I have to admit, I’m not the biggest fan of Christmas. The pressure of getting everyone the perfect gift and the feeling that I’m hemorrhaging money never sat well with me.
However, I’m not a total scrooge. I love the extra time spent with family and friends, and all the extraordinary dishes that are whipped out especially for the holidays. This is why Thanksgiving is so perfect: no presents or pre-Thanksgiving parties that are thrown for weeks on end - just friends, family, and food.
This year’s Thanksgiving was particularly memorable because I had back-to-back feasts: one traditional (turkey) and one Japanese.
The first Thanksgiving meal was at my mom’s house and the second was the next day at my best friend’s parent’s house. Mia’s mom has been cooking amazing Japanese meals for me ever since I was a kid, and I love her food just as much as my own mother’s.
My sister and I arrived at Mia’s early Friday morning and we were soon joined by our childhood friend, Mamina. The four of us immediately started catching up on a year’s worth of stories and gossip while Mia’s mom prepared lunch. On the menu was fried curry gyoza (potstickers) and oden, a Japanese hot pot of assorted fish cakes, tofu, and vegetables.
We were all quickly enlisted to fill the gyoza, which has always been a communal activity. When done alone, wrapping fifty or sixty little potstickers can become tedious, but with a group of friends the task becomes a gyoza party! In what felt like no time at all, we made about 60 pretty little star-shaped packages, studded with a single pea.
Mia's mom fried the gyoza and set it out on the table along with the simmering hotpot of oden. We all helped ourself to fish cakes and gyoza until we couldn't eat anymore. There was no better feeling.
These fried gyozas are filled with curried potatoes and ground beef and adorned with a single emerald pea. The curried meat-and-potatoes heartiness is extremely satisfying, and I must warn you that these little guys are dangerously addictive.
Mrs. Brogan's Curry Gyoza
Yield: 50 – 60 Gyoza
1 ½ pounds russet potatoes (about 3 medium)
½ pound ground beef
3 cloves garlic
1 ½ tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon curry powder
¼ teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
50-60 gyoza (dumpling) skins, a standard 12-ounce package will be enough and both round and square dumpling skins are fine
50 – 60 peas
Vegetable oil (enough to fill a pot with about 3 ½ inches of oil)
Gyoza Dipping Sauce (recipe below)
Bring about 2 ½ quarts of water to a boil. Meanwhile, peel potatoes and roughly cut into 1-inch pieces. Once the water is boiling add the potatoes and cook until fork-tender (about 10-15 minutes). Drain the water, leaving the potatoes in the pot. Mash the potatoes until there are no lumps and set aside.
Heat a large skillet on medium high heat. Add the ground beef. Break up the meat as it cooks so there are no large pieces. Cook until browned (about 10 minutes). Carefully drain any excess fat. Place the cooked ground beef into a bowl and set aside.
Cut onion and carrot into a small dice. Mince garlic. In the same skillet used to brown the beef, heat vegetable oil on medium heat. Add the onion and carrots and cook until the onions are translucent (about 5 minutes). Add garlic and cook for 5 more minutes. Sprinkle vegetables with curry powder and turmeric and cook for 1 minute.
Turn off the heat and add the ground beef and mashed potatoes. Mix until all the ingredients are evenly distributed.
Prepare a small bowl of water so you can moisten the gyoza wrappers; you only need a couple tablespoons of water. Next add about 2/3 of a tablespoon of the curried mixture to the center of the gyoza wrapper. Using you finger or a brush, moisten the dumpling wrapper around the filling. This will help you close the dumpling skin.
Next, firmly pinch the dumpling skin into four points around the filling, leaving a small opening at the top to fit the pea garnish. Press one pea into the filling at the opening on top. Repeat, the filling process until all the dumplings are formed.
Fill a heavy bottom pot with about 3 ½ inches of vegetable oil. Heat at medium to medium high heat until the oil reaches about 350 degrees. Fry the dumplings in batches until they are golden brown (about 4-6 minutes). Be sure not to crowd the pot with gyoza (crowding causes the oil temperature to drop). Drain on paper towels. Serve with gyoza dipping sauce.
Gyoza Dipping Sauce
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 lemon wedge
Mix the ketchup and soy sauce into a small bowl. Squeeze the juice of one lemon slice and thoroughly mix.