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  2. The story behind the dish: gyoza
The story behind the dish: gyoza

The story behind the dish: gyoza

With a crunchy golden coat wrapped around a delicate filling, it isn't hard to see why gyozas have become one of Japanese cuisine's top exports. A take on Chinese jiaozi, these bite-sized dumplings have gone through years of refinement, but most chefs stick to tradition. Here's how the mighty gyoza came to be.

An Eastern delicacy

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Your typical gyoza consists of a ground pork filling of green onion, cabbage, ginger, garlic and soy sauce, before being wrapped in a thin dough. It may be on every Japanese menu these days, but this humble dumpling wasn't seen in Japan until the 1940s. The reason? It was adopted from Chinese cooking methods. Following the Japanese invasion of China in the late 30s, the Japanese army were introduced to the culinary revelation of the jiaozi.

Wanting to recreate this delectable dish, they invented their own pan-fried version – the gyoza. Since then, its popularity has exploded across the country and the gyoza has become a staple of Japanese cuisine. In fact, there's even a Gyoza Stadium in Osaka – a shrine that offers a complete history of the dish, showcasing many tried and tested cultural variations.

Three ways to gyoza

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The most common form of gyoza you'll find anywhere is the pan-fried yaki, where one side is fried in a little oil before adding water and cornstarch to the pan. This steams the other side of it, creating a mix of soft and crunchy textures. But there are two other variations that you may not have come across. First, there's the sui gyoza, where the thin wrapper is boiled instead to give a delicate, tender texture.

Whereas yaki are usually served with a soy and vinegar dipping sauce for acidity, sui are typically served in a light broth, and are far less common. You'll usually find them at specialized restaurants, which is where you'll also find the age gyoza – the dumpling is completely deep-fried to create a flaky outer casing.

Keeping things traditional

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If you want gyoza, Chao Chao Gyoza in Wanchai is one place sure to satisfy. They have all different kinds of fillings, from classic pork and shrimp to more unconventional chicken wing, mushroom or garlic, and even have chocolate-filled dumplings for dessert.

Best of all, you can try all the different cooking methods. Half-moon yaki gyoza are fried till golden on one side, but there's also boiled gyoza and deep-fried options on the menu. Order a platter to experience a mix, or choose your own plates, a la carte, for a dumpling feast.

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