The weekend is so close, I can taste it.
As a young uni student, living in Neutral Bay, I remember inviting friends around for drinks, setting up rugs and cushions in the backyard and having a “roll your own nori roll” party. I had everything ready to go in Tupperware containers and my friends all enjoyed rolling their own sushi whilst enjoying a few too many drinks.
Food for me doesn’t need to be perfect.
I’m a self confessed “foodie” but that doesn’t mean that I need a restaurant with a chefs hat to satisfy me. Some of my best memories and experiences have involved being around friends and family and sharing the experience of cooking (and eating) together. Whether that be in a backyard eating sushi with mates or being with family together cooking for the masses. (I’m one of 5 kids and come from a large family on both Corks and my side).
In my happy place. Pictured below is (from left to right) my sister; Ali, Grandma; Mim, sister; Elle, sister; Case, my mum; Meg AKA; Meemar and a younger version of myself, taken at Mum and Dad’s place in 2011 at a family gathering.
Now if you’re not going to try a new recipe when friends come over- then when will you?
I’ve heard it said before that you should cook something you know and that has ‘worked’ when you have a dinner party. But I disagree. It’s not like we are back in the 60’s cooking a roast for our husband’s boss and his wife where we are on show and trying to impress.
Instead, try your hand at something new. Like dumpling making. Get your friends to muck in and help you make them. Make sure you top up their drinks, have some tunes playing in the background and make it casual and relaxed. I guarantee you they will enjoy themselves. What a better way to spend a Saturday evening?
Gyoza dumplings (this mince recipe makes enough for 2 packets of gow gee wrappers – 48 dumplings. If you are only cooking for a couple of people, you can freeze the left over mince and use it another time). It is a good recipe as you do not need any fancy steamers or utensils.
500 grams of pork mince (making enough for 1 packet of dumpling wrappers and having half of it leftover to freeze for next time)
1 packet of gow gee wrappers (24 in a packet)
4 shallots, chopped finely
4 garlic cloves, crushed in a garlic crusher
A good knob of fresh ginger, grated
A cup of shredded white cabbage
1 teaspoon of sesame oil
1 teaspoon of castor sugar
Salt and white pepper
Two tablespoons of soy sauce, and extra for serving
Sweet chilli sauce, for serving
Peanut oil or vegetable oil, for frying
- In a saucepan, heat a little bit of oil over a medium heat and fry off the garlic and ginger for a minute or so until fragrant. (Be careful not to burn).
- Add the shredded cabbage, a dash of water and some salt and pepper. Let it cook for a couple of minutes, stirring, until the cabbage is wilted and soft. Set aside to cool. (I transfer it to a bowl and stick it in the freezer to speed up the cooling process).
- In a mixing bowl, add the pork, shallots, sesame oil, sugar and soy sauce.
- Once the cabbage mixture has cooled down – add this to the mince and mix using your hands.
- You are now ready to make the dumplings.
- Lay a tray out lined with baking paper and have a bowl of water ready to dip your fingers into.
- Get 1 gow gee wrapper and place it in the palm of your left hand (if you are right handed). Spoon one teaspoon full of the mixture in to the middle of the wrapper and using your index finger on your right hand – dip it in a little bit of water and rub it around the edge of the dumpling wrapper. This water will act like glue.
- Now is the tricky bit – you want to bring the two sides of the dumpling wrapper together in a semi circle (without pressing them together yet). Starting at one edge – you want to pinch the pastry together with your thumb and index finger on your right hand, holding the dumpling in your left hand. (You can watch loads of chefs do this on youtube if you need more help. Jon Yongfook is a good teacher, see here).
- Make sure you press the edges together very firmly and then place the dumpling on the tray and repeat till all finished.
- Pop the dumplings in the fridge covered in glad wrap until you are ready to cook them.
- Heat a good splash of oil in a fry pan on medium heat and using your fingers, place the dumplings in to the pan and fry the bottom of the dumpling. This should only take a couple of minutes (be careful not to burn).
- Once nicely browned on the bottom of the dumpling, add about 3/4 cup of water to the frying pan (being extremely careful as it will spit a lot when the water hits the oil) and put the lid on. Lower the heat to a simmer and let the dumplings steam until cooked. The best way to know that they are cooked is to cut one in half and have a taste. The dumpling wrapper should be soft and the mince cooked.
- Serve with soy sauce and sweet chilli sauce and my vermicelli noodle salad.
- Be careful not to overcrowd the gow gee wrapper. It is easier to stick together when there is only a very small amount of the mince mixture.
- Be careful not to fry your dumplings on too high a heat so that you don’t burn the bottom of the dumpling.
- Be careful not to overcrowd your fry pan. You may want to use two fry pans at the same time if you are making a large amount of dumplings.
- You can also freeze any dumplings that have been formed but not cooked. You can then defrost them when you need them and repeat the frying/steaming process.
My little helper, Annabelle darling.
I get the girls to tell me what they think the ingredients are when we’re cooking. Charlotte knows what garlic, onion and olive oil is. I was making a chocolate torte with the girls the other day and Charlotte said “Mum – you haven’t put the milk in the cake yet?” They learn and remember so much at such a young age!
Line the Gyoza on a tray lined with baking paper and pop them in the fridge with glad wrap before ready to cook them. The pastry sticks together better when frying if it is cold.
Once you get the hang of the pinching method of making the dumpling, you will be able to do it in your sleep. Doesn’t take long to pick it up.
These beauties are ready to be cooked.
Pop them in some peanut or vegetable oil on medium heat and let them fry on the bottom before adding water to let them steam.
This recipe makes enough for 48 dumplings (two packets of gow gee wrappers) and I often freeze the rest of the mince for next time. Pork mince is nearly always sold in 500 gram packets in supermarkets but obviously you can get smaller portions from butchers.
These dumplings are best served as part of a shared feast. They go well with my Thai chicken balls and vermicelli noodle salad, and a glass of really cold wine!
Here’s to a good weekend.
If you make these Gyoza, I’d love for you to post a pic on Instagram and tag #los_kitchen.