Gyoza (dumpling) party

Have you ever eaten homemade dumplings? When I was growing up, dumplings (called mandoo in Korean or gyoza in Japanese) were one of our favorite things to make and eat. In college and during my single years friends and relatives would often gather to make and eat fresh hot dumplings. There's nothing quite like the taste of homemade dumplings, especially when you make the wrappers yourself too.

I made dumplings with my two boys a few times when we had no toddlers underfoot, and after seeing a post on Babette Feasts, decided it was time to make them again now that our youngest has grown up a bit. Check out Babette's recipe. If you want more details on making your own homemade skins, here's a great link at La Fuji Mama (although in our house, the wrappers definitely do not turn out this uniform! Part of the fun of making these with children is letting them have fun with the dough and experiment). This makes for a great Saturday night at-home family party. The only tip I'd have is to make sure there's another adult around if you have a young child to help. My husband was out of commission with jet lag, and I got a little flustered between all the supervising and frying up, especially after I noticed that my daughter had stopped filling the wrappers and was just making little mounds of dough and piling the filling on top.  We also ran out of dough halfway through, so I'd make sure to make plenty in advance – any leftovers can just be fried as is or mixed with scallions to make scallion pancakes.

I love making homemade dumplings because you can throw just about any ingredient in the filling that you want to. This time I used nira, which is a Japanese green similar to chives, shiitake mushrooms, (dried deliver more potent flavor than fresh, but I had no dried ones on hand), grated carrots, and of course, plenty of garlic and ginger. I also added in a generous amount of chopped Chinese cabbage – you need to salt it first and squeeze it out or else it will leach water out into your dumplings when you're cooking (ugh, soggy dumplings). For flavoring I just added dashes of soy sauce, sesame oil, rice wine, white pepper, and then mixed it together with the vegetables, ground meat, and corn starch.

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Mix up a batch of dough (basically just flour, water and salt – knead and keep adding flour until it feels supple enough to roll out without being too sticky), set out placemats sprinkled with flour and a bunch of rolling pins, and let your children loose!

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Fry in a fry pan with some oil till browned, then add a splash of water, cover quickly so they steam-cook, and then take the cover off after a minute or two so the water can evaporate.  Part of the charm of children's gyoza parties is the variety of shapes and sizes you get. Serve with salad or pickles on the side (these are simple cucumber pickles made the same way as my radish salad, with salt, rice vinegar, and sugar).

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It's always fun to liven up a family meal by turning it into a party like this where the children participate in making their own creations – other things that we've done are burritos, homemade pizza, fondue, Korean barbecue, sukiyaki, yakisoba (Japanese stir-fried noodles), and ice cream sundaes. Do you and your children have any favorite dishes that you make together at the table?
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14 thoughts on “Gyoza (dumpling) party

  1. Sheryl

    These look yummy! Now that my children are older, we cook together all the time. Each Thanksgiving we all take on the task of one special dish. The kitchen is a riot with food flying everywhere and lots of yelling going on, but it make the food all the more tasty once we sit down to eat.

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  2. Laura Simeon

    I’m getting hungry looking at this! Here are two books to look for: Dumpling Soup by Jama Kim Rattigan and Bee-Bim Bop! by Linda Sue Park. They are both lovely picture books about children helping in the kitchen. Looking at these photos has strengthened my resolve to do more cooking with my daughter! She will sometimes help out with measuring ingredients or making one part of a meal while I make another, but we should do it more regularly – such nice memories!

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  3. Francesca

    I love dumplings, and never thought I could just homemake them! Thanks for all the tips – adding water to frying oil seems tricky, we’ll be ready to cover the pan quickly. In answer to your question, aside from baking, we make pizza together (we are from Italy after all:)).

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  4. Carla

    We have pancake Sundays at our house. My daughter can make the pancake mix, scoop the batter, and flip the pancakes by herself. All I do is supervise! Then she loves to drown all of her pancakes in syrup. Yummy!

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  5. Christine - Origami Mommy

    Oh yes, they are easy to make. Do be careful to have the pan cover ready, because there’s quite a sizzle.
    How nice you make pizza together! I know my children would love that – we’ve done it maybe just once or twice. I love hearing what families from other cultures and countries do. Being in Japan, another dish we make together at the table is hand-rolled sushi – just an assortment of various ingredients and vegetables along with rice and nori to wrap it all up in.

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  6. Christine - Origami Mommy

    That sounds delicious! Breakfast is a great time to cook together, and it sounds like you have a family ritual which will make for wonderful memories.
    One thing we’ve done a few times for breakfast is an “oatmeal” bar where I set out different toppings for the children to mix into their oatmeal, such as nuts, dried or frozen fruit, cream or milk, and honey or syrup.

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  7. Naomi

    Just found your blog – and I love it! My dad is Japanese, and it brings back many memories of gyoza and sushi “bars”. Now that I live in Europe, I treasure my little Japanese things, and dole them out slowly – umeboshi, and lovely origami paper. I love the crafts you’ve shown too! And your daughter is so adorable!

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  8. Christine - Origami Mommy

    Thanks for visiting!
    I know that when we return to the US, I will be carefully hoarding the Japanese things I bring back. Origami paper is definitely one of them – it’s available there of course but there is so much more selection here! I once brought umeboshi home on the plane for a trip because my son was so addicted to them at the time!

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  9. Frugal Kiwi

    Ah, I love Gyoza. It is one of the few foods that I could eat almost any time. I used to buy pre-made wrappers, but now we’ve moved away from Auckland, there isn’t any place I’ve found that sells them. I’ll have to start making my own now too.

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