We have a very prolific zucchini plant this year. At first, we were hesitant to pick them, not wanting to waste our precious few gems without careful consideration of how they’d be used. Somewhere along the way though, Beryl discovered that if you pick them, it only encourages the plant to produce more veggies. And so now we’re swimming in gorgeous and delicious zucchini. So much zucchini, in fact, that even after making 2 loaves of zucchini bread and a chocolate and zucchini cake, we were still left with half of a monstrous zucchini that needed using (not to mention the heavy load still on the plant).
We also had some ground pork from our pig half that we had thawed and needed to use. After some searching around for inspiration on the web, we decided to try making potstickers, or gyoza, or dumplings. . . I’m still not sure what you call them. After a relatively unsuccessful first attempt with homemade ravioli (we’ll tackle that again soon) I was a bit nervous that gyoza might be equally finicky. But in fact, they were a breeze to make, if not a bit tedious to wrap. They came out looking lovely, and they tasted fantastic and authentic. Even better, we now have a couple ready meals frozen and waiting for us in the chest freezer.
It’s really hard to explain how to wrap these buggers, so I highly suggest that you seek out a video on youtube demonstrating the technique such as the one I’ve posted below. A movie is worth . . . well:
duration of the movie (in seconds) x 1000 words x frames per second
You can either steam these or pan fry them. I think we both preferred the crunch on the bottom of the pan fried dumplings, but the pillowy steamed dumplings were more delicate. Both were delicious. Choose your own adventure.
Pork and Zucchini Gyoza
1 zucchini, cut into ¼-inch dice, about 1½ to 2 cups
¾ lb ground pork
1 celery rib, cut into ¼-inch dice
2 scallions, minced
1 large clove garlic, finely minced
1 ½ Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp Chinese cooking wine (Shaoxing) or dry sherry
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
gyoza wrappers (found in the produce section usually… by the tofu)
Toss the diced zucchini with ½ tablespoon of salt and let it stand for about 30 minutes. Rinse the zucchini under cold water, and then gently squeeze the excess moisture out and pat it dry with a towel. Put the zucchini in a bowl and add the pork, celery, scallions, soy sauce, shaoxing, and 1 tablespoon of oil.
Prepare a space for the finished dumplings, a baking sheet with wax paper works well, and a small bowl of water to moisten your fingers. In your palm hold a gyoza wrapper and add about a teaspoon of filling to the center of the wrapper. Dip your finger in the water and moisten the edge of the wrapper. Fold the wrapper over to form a semi-circle and then pleat the edges to seal. This is hard to explain, so I suggest you watch the youtube video below. There are probably many ways to seal up a gyoza skin, but all that matters is that you’ve sealed it up well–though the pleats will help catch sauce and will also look more appealing. Put the dumpling on the prepared sheet, cover with a damp kitchen towel, and repeat with the remaining wrappers and filling.
When you’ve wrapped all of the filling, it helps to put the dumplings in the freezer for a little while, 30 minutes to an hour, to firm them up a bit so that they don’t fall apart when cooked. This is also convenient for the dumplings you don’t plan to eat: they can be placed in a plastic freezer bag and stored in the freezer for a month or two. They will cook up great straight out the freezer, they just might need a couple more minutes. It is best to wait until the dumplings are frozen solid, about 4 hours, before placing them together in a freezer bag.
For Steamed Dumplings: Line a steamer basket or bamboo steamer tray with damp cheese cloth, or lettuce leaves. Arrange the dumplings in a single layer on the cheesecloth, don’t allow them to touch or they will stick together when cooked. Place the basket over simmering water in a large saucepan. Cover and steam until the filling is cooked through, about 10 to 15 minutes. Serve with a dipping sauce of soy sauce mixed with rice vinegar to taste.
For Pan-fried Dumplings: Heat a thin film of oil in a large non-stick skillet. Place the dumplings in the pan (pleated sides up) not allowing them to touch. Use multiple pans if you must, don’t overcrowd them. Add water to reach about halfway up the sides of the dumplings and bring to a boil. Cover partially and cook until the water has evaporated and the dumplings are crisp and browned on the bottom, about 12 to 15 minutes. Add more hot water in the middle if it has all evaporated too soon (say, in only 6 or 7 minutes). Serve with a dipping sauce of soy sauce mixed with rice vinegar to taste.
Makes about 35 dumplings