Jill Dupleix

Izakaya staple: Gyoza's folded goodness are a Japanese neighbourhood favourite.
Izakaya staple: Gyoza's folded goodness are a Japanese neighbourhood favourite. Photo: Steven Siewert

What are they?

Small pan-fried, crisp-bottomed Japanese dumplings related to the Chinese pot-sticker (guo tie), filled with anything from pork to prawn, and even cheese. A mainstay of every neighbourhood izakaya menu, they're now crossing over to non-Japanese menus as well.

Where are they?

Brisbane's madly popular Harajuku Gyoza recently opened in Sydney's King's Cross, and now has a combined output of 18,000 hand-made dumplings a week. "That's a lot of folding," says ''Director-San'' Steve Minon. His advice for home cooks is to make sure you seal them perfectly. "If moisture enters the gyoza during the steaming process, they'll fall apart," he warns.

At the Tokyopop-inspired Paper Planes in Bondi Beach, the big seller is head chef Jin Kung's prawn gyoza smothered with creamy lemon wasabi foam and crushed wasabi peas.

In Melbourne, Taxi Dining Room head chef Tony Twitchett has pork and prawn gyoza on his Month of Sundays lunch menu this month, served with a wombok salad and black vinegar mushrooms. "Try for a nice mix of protein and vegetables for the filling so they're not too meaty," he suggests. Tomoya Kawasaki of St Kilda's Wabi Sabi Garden in St Kilda says up to 80per cent of customers order the gyoza at any given meal.

"They're too popular," he says. "We would rather not put them on the menu but we have to."

Why do I care?

Dip that slippery pork dumpling and its caramelised bottom into soy and vinegar and tell me you don't care.

Can I do them at home?

Easy-peasy japanesey. Gyoza skins (wrappers) are available from Japanese food specialists, or use round gow gee wrappers from Asian food stores.

Sourcing

VICTORIA

Taxi Dining Room, Level 1, Transport Hotel, Federation Square, Melbourne 0396548808.

Wabi Sabi Garden, 17 Wellington Street, St Kilda 0395298505

NSW

Harajuku Gyoza, 9/15 Bayswater Road, Potts Point NSW 0293563834.

Paper Planes, Shop 15, 178 Campbell Parade, Bondi Beach 0293000673.

Gyoza

250g minced fatty pork
150g savoy or wong bok cabbage
1 tbsp finely chopped spring onion greens
2 garlic cloves, finely grated
2 tsp finely grated ginger
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp sugar
Pinch of black pepper
Half tsp sesame oil
1 pack gyoza wrappers
1 tbsp vegetable or peanut oil
For the dipping sauce:
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
Drop of sesame oil

1. Cook the cabbage in simmering salted water for one  minute, drain and rinse under cold running water, pat dry and finely chop.

2. Combine with  pork, spring onions, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, sugar, pepper and sesame oil, mixing well by hand.

3. Lay out  wrappers. Run a finger dipped in water along  half of the outer rim of each wrapper. Place 1 tsp of filling in the middle and bring up the edges to join at the top. Pleat the top,  pressing firmly to seal.

4. Heat the oil in a non-stick frypan and cook the gyoza in batches until the bases are golden brown, about one  minute. Pour 150ml hot water down the side of the pan, cover and steam over low heat until the water dries up, about six minutes. Uncover, and allow the gyoza to fry for one minute until crisp and brown-bottomed. Combine  dipping ingredients and serve alongside.

Serves 4 (makes 25)