GYOZA (ギョーザ)

Gyōza is a kind of Chinese dumpling, widely popular in China, Japan, and Korea as well as outside of East Asia. This dumpling consists of a ground meat and/or vegetable filling wrapped into a thinly rolled piece of dough, which is then sealed by pressing the edges together or by crimping. The gyoza should not be confused with the wonton: the gyoza dumpling has a thicker skin and is a flatter, more oblate, double-saucer like shape (similar in shape to ravioli), and is usually eaten with a soy-vinegar dipping sauce (and/or hot chili sauce); while a wonton has a thinner skin, is sphere-shaped, and is usually served in broth.

The Japanese word gyōza (ギョーザ, ギョウザ) was derived from the reading of 餃子 (Jiǎozi in Mandarin Chinese) in the Shandong Chinese dialect (giaozi) and is written using the same Chinese characters.

The most prominent difference of Japanese-style gyōza from Chinese style jiaozi is the rich garlic flavor, which is less noticeable in the Chinese version, and the fact that Japanese-style gyōza are very lightly flavored with salt, soy, etc. Therefore, they are always served with soy-based dipping sauce (tare) seasoned with rice vinegar and/or rāyu (ラー油 (辣油), known as 辣油 in China, red chili pepper-flavored sesame oil). The most common recipe found in Japan is a mixture of minced pork, garlic, cabbage, and nira (Chinese chives), and sesame oil, which is then wrapped into thinly-rolled dough skins.

Gyōza can be found in supermarkets throughout Japan. There are also specialized restaurants and amusement parks sell them all over Japan. More commonly, pan-fried gyōza are sold as a side dish in almost all ramen and Chinese restaurants in Japan.

The most popular preparation method is the pan-fried style called yaki-gyōza (焼き餃子) in Japan, in which the dumpling is first fried on one flat side, creating a crispy skin. Then, water is added and the pan sealed with a lid, until the upper part of the gyōza is steamed. Other popular methods include boiled sui-gyōza (水餃子) and deep fried age-gyōza (揚げ餃子). However, it is necessary to be careful when preparing sui-gyōza using Japanese-style gyōza sold in markets, since many of them are designed for the yaki-gyōza cooking method, and hence have thin skins that frequently come apart while boiling (gyōza for sui-gyōza is usually specified in Japan).

They are best enjoyed while still steaming hot. Crisply fried gyōza are popular items in bento (Japanese lunch boxes).