Washoku Warriors: Pork and Wakame Gyoza with Edamame Rice

by foodhoe on August 11, 2009

Because I can no longer run to my mom or grandmothers for instructions on the fine arts of Japanese cooking, I decided to join the Washoku Warriors an online group whose aim is to cook their way through Elizabeth Andoh’s cookbook, Washoku, recipes from the Japanese home kitchen.  I have had the cookbook for over four years and I am a little embarassed to admit that this is the first time I have ever cooked from it. The calligraphy for wa (和) is used to refer to things indigenous to Japanese culture and translates to harmonious and peaceful.  It is also the first character of my family name – a sign for sure.  Shoku (食) relates to just about anything that deals with eating or food.  Washoku translates literally to the harmony of food, which is a way of thinking about what we eat and how it can nourish us.  The recipes don’t occur until page 91 as the author begins by introducing the reader to the five principles of washoku, the washoku pantry and then the washoku kitchen.

This month’s challenge is to make Pork and Wakame Dumplings or Wafu Gyoza with Edamame Rice.  This is one tablespoon of wakame which is a dried sea vegetable.  It looks like tea doesn’t it?

Ahhh,  Andoh Sensei… your recipe sounds bland to me, no ginger or garlic?  Unable to control myself, I decided to split the mixture and make half using the original recipe and the other with the flavors I like.  I mean if I’m going to go through all the effort anyways, right?

and then added lots of fresh cracked black pepper to what I refer to as the spicy batch…  I might as well admit that I substituted ground turkey for the pork and also added minced raw shrimp to the spicy batch!

I did try making the wrappers by hand as well since I’m always going on about how much I love fresh pasta… The suggested recipe says to mix up the flour and water with chopsticks…  I should have paid attention and looked at fujimama’s post first which clearly shows the proper texture.  Then maybe I would have figured out that my dough was too sticky.

I rolled a lot of wrappers and following the instructions, coated with flour, stacked and placed in a plastic ziplock so that they wouldn’t dry out.

Well, I needn’t have worried about them drying out.  The stacks of wrappers melted and stuck together stubbornly, and I was only about to salvage enough to make the half of the gyoza with the plain turkey filling.

Not only that, I made the wrappers too thin, they were difficult to work with!

And so I went to the store and picked up a package of commercially made wrappers.  They were only $2 and I will never hesitate to purchase these in the future… 3 hours of my time is certainly worth more than $2!

Once the gyoza were wrapped and resting, I began working on the Edamame rice.  The recipe calls for 2 cups of dashi and I used a commercially prepared dashi-bag full of kombu and dried bonito flakes that my kittycat thought smelled delightful and tried to run off with…

While I steeped the dashi-bag in hot water, I toasted the black sesame seeds in my stove top spice roaster, then mixed it in with some gorgeous Malden sea salt.

Meanwile, I placed all of the rice ingredients in my super duper fuzzy logic rice cooker and 45 minutes later, the rice was done. Then I cooked the gyoza following the instructions for mushi yaki or steam searing, which ensures that the pork is thoroughly cooked, yet remains moist and succulent.  I was surprised to use sesame oil in the skillet to cook the dumplings rather than mixed in with the dip, but I loved how it infused the wrapper with the nutty rich flavors.

The dumplings were delicious and the fragrant rice topped with black sesame salt made a grand field on which to lay them.

The dipping sauce was a simple mixture of soy sauce and rice vinegar, which I added a dab of chili sauce to.  Mr. K had a distinct preference for the spicier potstickers, and I felt a deep affinity for the wafu dumplings made with my homely and lumpy handmade wrappers.

I have made potstickers before on numerous occasions and still this kind of kicked my ass.  But now I know how to make gyoza, which is distinctly Japanese and quite different from potstickers.  Whew, I survived my first Washoku Warriors challenge, with one day to spare…

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Tess August 12, 2009 at 7:08 am

Hi foodhoe,

I really liked this recipe. And the cat with the dashi is charming!

I agree that buying the gyoza wrappers is certainly fine—and I usually do. But the homemade ones can be rolled so they are thinner on the edges which makes the pleats less doughy.

Here is my post showing Ms. Andoh’s technique for rolling the wrappers. Clicking the tiny pics make them viewable size.
http://1tess.wordpress.com/2008/06/01/pork-and-wakame-gyoza/
.-= Tess´s last blog ..New Tess’s Kitchen =-.

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grace August 12, 2009 at 9:05 am

you’ve gotta keep a close eye on those kitties–i’m convinced they’ll get into ANYTHING!
meanwhile, i think your potstickers look perfect–as long as they’re edible and perhaps even delicious, i bow down to you. it’s a feat i’ve never accomplished. 🙂
.-= grace´s last blog ..row, row, row your boat =-.

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Cookie August 12, 2009 at 10:32 am

Wow, these look great! I’ve never heard of wakame before but I love sea veggies so I’m sure it tastes great. I LOVE the combo of edamame and rice! My mom makes it all the time and she throws in some cabbage too.
.-= Cookie´s last blog ..Oven with Knobs??? =-.

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Su-Lin August 12, 2009 at 11:31 am

I’ve always wanted to have gyoza as a main dish and that edamame rice looks perfect with it! Thank you!
.-= Su-Lin´s last blog ..L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon =-.

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Juliana August 12, 2009 at 12:10 pm

Love your dumplings…I always buy the frozen ones…I am sure that the homemade ones are tastier…with turkey.
.-= Juliana´s last blog ..FAST FOOD? HOW ABOUT GRILLED SALMON AND A SIDE SALAD? =-.

