“A gourmet who thinks of calories is like a tart who looks at her watch.” - James Beard

Do Chinese Restaurants Shop for Gyoza at Trader Joe’s?

Posted: August 9th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Appetizers, Chinese, Cooking, Eating Out, Vegetable Oil | View Comments

I love gyoza, also referred to as potstickers.  I think it is the yummiest appetizer in all of Asian cuisine, and I can eat just gyoza for an entire meal.  Fill it with pork, chicken, beef or “mystery meat” and I’ll eat it.  For those of you not in the know, gyoza is a Chinese dumpling that is filled with meat and either steamed or fried (often a combination of the two).  Gyoza is what the Japanese call it, generally Chinese restaurants will call them potstickers.

Gyoza usually isn’t cheap when you consider what you’re getting, a plate of 6-8 can easily set you back $6-$10.  At good restaurants they make the dough and filling, and hand form the dumpings, so you’re paying for the labor.

Imagine my surprise when I went Trader Joe’s tonight and noticed pre-made gyoza in the frozen section.  I couldn’t resist, so I brought them home and decided I’d see if I could recreate the same yumminess in my kitchen.   Each bag contained three servings of 7 pieces, 270 calories per serving (before the oil and the sauces).  Sounds about right – 3 servings is a filling dinner (with a lot of salt).

I followed the instructions, cooking them a little longer than they suggested so they’d get that nice crispy texture.  It takes 7 minutes to:

  • heat a frying pan (while it is empty) on medium/high
  • add 4 tablespoons of vegetable oil (they suggested 2, whatever, I like my fat)
  • add the whole bag of gyoza once the oil is hot
  • let the gyoza brown, turning occasionally (be gentle)  — they suggested 1 minute but I did it for 4 to get crispier
  • turn the heat down to low
  • add 1/4 cup water to the pan and cover so the steam will warm them all the way through – 2 or 3 minutes
  • pour gyoza into a strainer to remove the excess oil and water, serve

So there you go!

Immediately, I noticed that these gyoza are a particular size and shape – and I’ve seen the exact same size/shape repeated at LOTS of restaurants.  I think there are tons of Asian restaurants shopping at Trader Joe’s or Costco or some other bulk restaurant retailer and we’ve been paying $1/gyoza when I just made 20 of them for $3!  I’m rethinking my whole gyoza strategy, from now on I am going to ask if they make their own dumplings fresh and from scratch.  If not, I’m not ordering – because I can make them at home and never risk a soggy gyoza again.

Photo credit: Flickr