The one thing I learned from the Japanese regarding Gyoza is that it could be the only thing you're having for dinner and still end up being an amazing meal.
Around February before MCO began, I was able to make possibly my last travel destination for the year to Fukuoka. It was the beginning of an amazing food journey for me, with one of the most memorable experiences being my visit to Hakata's Asahiken Gyoza. In Asahiken Gyoza, you only have 3 main food items to order - salad, chicken wings and of course, Gyoza. I didn't try the salad, opting to dive right into the chicken wings and Gyoza, with a tall cold one to wash it all down of course.
My initial thought on the chicken wings was that it wasn't anything awe-inspiring. In fact, it looked rather plain- best described as lukewarm and dry. Although I didn't immediately gain the "wow-factor" on my first bite into it, I gradually started realizing something as I continued eating the wings- I began to savour the pure taste of natural, high-quality chicken! I'm just tasting the taste of natural chicken in soyu marinade, fried, left out cold.... what a grand idea! Thing is, cooking is best kept simple if the main ingredients are good. Most of our chicken here is grown and bred within 30 days, with these chicken often referred to as "fat chicken" by the Chinese or "injection chicken" by my local chicken seller, with the trick being the "extras" in the feed. The taste of a natural chicken grown and bred in 3 to 4 months (natural growth) has a far superior taste to any artificially bred chicken you find in most markets nowadays.
Without a doubt, their Gyozas was the standout dish. This is the ideal dish, this is inspiration in its most pristine form, plain and simple! Its skin not too thick, not too chewy, of course when fried till crispy yet exudes the elegance of juiciness that partakes in both a combination of frying and steaming. I can take this at home just by itself and possibly some pickles... but then maybe that really doesn't really mean by itself, hah! Now, I wonder what would really take it to the next level...
After sharing my experiences with my chef at Rarethefoodco, we thought hey- we've got a lot of.. Iberico. Ibericos, pata negra, agnei Ibericos- we've got plenty of them! In order to determine the best cut to use for the Gyozas, we've toyed with collar (Carbecero) -too much fat, lagrima - too crunchy....we've done a lot of experimenting. (Psssttt... don't know what we're referring to at this point? Feel free to have a look at the chart below!)
With a lot of effort and a lil' input from Chef Bryan's grandmother's secret recipe (Not telling you the recipe, at least not in this blog ;) ), we eventually opted to use Lagarto due to it having a great combination of meat to fats- just perfect for Gyozas. With this, I strongly believe that we have an amazing Gyoza for all of you out there to try. Handmade with love, guided with passion, we can now say that we've passed down a dish from previous generations with a little improvement on the ingredients side.
Nuff said; here's the technique to pan sear our Gyozas!