It's funny, two of my favorite Japanese dishes actually find their roots in Chinese cuisine. Perhaps this is related to the phenomenon whereby many people mistake me and my best friend (who is Chinese) for sisters. Or the fact that I can pronounce "har gow" with a native speaker's precision (I assure you, that is the only word I can annunciate...the others sound hacked and tortured). Both ramen and gyoza are known to most Americans as Japanese fast food, but in fact, both were brought back to Japan by soldiers stationed throughout China during WWII. Gyoza is the Japanese name for the pan-fried version of jiaozi, which is basically the Chinese term for a meat-and-vegetable-stuffed dumpling. Regardless of where they come from, I eat them with gusto!
So alongside my New Year's-inspired shrimp dumpling experiment, some celebratory jiaozi seemed in order. The fantastic thing about making dumplings from scratch is that you can never make too many. Cook only as many as you can eat the day of assembly, and any uncooked dumplings can be frozen (first lay out on a cookie sheet in the freezer, and when frozen through, toss into a freezer-safe Ziplock) to be cooked later. So go bonkers. Make three recipes-worth. On those nights when you have nothing in the fridge and are too lazy to call for take-out, you'll thank me for it. For the recipe, read on.