Gyoza (餃子, gyōza) are dumplings filled with ground meat and vegetables and wrapped in a thin dough. Also known as pot stickers, gyoza originated in China (where they are called jiaozi), but have become a very popular dish in Japan. The typical gyoza filling consists of ground pork, nira chives, green onion, cabbage, ginger, garlic, soy sauce and sesame oil, but some creative gyoza shops have also come up with a range of other fillings.
Types of gyoza
Yaki Gyoza (pan fried)
Yaki gyoza are by far the most common type of gyoza. They are pan fried in a hot skillet before a mixture of water and cornstarch is poured in and everything is covered for a few minutes. The water and cornstarch mixture helps to steam the gyoza, making them soft and juicy while creating a thin crispy bottom on the individual gyoza. Yaki gyoza are typically served with the crispy bottom side up. Hanetsuki gyoza ("gyoza with wings") is the term used when the individual gyoza pieces are all connected by the thin crispy bottom.
Sui Gyoza (boiled)
Sui gyoza are boiled gyoza that are often served in a very light broth. They are much less common than yaki gyoza and mainly found at Chinese restaurants and specialized gyoza restaurants.
Age Gyoza (deep fried)
Age gyoza are crispy, deep fried gyoza mainly found at Chinese and gyoza specialty restaurants, but rarely encountered elsewhere.
How to enjoy gyoza
Gyoza are found nationwide at ramen shops, Chinese restaurants, izakaya (casual dining establishments) and a small number of gyoza specialty shops. A typical serving of gyoza consists of about half a dozen dumplings and costs around 300 to 600 yen. Gyoza are usually eaten with a dipping sauce made at the table of equal amounts of soy sauce and vinegar. A bit of chili oil (rayu) is also commonly added.
Gyoza are particularly popular in the cities of Utsunomiya in Tochigi Prefecture and Hamamatsu in Shizuoka Prefecture, which battle for top gyoza consumption each year. A characteristic of Hamamatsu gyoza is the addition of bean sprouts on top of the gyoza. Both cities have large numbers of gyoza specialty shops some of which offer gyoza with less conventional fillings such as shrimp, mushroom, cheese or shiso leaf.