As sharing foods go, Japanese dumplings are definitely our go to. They can be a little fiddly to make at first, but once you get the hang of it the process becomes quite enjoyable, especially with the anticipation of delicious snacking at the end of it. You can pick up little ‘gyoza’ wrappers in the frozen section of most Asian food stores and some good speciality food stores. We usually just pop them from the freezer into the fridge the night before we use them, where they defrost gently and you don’t risk them turning soggy. They are very thin little pancake shaped discs, which turn translucent and sticky when wetted. The filling of pork and cabbage is the traditional go to, but feel free to play around. Ingredients like kimchi, beef, shrimp and mushroom all make excellent dumplings. The dipping sauce is basically a mix of rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil and some sort of spicy chilli sauce.
For the dip
Place all the ingredients for the dip in a small saucepan and bring to the boil, allowing the sugar to dissolve. Take off the heat and leave to the side to cool.
Place the shredded cabbage in a colander and sprinkle generously with salt which will help it release excess moisture. Leave for around twenty minutes before squeezing the cabbage with your hands to release even more moisture. Place in a bowl along with the pork mince, sliced spring onions, crushed garlic, grated ginger and season lightly with black pepper. Add the mixture to a frying pan over a medium low heat with a little sesame oil. Fry till the pork has turned pale. Add the chives, soy sauce and sugar, mix through and take off the heat. Leave to cool.
Set up a little dumpling assembly station in your kitchen. You will need your defrosted gyoza wrappers, a little bowl of water, your cooled filling mixture and somewhere to place the dumplings when you make them.
Take a dumpling wrapper and place a heaped teaspoon size ball of the filling in the middle. Dip your fingers in the water and wet the edges of the dumpling wrapper. Fold the wrapper up, with the filling in the middle and pinch close with your fingers, making a little pouch. Crimp the dough with your fingers, making sure they are properly sealed. Repeat until you have 20 or so dumplings.
Heat a little vegetable oil in a shallow pan and fry the dumplings, until the bottoms have coloured lightly. Be careful not to let them stick. Pour around 100ml of water into the pan and cover with a lid. Leave for around 5 minutes, remove the lid, allowing the water to evaporate and remove the gyoza from the pan. Serve with the spicy dip.