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Gastronomer August 12, 2009 at 12:54 pm

Wow! Great job, Foodhoe! I bet our mama and g-ma are smiling down on you. I would love to participate in a group like this. I have so many cookbooks that just sit on the shelf without a use.
.-= Gastronomer´s last blog ..California Spirit Gourmet Gala XXV =-.

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The Single Guy August 12, 2009 at 1:51 pm

Oh how fun to watch you in the kitchen! I want more! 🙂 I thought your home-made wrappers actually looked pretty nice and even, but I’ll take your word that they were hard to handle. That can be frustrating. I have the same issue when I make empanadas skins from scratch. Then I go to find the packaged ones! Your dumplings really had a nice sear on the bottom, yum!
.-= The Single Guy´s last blog ..Dish on Dining: Looney’s Smokehouse =-.

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foodhoe August 12, 2009 at 6:43 pm

tess, yours are exactly what I aspired for my wrappers to look like. I really need to work on the technique!
grace, that one cat is always ready for anything…this is a great recipe and is very delicious. I just made it more difficult as usual…
cookie, wakame added a luxurious texture! I like the idea of adding veggies to rice, it’s novel to me, but very good.
su-lin, you’re welcome!
juliana, I buy the frozen ones too, but these are so much better. I’d do them again for sure.
gastronomer, aw thanks. the number of cookbooks I have is shameful!
single guy, 🙂 it’s so hard to cook and take photos though… whine whine… and yes the bottoms did have a good crunch

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mark August 12, 2009 at 7:47 pm

beautiful photos, really nice job.
.-= mark´s last blog ..zucchini bread =-.

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cocochanelella August 13, 2009 at 3:18 am

This looks so amazing, I love the edamame look deeelicious, and making your own wrapper too. I will have to steal this meal and make it for my love ones.
.-= cocochanelella´s last blog ..#37 Limon Rotisserie – The Big 100 Eats List =-.

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Carolyn Jung August 13, 2009 at 4:37 pm

I give you MAJOR props for making your own wrappers. I have yet to attempt that, because I’m usually too lazy or a bit intimidated by it all. Hah!

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veron August 14, 2009 at 7:47 am

You did a great job, your gyozas look scrumptious! I was not also sure if I did my wrappers correctly. They did stick together some after I refrigerated them and suffered a few casualties so you are not alone there.
.-= veron´s last blog ..My 1st Washoku Warrior Challenge – Gyoza! =-.

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justcooknyc August 14, 2009 at 11:55 am

these dumplings look amazing

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foodhoe August 14, 2009 at 12:11 pm

mark, thanks
coco, you totally should, the loved ones will love it!
carolyn, why thank you! I’m on the fence about handmade wrappers… I love the concept, but that was pretty painful – my ROI didn’t pay off
veron, I’m glad I’m not the only one!
justcooknyc, thanks! and thanks for visiting

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gaga August 14, 2009 at 12:43 pm

Haha, sometimes homemade isn’t quite worth it. Oh well, at least you ended up with some great dumplings either way!
.-= gaga´s last blog ..Broccoli Beef =-.

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Fuji Mama August 14, 2009 at 2:07 pm

There’s definitely nothing wrong with buying wrappers (but it was fun to try making your own, don’t you think)? You did a great job!
.-= Fuji Mama´s last blog ..Washoku Warriors: Gyoza, Edamame, and Rice =-.

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Mrs. L August 14, 2009 at 2:28 pm

These look wonderful. I’d probably go for the spicy batch myself 🙂 and of course I have the cookbook on my want list now!
.-= Mrs. L´s last blog ..Grilled California Avocado BLT Burgers with Caramelized Chipotle Onions =-.

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jen maiser August 14, 2009 at 7:58 pm

This sounds like such a fun project. I think that the Washoku cookbook changed my cooking fundamentally. Andoh is amazing with the specificity in her recipes.
.-= jen maiser´s last blog ..where i’ve been … =-.

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foodhoe August 15, 2009 at 9:58 am

gaga, yes it was a great learning experience, and the dumplings were delicious
fujimama, I’m really excited to have finally made a recipe from Washoku… thanks again for putting the whole thing together!
mrs. L, both versions are delicious and I recommend that you get the book, it has a lot of cool info and pictures.
jen, I am still feeling intimidated by the 5 principles of washoku, but this challenge has at least made me take the leap and start cooking. Your comments inspire me further!

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Amber August 15, 2009 at 11:42 am

Those photos are beautiful! Now you’re making me glad I didn’t try my own gyoza wrappers. I agree that I thought the filling sounded bland with no ginger or garlic. They turned out tasty enough, next time I’ll try to mix it up a bit with my own flavors too.
.-= Amber´s last blog ..Pork and Wakame Dumplings =-.

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Sarah August 16, 2009 at 9:09 am

Mmmm… your spicy turkey version sounds yummy! I’m planning a second batch myself – this time with Chinese chives and shrimp instead.

I also found I added too much water when making my dough. The ones that we cooked right away were fine, but the ones I froze to cook later in the week tasted rather waterlogged.
.-= Sarah´s last blog ..Gyoza! =-.

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Andreas August 16, 2009 at 1:44 pm

Very nice step-by-step pictures.
Just the other day I tought that dried curry leaves also look very much like tea. 🙂
.-= Andreas´s last blog ..Washoku Warriors =-.

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