Gyoza, or Japanese potstickers, are surprisingly easy to make. In this recipe, the gyoza are stuffed with a blend of bacon, shrimp, cabbage, scallions, ginger, and garlic and dipped in a soy-based sauce. They make a perfect appetizer for your next ramen, sushi, or stir-fry night, and they freeze well so make a big batch!
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What are Gyoza?
Gyoza are the Japanese version of potstickers, or Asian dumplings. The Japanese were introduced to the Chinese jiaozi (a Northern Chinese dumpling) during WWII. Gyoza is the Japanese pronunciation of jiaozi, and the two items are very similar. Gyoza tend to be a bit smaller and a bit thinner-skinned than their Chinese counterparts, with more emphasis on the filling than on the dough.
Ingredients for Gyoza
What are gyoza wrappers made of, and how can you find them? According to Nami at JustOneCookbook (one of my favorite Japanese recipe resources), gyoza dough is made from just 3 ingredients: water, flour, and salt. If you’re interested, you can read her recipe here.
I haven’t taken the plunge on homemade wrappers, as they are available at all of my local grocery stores. You do sometimes have to search the store, or ask someone. They need to be refrigerated (or frozen). I often find them in the refrigerated part of produce section, near the tofu and fancy salad dressings. You can might look in the organic/health food refrigerated case, and in the dairy aisle. If you have access to an Asian grocery they should also have them in stock.
If you aren’t going to use the wrappers right away, pop them in the freezer until you’re ready. Just make sure to take them out to defrost the night before you’re planning to make this gyoza recipe. Quick defrost methods (microwave, running water) will ruin them.
Gyoza traditionally have a pork filling, so bacon isn’t much of a stretch. For this recipe, I use half raw bacon and half cooked, for a little crunch. If you’re interested in making your own, click here. Cook half the bacon according to your preferred method (how to cook bacon) and set on a paper towel-line plate to drain. The rest will go into the food processor with the rest of the gyoza fillings.
I use raw white shrimp, peeled and deveined, without heads or tails for this recipe. You can buy them this way or prep them yourself (how to peel and devein shrimp). Size isn’t important, and frozen shrimp are fine. Defrost them before using, either in the refrigerator overnight (best method), or by placing them in a bowl of cold water for about 10 minutes. Generally the shrimp you see in the seafood case at the grocery store came from a bag in the freezer section – just buy the bag and defrost them as needed.
You can use any kind of cabbage in this recipe. The day I took the photos, I was trying to use up a giant head of purple cabbage from my sitter’s parents’ garden. Green cabbage works just as well, or you can get fancy and use Napa.
Salt the cabbage prior to using it in this recipe. Chop it roughly, sprinkle with some salt, and place it in a colander for about 20 minutes. Then gather it in a towel to remove some of the moisture and proceed.
Slice a few fresh scallions (green onions) for this recipe. If you don’t have any, you could substitute chives or garlic scapes. You could try half of a regular onion in a pinch, but be aware that you’ll change the flavor profile of the recipe.
Peel and chop an inch-long knob of fresh ginger. Pro tip – keep ginger in your freezer. It makes for easy peeling and grating, and lasts for a long time. Let the peeled section sit for a few minutes before trying to chop it – it defrosts really quickly. Watch your fingers when it’s frozen – I tried to rush it once, and almost wound up in the ER! I don’t recommend substituting ground ginger. It’s a poor approximation of the fresh stuff.
Chop up a couple of cloves of garlic. Again, I strongly recommend fresh garlic for this recipe. The paste that comes in a tube (sold in my grocery in the refrigerated produce section) is a tolerable substitute.
You can use whichever brand you family prefers. I like usukuchi (or “light” soy sauce), but you can use whatever you have on hand.
Mirin is a sweetened Japanese rice wine. Kikkoman makes one that’s pretty widely available. If you can’t find it, you can substitute sake or white wine plus a pinch of sugar.
Sesame oil is a strongly flavored oil – a little goes a long way. Most grocery stores carry it these days, usually in the Asian or International aisle. If you can’t get it, you could approximate the flavor with some crushed sesame seeds or a bit of tahini.
Gyoza Filling Recipe
Mix the following in a food processor: salted and drained cabbage, raw bacon, shrimp, scallions, ginger, garlic, soy, mirin, sesame oil, and some sugar and salt. Add the cooked bacon last and pulse just a few times until incorporated.
Pinch a small ball of the filling (maybe one inch in diameter) and place in a small bowl. Microwave it for 10-15 seconds and check the seasoning of the filling. Adjust as needed, with more salt, sugar, soy sauce, or sesame oil.
How to Stuff Gyoza
I swear this is not difficult, it just takes a little time. Start by setting up a workstation. You need a package of wrappers, a finger bowl of water, and the filling. In order to make sure the wrappers don’t dry out, cover most of the stack with a piece of plastic wrap until they’re needed.
