Dumplings are a universal dish, with all kinds of varieties in all corners of the world. The Japanese version of the dumpling is called gyoza.
Gyoza refers to cooked dough pouches with various stuffing. These pouches are made of flour, potatoes or bread, and may include meat, fish, vegetables, or sweets as filling.
Chefs cook gyoza by boiling, steaming, simmering, frying, or baking them. They either have a filling, or there may be other ingredients mixed into the dough.
Dumplings come in sweet or savory varieties. They are eaten as a main dish, in soups or stews, with gravy, or in any other way.
In this post we'll cover:
- 1 What to know about dumplings
- 1.1 History of the Gyoza
- 1.2 Types of Japanese Gyoza
- 1.3 Gyoza Fillings
- 1.4 How to make Gyoza from scratch
- 1.5 Gyoza Japanese Dumplings from scratch
- 1.6 Places Where You Can Eat Gyoza in Japan
- 1.7 Asian Dumplings and Gyoza Around the World
What to know about dumplings
Dumplings are a universal dish (sort of like the pancake). Almost every culture on Earth has its own unique dumpling recipe.
If you visit any type of Asian restaurant, especially Japanese or Chinese, you’ll find a dumpling specialty on the menu.
In this article, we discuss the Japanese dumpling, known as Gyoza.
Here are all of the articles where we talk about Gyoza dumplings:
What is gyoza?
Gyoza is the official name of Japanese dumplings. Gyozas are small Japanese dumplings (dough packets) filled with ingredients such as minced pork and vegetables. In Japan, most gyoza recipes call for fried dumplings.
This dish usually consists of dough pieces that are made from a variety of starch sources (depending on the region where it’s made) flattened to thin sheets in order to wrap it around a filling (some recipes have no filling).
How do you eat Gyoza?
The gyoza dumpling is already delicious on its own; however, it tastes better when paired with a dipping sauce.
Food establishments offer customers ready-made sauce packets. The sauce is packed in small sachets and given when you order gyoza for takeaway.
But if you decide to dine in their restaurant or fast food place, they give you ingredients like soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, chili oil, and garlic and let you mix the sauce to your own liking.
The sui-gyoza, in particular, is not served with a dipping sauce. Instead, it is served with a bit of soup or drizzled in ponzu (a citrus-based sauce commonly used in Japanese cuisine).
You can order all kinds of dumplings – most are typically fried, boiled, or steamed. Most commonly, they are fried in vegetable oil or butter.
What’s the difference between Gyoza and dumplings?
Essentially they are almost the same thing. But, the original dumpling is the Chinese Jiaozi and it is the predecessor to the modern gyoza.
The main difference lies in the fillings. Different regions prefer different filling in their dumplings. For example, the Japanese love ground pork and spring onion fillings. In China, in addition to minced pork, they add bok choy (Chinese cabbage).
Another difference is the thickness of the gyoza wrap. Gyoza has a thin outer layer of dough. In some regions, people prefer thicker dumplings.
Are Gyoza Japanese or Chinese?
Dumplings are originally a Chinese dish. They are called jiaozi in Chinese, commonly known as pot-stickers. The Chinese dumpling has been around for thousands of years. The Gyoza is a more modern invention.
Although these dishes are very similar, both countries have their own regional specialties. The Japanese adopted the dumplings and it has become one of the most popular dishes in Japan.
As a matter of fact, the word “gyoza” is the exact Japanese translation of the Chinese term “jiaozi.”
No matter their similarities the two most famous Asian dumplings do have visible differences. Chinese potstickers tend to have more dough in them and also have a thicker wrapper when compared to the gyoza.
Is gyoza hot or cold?
The best gyoza is eating piping hot as it comes out of the pan. Chefs recommend you eat the dumplings right away because they taste best when hot.
However, some people like to eat cold dumplings. Technically, you can eat them cold but keeping them in the fridge will cause the dumplings to become mushy.
Can you reheat gyoza?
If you can’t eat the gyoza right away or you have leftovers, you can reheat them in the microwave for about 2 minutes. It’s recommended that you reheat the gyoza because if you leave them out they can dry up. Reheating them makes them moist and tasty again.
If you want to keep them warm, place a towel on top of the dumplings.
Another option to reheat them is to fry them quickly in a skillet for a few minutes. Be careful not to burn them.
How to cook dumplings
Dumplings are cooked in various ways including baking, boiling, frying, simmering, or steaming and share a common trait with many similar dishes in various cultures worldwide.
Fried gyoza is the most popular version of Japanese dumplings. People love to fry them because they have a crunchy exterior and decadent interior fillings.
This (very weird) video from Cooking with Dog shows how the Gyoza are made:
History of the Gyoza
Gyoza has been around Japan since the Edo Period in the 15th century, but they were not as popular back then.
