicious Takoyaki Recipes here!
What’s the difference between gyoza and dumplings?
As I mentioned earlier, gyoza is a Japanese type of dumpling. But if we compare gyoza to Chinese dumplings, the main difference is the filling.
While gyozas are usually filled with ground pork, cabbage, spring onion, garlic, and ginger and then dipped into a soy-based sauce, dumplings can contain a whole variety of ingredients.
As well, gyoza fillings are wrapped in a thin wheat flour dough, while some dumplings like Chinese xiao long bao are large thicker dough dumplings.
Many of the world’s favorite dumplings are made of wheat flour. However, gyoza is commonly made from pre-fabricated thin wrappers.
The wrappers are quite delicate and a bit harder to fold and mold into shape because of their fine texture.
Shape and cooking method
The shape of gyoza is that of a half-moon with pleated edges, and the dumplings are long but not very big. In fact, gyoza is about a bite or two bites smaller than the average Chinese potsticker or steamed dumpling.
Dumplings come in all shapes, but round and bucket dumplings are popular. Gyoza-like shapes are also common.
Each gyoza is stuffed, steamed with a bamboo steamer, and then pan-fried in oil for a few minutes until it develops a crispy exterior.
You can also find age-gyoza, which are deep-fried dumplings, and sui-gyoza, which are boiled in water.
Of course, pan or teppan-fried dumplings and deep-fried ones have a fantastic crunchy texture and a soft, tender interior, and they are extra yummy.
Flavor & how they’re served
The reason that gyoza is considered different from jiaozi, the most similar Chinese dumpling, is that the flavors are more subtle to suit the Japanese palate. Chinese seasonings are often spicy and strong-flavored, whereas the Japanese generally prefer mild foods.
Thus, gyoza is often served with a simple soy sauce dip. Some gyoza sauce recipes indeed call for chili pepper flakes to add some spice, but the most common dipping sauce is made with rice vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, and a hint of garlic.
Other dumplings are served with chili oil and soy sauce and rice vinegar or other spicy sauces.
Another difference between the two is their age and location. Chinese dumplings were invented in Northern China. The dumplings, namely jiaozi, were invented more than a thousand years ago.
If you compare gyoza, then they are a recent or modern invention of the 1940s (World War II) era. Soldiers returning from the war brought back dumpling recipes and modified the fillings to include Japanese spices and flavors.
Chinese vs. Japanese dumplings
Gyoza is not quite a uniquely Japanese invention. It was adapted after Chinese jiaozi dumplings.
But instead of a bucket-shaped steamed dumpling with a pork filling, gyoza is half-moon shaped and contains minced pork and cabbage.
Usually, Chinese dumplings are called potstickers, and they are compared to Japanese gyoza because that’s Japan’s most common type of doughy dumpling.
The difference between Chinese and Japanese dumplings, mainly gyoza, is that Chinese potstickers have a thicker dough or wrapper.
That’s because the potstickers are usually cooked with steam. Gyoza has a thinner wrapper so that it is fried easily on a Japanese teppan griddle.
Different types of dumplings
There are many types of dumplings, and each one is unique in that the fillings are different, the thickness of the dough varies, and they are cooked differently.
In many western restaurants, dumplings are called potstickers.
Let’s take a look at the most famous dumplings in Asia and America.
Shiu Jiao or Jiaozi
This is a water-boiled dumpling usually stuffed with meat like chicken, beef, pork, or lamb or leeks and onion for a vegetarian version.
The dumpling is long with ruffled edges, similar to gyoza. In fact, the gyoza is inspired by this popular Chinese dumpling. The dumplings are usually steamed or boiled only.
Banh Bot Loc
These are the most popular Vietnamese dumplings and are eaten as appetizers before meals. The dumplings are unique because the fillings are wrapped in tapioca.
Usually, Banh Bot Loc is filled with shrimp and pork belly and dipped in sweet chili sauce.
The traditional Japanese gyoza dumplings are filled with minced pork or shrimp and vegetables like cabbage and green onion.
The steamed and pan-fried dumplings made of wheat flour dough are molded into half-moons with ruffled edges.
These are popular Korean dumplings that are cooked in various ways.
They can be steamed, boiled, pan-fried, and even deep-fried. The most common fillings are minced pork and beef.
Each dumpling has a round boat shape and is served with a spicy dipping sauce and kimchi.
Wonton dumplings have a flat shape, and they are added to wonton soup. They are a Chinese dumpling usually stuffed with shrimp, shrimp paste, or a combination of minced pork and shrimp.
The dumplings are either steamed or deep-fried to add lots of crunch to soups. You can also eat them with chili sauce.
Also check out this Pancit Molo Recipe (Chinese influenced Filipino Wonton Soup)
Xiao Long Bao
These are big Chinese dumplings with a dome shape and perfectly shaped edges. You will find these dumplings as a staple of dim sum.
They are healthy dumplings commonly filled with soup and pork and then steamed. These dumplings are also called ‘steamed buns’ because they have thicker dough wrappers.
Guo Tie is very popular in American restaurants. These dumplings are pan-fried potstickers mainly served as appetizers.
They have a gyoza-like half-moon shape, except the shape is not as defined and a bit thicker. The common fillings for these dumplings are ground pork, chicken, or beef and vegetables.
The potstickers are served with soy sauce.
All dumpling lovers will understand that each dumpling has a unique flavor profile, texture, and shape.
Sure, they’re all great, but of course, some are just a bit superior. It all comes down to preference. Some love them steamed, and some prefer fried dumplings.
If you prefer the crunchy texture of the steamed and fried dough, you’ll love gyoza. But, if you want a healthy steamed or boiled dumpling, you might like some of the Chinese dumplings more.
Make sure to try them all!
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