What is gyoza?
Gyoza are traditional Chinese dumplings that are extremely popular in East Asian countries, with their origins in China. They are also known as Jiaozi and are an essential part of traditional Chinese New Year celebrations.
Typically gyoza is made from a thinly rolled dough filled with ground meat and vegetables, which can then be boiled, steamed or fried, and served hot with a dash of black vinegar and sesame oil or in a soup.
The history of gyoza
The history of gyoza isn't entirely clear, and several different theories have been put forward about how it came to be. The most popular is that gyoza was invented around AD 250220 by Zhang Zhongjing, a revered master of Chinese medicine who used them to treat frostbitten ears. He believed that many people suffered from frostbitten ears due to a lack of proper nutrition. To manage them, he combined lamb and pepper along with various medicines, before wrapping the mixture in dough and boiling it before serving to his patients.
Serving gyoza is supposed to bring wealth and prosperity to the provider, as the shape of these dumplings is reminiscent of yuan bao silver or gold ingots, which were used as currency at the time of the Ming dynasty.
It is traditional for many Chinese people to eat dumplings at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve, and some will even conceal a coin inside one of the dumplings for a lucky recipient to discover.
Nowadays, gyoza is eaten worldwide, and while commonly a lunch or dinner foodstuff, in some cultures, gyoza are eaten for breakfast too when served with xiaolongbao - usually at budget roadside restaurants.
Are there different types of gyoza?Gyoza can be prepared in many different ways. There are lots of different fillings to choose from, and many families have different unique recipes that have been passed down through the generations. Preparation methods vary from region to region. Some typical fillings include beef, chicken, prawns, fish, pork, and mutton, which can be mixed with vegetables such as cabbage, carrot, garlic, chives, celery, mushroom, spinach, and spring onions.
Cooking methods also vary, and the dumplings can be boiled, steamed, pan-fried, or made as part of a soup dish.
Is gyoza healthy?Gyoza is generally considered a relatively healthy food, but of course, the cooking method of choice, as well as the quantity consumed, makes a big difference. If you eat them in moderation and choose a healthier cooking option such as boiling or steaming, they are reasonably healthy food. Frying the dumplings adds fat, and using fattier meats will also make them less healthy.
Is Gyoza easy to make?Many people avoid making gyoza at home because they fear they are too complicated or tricky to make. However, these delicious dumplings are quite straightforward and well worth the effort. They are ideal for anything from a light snack to a perfect sharing plate or starter for a dinner party meal.
In reality, a few simple steps will see you and your nearest and dearest enjoying fresh gyoza, and you can even prepare them in advance and freeze them for a hassle-free option at a later date.
If you'd like to learn more about how to cook gyoza from scratch, take a look at our blog full of tips and recipes for these delicious treats.