It was the Japanese soldiers during World War II who popularized them after returning home from their missions overseas, particularly in Manchuria, China where they first tasted the crispy fried Chinese dumplings and a multitude of other Asian recipes.
The appearance and cooking methods of gyoza haven’t changed much in over 400 years; however, the flavors have evolved since then as chefs followed traditional cuisine. Japanese chefs innovate and try to come up with new flavors to please Japanese customers.
Soon after, the demand for gyoza in Japan skyrocketed and the cuisine was even exported to other Asian and Western countries due to its popularity.
The Japanes dumpling is very similar to the Chinese jiaozi (potstickers) and the reason behind this is because the goyza is derived from the Chinese dumpling.
On the other hand, the gyoza was made to have a thin wrapper in order for it to be easily fried over teppanyaki griddles.
International Dumpling Varieties
There is a dumpling from Poland called “pierogi” which is a traditional peasant food that also looks very similar to the gyoza in terms of shape and size, except that it tastes differently.
The fillings associated with it are potato, cheese, fruit, and even pickled sauerkraut.
The dumplings are cooked in a unique way where they are boiled first, and then fried afterward, or baked in butter until the dumpling wrapper turns golden yellow-brown.
Another type of dumpling dish from Turkey is called the manti or mantu, which looks similar to the shumai Chinese dumplings. It is over 700 years old and is believed to have originated from the Ottoman Empire around the 13th – 15th century AD.
The manti is made by rolling out pasta dough and its fillings are comprised of minced lamb or beef, onions, and spices.
The Turks cook them by steaming, boiling, baking, or frying them. They are garnished with a specially made yogurt sauce which is very delicious.
The typical meat used for gyoza fillings is beef as it enhances the overall taste of the dumpling. The flavor blends well with the other ingredients for the fillings like vegetables, fruits, cheese, seafood, etc.
However, in some regions such as Hokkaido, where lamb is more widely consumed, you may find lamb gyoza as a popular dumpling.
It is kind of unusual that many people from Italy and around the world – even food experts – lump the Italian dish ravioli in with pasta, when in fact, it looks more like a dumpling even when compared to other dumplings from different regions of the Earth.
Ravioli can be filled with anything from meat to cheese, mushrooms, and other vegetables.
The ravioli’s wrapper is made from pasta dough and it cooked by boiling and then served with a tomato or cheese-based dipping sauce.
Types of Japanese Gyoza
The one thing you will appreciate about the Japanese is that they love variety, especially in their food. Like sushi rolls, gyoza comes in many different varieties.
Food variety allows people to enjoy different experiences and flavors. But in each region of Japan, most people have one absolute favorite.
The dumpling on its own is already a broad classification of dishes emanating from all corners of the globe prepared and cooked in multiple ways.
The Japanese gyoza further extends this broadness and compliments the dish as a whole.
Below are some of the variations of the gyoza Japanese dumpling:
The yaki-gyoza dumpling is the most popular gyoza variety in Japan.
This gyoza variety is made in a similar manner as Chinese dumplings or potstickers, where the yaki-gyoza (yaki meaning “to fry” in Japanese) are first fried in a saucepan, then water is added to the pan and covered with a lid which will cause the mix to boil and steam the dumplings.
When the chef is satisfied with how much the yaki-gyoza has been steamed, then he will uncover the lid and allow it to get fried once more.
This gives the dumpling wrapper a tender texture with a crunchy finish.
In some regions of Japan, the way gyoza is prepared is quite different from the traditional ones. Bite-sized gyozas are fried together in a skillet until they form into a lump of combined huge crispy dumplings. Eating them this way is even better to munch on than eating them individually, plus you’ll be filled instantaneously.
The pork-filled gyoza is sometimes called ‘buta gyoza’, especially in Australia.
The age-gyoza and the yaki-gyoza are similar. The age-gyoza is deep-fried and crispier. The word “age” means “deep-fried” in Japanese.
Age-gyoza (fried dumplings) are crispy, deep-fried gyoza mainly found at Chinese and gyoza specialty restaurants.
Crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside, but rarely encountered elsewhere. The age-gyoza is served hot off the grill, so you may want to be cautious before taking a bite!
This Japanese dumpling is another variant of gyoza. It is not fried, rather it’s boiled in water or soup broth (dashi). This makes the dumpling wrapper tender and chewable to ease your every bite.
The dashi broth also enhances the gyoza’s taste making it savory and flavorful!
A similar variant is the mushi-gyoza (also called steamed gyoza). The dish is prepared and served in a bamboo steamer basket which is very similar to the Chinese dim sum dumplings.
Also read: how many calories are there in sushi?
