Mushroom Pancetta Gyoza from La Fuji Mama

Today’s featured recipe comes to us from Rachael, the taste buds behind La Fuji Mama.

Gyoza, Japanese pan-fried dumplings, were one of the first things I learned to cook when I first lived in Japan.  I’ve since made them many times with many different fillings.  One of the things that I love to put in gyoza are mushrooms.  For this gyoza variation, I use a combination of mushrooms (I use 5 ounces of fresh shiitake mushrooms, 4 ounces of baby bella mushrooms, and 3 ounces of enoki mushrooms, but you can use whatever mushrooms you like), cubed pancetta, garlic, ginger, green onion, and a bit of aka miso (red miso paste).

I chop up the mushrooms.  Then I saute the pancetta in a large saute pan until the fat starts to melt and the pancetta starts to brown.  Then I add the mushrooms, garlic, ginger, and green onion and saute everything together until the mushrooms have browned slightly.  After letting the mixture cool slightly, I stir in the miso paste and a bit of salt.

Then I assemble the gyoza.  Gyoza are made using round wrappers.  Many local grocery stores only carry square wonton wrappers.  You can buy these and use a biscuit cutter to cut them into circles.

There are several ways to form gyoza, but here is a simple method you can use: Start out by laying a dumpling wrapper on a dry work surface, and place a heaping teaspoon of the mushroom mixture in the center of the wrapper.  With a fingertip moistened with water, trace a line along half of the edge of the round wrapper.  Fold the wrapper over to enclose the filling, and pinch the wrapper in the center to seal the edges together at that spot.  Holding the filled half-circle in your left hand, push the right rounded end in with the forefinger of you right hand to close the opening.  Pinch the “V” created by doing this together.  Repeat on the other side.  This should create a flat rectangular bottom, with the a rounded arch on top.

If you want to make your gyoza look a bit fancier and pleat them, take a look at my step-by-step pleating instructions.

Once you have assembled all of the gyoza, cooking them is simple.  First you fry them in a bit of oil until the bottoms turn a golden brown.  Then you add some water, cover them with a lid, and steam them for several minutes until they are cooked through.

Serve them hot with a simple dipping sauce.  The finished gyoza make a wonderful party appetizer or a fun meal.  The mushrooms make a wonderful earthy and meaty filling.

Mushroom Pancetta Gyoza (Japanese Pan-fried Dumplings)

Makes 40 gyoza

3 ounces cubed pancetta
12 ounces mushrooms, diced
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/2 tablespoon freshly grated ginger (with a Microplane grater)
1 tablespoon green onion (green part only), minced
1 tablespoon aka miso (red miso paste)
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
40 dumpling wrappers

For cooking the dumplings:
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 cup water

Dipping Sauce:
6 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
Several drops of chili oil or sesame oil (optional)

1. In a large saute pan over medium heat, saute the pancetta until the fat has partially melted and the pancetta starts to brown.  Add the mushrooms, garlic, ginger, and green onion and saute until the mushrooms are lightly brown.  Remove from the heat and let cool slightly, then stir in the miso and sea salt.

2. Have a small bowl of cold water ready.  Lay a dumpling wrapper on a dry work surface, and place a heaping teaspoon of the mushroom mixture in the center of the wrapper.  With a fingertip moistened with water, trace a line along half of the edge of the round wrapper.  Fold the wrapper over to enclose the filling, and pinch the wrapper in the center to seal the edges together at that spot.  Holding the filled half-circle in the left hand, push the right rounded end in with the forefinger of you right hand to close the opening.  Pinch the “V” created by doing this together.  Repeat on the other side.  This should create a flat rectangular bottom, with the a rounded arch on top.  Set aside the stuffed dumpling with the rounded-wrapper edge up. Repeat to make 40 dumplings in all.

3. In a large skillet with a tight fitting lid, heat 1 teaspoon of the vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Carefully place as many of the dumplings that can fit without touching in the skillet with the pleated-wrapper edge up.  Cook the dumplings for 3 minutes, or until nicely browned on the bottom.  Check the progress by lifting 1 or 2 dumplings by their pleated edge.

4. Once the bottoms are nicely browned, use the skillet lid to shield yourself and carefully pour in 1/4 cup of the water.  When the hissing and splattering die down, drizzle in 1/2 teaspoon of the vegetable oil around the edge of the skillet.  Place the lid on the skillet to trap in the moisture and then quickly lower the heat to keep the liquid at a bare simmer.

5. Check the dumplings after 2 minutes.  When the wrappers appear slightly translucent and the filling feels firm when pressed lightly with a spoon, remove the lid and raise the heat slightly.  Continue to cook until all the water has evaporated and only the oil remains (about 2 minutes).  Once you hear a sizzling sound, shake the skillet.  The dumplings should slide about.  If they seem to stick to the skillet, move the skillet away from the stove and replace the lid for a moment.  Remove the dumplings from the skillet with a broad flexible spatula. If you’d like, flip them over so that the seared surface faces up.  Cook the remaining dumplings the same way.  Serve the dumplings hot accompanied by the dipping sauce.

4. While the dumplings are cooking, make the dipping sauce by mixing the soy sauce and rice vinegar together in a small bowl.  Pour the sauce into a small serving pitcher or distribute among individual dipping dishes.





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