Take one wrapper. Wet two fingers. Rub your wet fingers around the edge of the wrapper, to dampen the outer centimeter or so. Place one tablespoon of filling in the center. Fold it in half and pinch the two sides together to form a half moon shape. Then, make pleats, one at a time as shown above. Once the gyoza are filled, place them in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Save the gyoza you’d like to use right away, and freeze the rest. There’s no reason not to make the entire recipe, since gyoza freeze so well. I place the baking sheet directly into the freezer over night. The gyoza will freeze individually that way. The next day, move them to a gallon freezer bag. You’ll be able to pull out as many gyoza as you need whenever you decide to proceed with the recipe.
How to Cook Gyoza
Gyoza are best when both pan-fried and steamed. Heat a wok or large pan over medium heat. Add a mixture of vegetable and sesame oils. Place gyoza into the pan (fresh or frozen, no need to defrost), in batches if needed, so that they do not touch. Fry for about 3 minutes, or until down side begins to brown.
At this point, CAREFULLY add water to the pan. Water can splash when you add it to hot oil. Immediately cover the pan and let steam for about 3 minutes with the cover on. Remove the lid. If the gyoza were freshly made, they’re done! If they were frozen, cook uncovered another 2-3 minutes. That’s it! This also works for store-bought varieties. My kids love gyoza of all kinds, so we usually have a bag in the freezer in case I haven’t had time to make homemade.
You can buy premade gyoza sauce, but I’ve honestly never tried it. It’s super easy to make your own. Take a quarter cup of soy sauce (or Ponzu) and add a tablespoon of rice wine vinegar and a half teaspoon of sesame oil. If you like heat, add a little sriracha or garlic chile seasoning, or use the sesame oil with chiles in it. If I have any leftover scallions I add them to the sauce. Taste it, adjust the seasonings if needed, and dig in!
What to Serve with Gyoza
Gyoza are good on their own as a snack, and they are great accompaniments to any Asian dishes that you like to serve. I make a lot of ramen and pho, and they go perfectly with any Asian noodle soup. They’re also good with stir fries, yakisoba, yakitori, and fried rice. Some recipes to try are:
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Gyoza Recipe: Bacon and Shrimp Potstickers
- Food processor
Bacon and Shrimp Gyoza
- 40 gyoza wrappers fresh, homemade, or defrosted
- 2 cups cabbage roughly chopped
- 4 oz bacon uncooked
- 4 oz bacon cooked until crisp
- 4 oz shrimp raw, peeled and deveined, heads and tails removed, and diced
- 1 inch fresh ginger peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 cloves fresh garlic peeled and roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup scallions diced
- 2 tsp soy sauce plus more to taste
- 3 tsp sesame oil divided
- 2 tsp mirin may substitute white wine, if so increase sugar to 1 tsp
- 1/2 tsp salt plus more to taste
- 1/2 tsp sugar
Gyoza Dipping Sauce (optional)
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 1/2 tsp sesame oil
- garlic chile sauce or sriracha, to taste, optional
- 1 scallion diced, optional
Bacon and Shrimp Gyoza Filling
- Salt cabbage: Place roughly chopped cabbage into a colander. Sprinkle with a teaspoon of salt. Let sit for 20 minutes. Squeeze with dishtowel to remove excess water. Place salted cabbage in bowl of food processor and pulse for a few seconds.
- Add raw bacon and raw shrimp to bowl of food processor. Pulse until well incorporated.
- Add garlic, ginger, scallions, soy sauce, mirin, 2 tsp sesame oil, and salt and pepper to food processor. Pulse until well incorporated.
- Take a small pinch of filling and microwave for 10 seconds (or fry until cooked through) Taste. Add more salt, soy sauce, or sesame oil if needed to suit your tastes.
Fill Bacon and Shrimp Gyoza
- Set up workstation: on cutting board, place a stack of gyoza wrappers (covered with plastic wrap to prevent drying out), small bowl of water to wet fingers, and bowl of gyoza filling. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Set one wrapper on the workstation. Place 1 tablespoon of filling in the center. Dip a finger or two in water, and rub them around the outside centimeter or so of the wrapper. Fold the gyoza in half to form a half moon shape. The water will help hold the edges together. Make 3-4 pleated folds, starting at one side and working towards the other. There are pictures in the post if you'd like a visual.
- As each gyoza is finished, place it on the parchment paper-line sheet. Set aside any that you'll be cooking immediately, and freeze the rest. Place the baking sheet into the freezer overnight. The next day, place gyoza into a large freezer bag. Cook directly from frozen.
How to Cook Gyoza
- Heat a wok or large pan over medium heat. Add a tablespoon of vegetable oil and the remaining 1 tsp sesame oil. Once the oil is hot, place a single layer of fresh or frozen gyoza into the pan. Do not crowd pan – make multiple batches if necessary.
- Cook gyoza for about 3 minutes or until one side is lightly browned. Add 1/2 cup water very carefully – watch for splashing. Cover pan and cook for an additional 3 minutes. Remove cover. Fresh gyoza will be done now. Frozen will require an additional 2-3 minutes without the cover on. Serve with storebought or homemade gyoza dipping sauce.
Gyoza Dipping Sauce (optional)
- Mix together soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, and sesame oil. Add chile sauce and scallions if using. Taste. Adjust seasonings if needed. Serve with freshly made gyoza, and enjoy.