Tuesday, August 29, 2006
Hello Gyoza, Goodbye Gyoza
This is going to be a boast post. Not a helpful article, with tips on how to cook this or bake that, but a pure, boastful, "look at what I made post."
I made gyoza, from scratch. Inspired by the exquisitely illustrated and detailed post on Kuidaore, I felt compelled to try my hand at making something I enjoy eating so much. I hoped this might give me a gentle transition from sweets to savory dishes, the attraction being the intricate wrapping in home-made dough, with its similarity to elegant pastries.
I was a bit frightened by some of the ingredients, and to this day don't know if I bought the right items in my local luxury imported goods store. I made the dough myself, and worried it was too dry, but after much kneading it became quite elastic. I anxiously did the math to know what impact on quantities it would have if I used my available 7.5 cm cookie cutter rather than the specified 6 cm. Finally I read and re-read the instructions on pinching little individual pleats on one side only of the dumplings.
Then I made my first gyoza. They were a delight to make. It felt therapeutic to handle the dough and sensuous to pinch the folds lovingly one by one. And such a joy to see the little moon shape form itself quite naturally.
I made a batch for two. I cooked them. I had some sticking problems, and I'm not sure I ever got a "clinking" sound when I tapped the gyoza to test their doneness. Then I served them with the appropriate sauce.
They were absolutely delicious. Very flavorful, delicate, pretty to look at... and gone in five minutes.
Which is fine. I like delicate morsels that don't sit on your stomach all evening.
But then after dinner I had to make the rest of the dumplings, as the filling and dough wouldn't keep. So while my husband watched France-Croatia, I sat in the kitchen crafting the darn little pockets. Dough round by dough round, pleat by pleat, I rolled and folded and pinched. I thought I was going to scream it took so long. And I didn't seem to be getting any faster. No economies of scale, no increase in production speed.
Finally I stuck them all in the freezer and said to my husband, "You liked the home-made gyoza? Well I hope you had a good look at them. I'm never making them again." He's used to my emotional outbursts.
Maybe I would have had more patience with sweets. But it drove me nuts to think I spent about 3 minutes per mouthful (rough estimate). I guess different people find patience for different things. While some don't see the purpose of baking a cake from scratch when you can use a mix, others would be horrified to buy ready-made puff pastry dough. I've never made puff pastry myself, but I don't think it would make me so impatient. Strange, because I probably like the taste of gyoza better than puff pastry.
Still, when friends came for an impromptu dinner the other night I was pretty pleased with myself when I popped the homemade gyoza out of the freezer and into a pan to serve them.
Indeed I probably won't ever make them again. Unless I can turn it into a sociable activity to do with somebody else. Maybe in the context of something like a quilting bee it would become quite enjoyable (gyoza bee anyone?). But till then, I'll just look at this boast post and say to myself, "Ha! I could make these if I wanted to."