Shumai is the Japanese version of the popular Chinese dish called dim sum shao mai. It is a thin dumpling skin filled with minced pork and shrimp.
The interesting thing about this dumpling is that it’s a vertically opening pouch. It is commonly garnished with orange fish eggs and one green pea. The dumplings are dipped in garlic chili or soy sauce.
The 4 traditional gyoza fillings the Japanese use, include:
- finely minced pork
- chopped cabbage
- shiitake mushrooms (the shitake mushrooms are used for their umami properties and to help make a contrast in the textures of the fillings).
- Napa cabbage (wombok)
Some regions in Japan prefer the unconventional fillings which include usually minced prawn (or sometimes other seafood options which may include semi-decayed sea urchin or uni), shiso herb, cheese, and fermented soybeans called “natto.”
If you’re a vegetarian or a vegan, then you may want to opt for the meatless gyoza, which has crumbled momen (soft tofu) and vegetables instead of meat.
It’s tasty and healthy, but will not make you feel guilty as you have made a sacred vow to abstain from eating meat.
Improve the taste of gyoza with spices and seasoning. Make the filling taste better with more flavorful ingredients.
The gyoza seasoning usually comes in the form of a dipping sauce which is a mixture of onion, garlic, ginger, sesame oil, and sesame seeds (garlic chives or nira is often used in the dipping sauce but it can be made without it also).
Is gyoza healthy?
The nutritional value and health benefits of gyoza depend on the filling and the way it’s cooked. In general, you want to avoid deep-fried gyoza is you are on a diet.
The deep-fried dumplings have a high fat content. The lightly fried gyoza are a healthier option but still contain fat. The healthiest type of gyoza is boiled and steamed.
The general consensus is that gyoza is ‘relatively healthy’.
The types of fillings also influence the calories and fat content. Look for dumplings made with high-quality meat and fresh vegetables. Avoid supermarket dumplings as these tend to be full of additives.
To stay healthy, eat a limited number of dumplings. Most often, dumplings have a much higher meat content than vegetables, thus they are not always the healthiest. It is easy to overeat gyoza because the dumplings are small and tasty.
How to make Gyoza from scratch
Making gyoza is quite simple. To make gyoza wrappers, use basic pantry ingredients. The fillings can be as simple or complex as you want.
To make gyoza at home from scratch, you need to make the gyoza wrappers first and then the filling. In this recipe, you can add chicken or pork filling depending on personal preference.
Gyoza Japanese Dumplings from scratch
- 300 grams flour white
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 250 ml water for boiling
- 500 grams chicken or pork minced meat
- 1 head bok choy Chinese cabbage
- 2 cm fresh ginger grated
- 2 cloves garlic grated
- 1 spring onion finely chopped
- 1 tbsp oyster sauce
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground pepper
- 1/2 tsp chilli flakes ground
- 1 splash soy sauce
- 1 splash lime juice or lemon
- 1 splash chili oil
- In a large bowl, add the flour and salt.
- Add in the boiling water and stir with a fork until dough forms.
- Roll dough into a big ball and cover it for one hour.
- During this time, mix together the ingredients for the meat filling and stir until the ingredients well mixed together. Chill the mixture in the fridge.
- To make the gyoza skins, roll out the dough and knead for 5 minutes.
- Cut the dough into 3 equal parts and roll each into a ball shape.
- Roll and stretch out each ball as thin as you can.
- Cut circular disk shapes using a cookie cutter.
- Take one skin into your palm and add a spoonful of filling.
- Wet the edge of the dough with a bit of water and fold over the dumpling to seal it.
- Pinch the edges to create a pleated effect, this holds the dumplings together while cooking.
- Take a large frying pan and add vegetable oil to start frying the dumplings. The dumplings should be fried for approximately 3 minutes until golden brown on the bottom.
- Add 100 ml of water to the pan and cover the dumplings. They will steam there for another two minutes or so.
- Once done, drizzle some sesame oil on the edges of the pan to add flavor.
- Serve with dipping sauce while hot.
My favorite Japanese ingredients:
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Places Where You Can Eat Gyoza in Japan
Like most dishes in Japan, you can find gyoza dumplings in Japanese and Chinese restaurants.
You’ll find dumplings on the menu of both restaurants. The reason for this is that the Chinese invented the dumpling and the Japanese adopted it more than 70 years ago.
Here are the top 3 places in Japan where you’ll likely find the gyoza dumplings:
It’s not that hard to cook the Japanese gyoza, in fact, with ton loads of gyoza recipes on the web anyone can make it at home!
But you can also enjoy it in dining establishments in Japan as well as other parts of the world, although it may have a different name that’s unique to that region.
There are 2 ways you can enjoy eating gyoza at home:
- Purchase pre-cooked gyoza from the deli section of any supermarket or convenience store
- Make it from scratch by following the instructions of a gyoza recipe.
Some people even throw mini “gyoza parties” at home to make gyoza recipes with a variety of fillings and eat them together with family and friends.
If you want to enjoy eating gyoza while dining out, then you go to a Chinese restaurant, ramen shops, izakayas, or gyoza specialty stores.
In Japan, they call Chinese restaurants “chuka ryori” which means “a Japanized Chinese restaurant” and people come to dine here for delicacies like fried rice, stir-fries, and especially gyoza.
Ramen restaurants are historically based on Chinese cuisine and it’s no surprise that they offer individual-sized portions of fried gyoza alongside their ramen as a compliment.
It is a little known fact that some ramen restaurants in Japan are more famous for their gyoza dumplings than their ramen dishes.
An Izakaya is an informal type of bar where they serve drinks and pub food. Gyoza dumplings are part of most Izakaya menu’s.
Gyoza is common comfort food. Groups of people visit the Izakaya to enjoy dumplings with a drink. Solo diners can order individual portions of gyoza.
On the other hand, gyoza specialty shops offer dumplings to both solo diners and group diners. It’s perfectly normal to eat gyoza with a set of meals that includes a bowl of rice.
Asian Dumplings and Gyoza Around the World
But it’s the gyoza is not exclusive to Japan; in fact, there are a lot of restaurants all over the world where you can find gyoza Japanese dumplings also.
Most of these dining establishments have a Japanese chef or a local who has had a formal education in Japanese culinary arts and is well-versed in Japanese cuisines.
Below are some of the best places where you can eat authentic gyoza:
Gyoza Bar – Japanese Comfort Food
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
This restaurant offers Japanese and Asian food with a Western twist and is one of the finest restaurants in Canada.
They serve their gyoza in traditional Japanese imono cast iron pans to achieve a perfectly seared and crunchy texture on the outside while locking in the juices of the filling on the inside.
This cooking technique makes for the remarkable texture and deep flavor in their signature dish.
Try out their Hamachi Kama Lunch Set, or the Tamari-Shoyu Tonkotsu Pork with a large batch of gyoza as a side dish!
Qing Xiang Yuan Dumpling
Location: Chicago, Illinois (USA) This place is actually a food court that has excellent Filipino, Japanese and Chinese vendors among its yummy offerings.
There are plenty of different kinds of dumplings. Both Japanese and Chinese stalls offer gyoza at their vendor stalls, located in the food court.
Their dumplings are also on par with other famous Asian restaurants in North America that offers top-notch gyoza Japanese dumplings.
Din Tai Fung
Location: Los Angeles, California, and Seattle, Washington (USA)
Many Asians migrated to the East Coast United States back in WWI and WWII, because it was located in the Pacific and ships could easily transport people there from Asian countries.
This is the reason why there are a lot of Asians in the East Coast USA and when they migrated they also brought with them their culture including their favorite dishes.
Din Tai Fung is the place to go if you want to eat the best tasting Asian dumplings and the Japanese gyoza.
People practically do word-of-mouth marketing for this restaurant, because the food here is that good!
Chao Chao Gyoza
Location: BGC Taguig City, Philippines
The owners of Chao Chao Gyoza are originally from Osaka, Japan. They traveled to the Philippines to set up their gyoza restaurant there.
Although some Filipinos do not accept Japanese folks due to the Japanese Imperial Army’s misdeeds in the island nation back in WWII, they do like Japanese food, especially the gyoza.
Chao Chao Gyoza is among the best and most recommended Japanese restaurants in the Philippines.
Location: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
TripAdvisor ranks this restaurant at #373 out of 13,950 restaurants in Rio de Janeiro. The restaurant serves great Japanese food and deserves its good reputation.
As I’ve stated in my previous article, not all specialty restaurants are known for the food specialty they serve, but sometimes it is their side dishes that people love and remember.
People are saying the same thing about Sushi Leblon, but they both praise their sushi recipe as well as their gyoza, so this place is a sure winner.
Location: Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
The Nozomi Riyadh has garnered over 608 reviews and ranks at the 9th place out of the 957 restaurants in Riyad by TripAdvisor. It’s no wonder guests often visit and talk about this Japanese restaurant in Saudi Arabia.
Instead of pork, the restaurant serves beef gyoza. Islamic countries prohibit pork meat. Travelers say that the beef gyoza is very tasty. It rivals the pork-based filling in the regular Asian dumpling.
Anyone can dispute the reviews and customer ratings. But there are 2 things I know that are often true and those are :
1) the Japanese always excel in the culinary arts and 2) customers don’t lie.
If you want authentic gyoza your best bet is to visit one of the many specialty restaurants in Japan. There are also places around the world where you can try dumplings in all their varieties.