Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Teacher Becomes The Student

I love gyoza. Always have, always will. I recently wrote how I ate at the local gyoza master's restaurant. That same day I went to Masumi's parents house and ate her mom's gyoza which put the master to shame. After devouring a handful of gyoza, I made Masumi promise to teach me how to cook this treat for myself. As the greatest ambassador ever to Japan, Masumi made my dream come true with a Saturday night cooking class.

Masumi and I met at the local supermarket at 5pm to get all the ingredients I would need to make gyoza. After getting the stuff Masumi didn't have in her refrigerator, we headed to Masumi's house. Masumi kept telling me that making gyoza was easy but I would disagree. There is a lot of preperation that goes into making gyoza. First, one has to chop all the ingredients. One of the ingredients was Chinese cabbage which looked oddly like an American football.

(PICTURE: Masumi could be the starting QB for the Cleveland Browns the way she can toss a Chinese cabbage.)

After cutting cabbage, leek, Chinese leek and ginger, I added it to minced pork. I started to smoosh the ingredients together when I noticed that Masumi had a skeptical look on her face. I asked what I was doing wrong and she said I wasn't smooshing hard enough. I put some muscle into my smooshing until the pork and veggies were properly mixed together.
(PICTURE: Me smooshing the pork and veggies.)

Next came the hardest part: folding the gyoza. Masumi showed me how to properly fold and made it look so easy. I then tried my first one and the gyoza ended up looking like a pierogi, far from being gyoza shaped. Kensuke, my second teacher, pointed out what I was doing wrong. I wasn't folding the outside of the gyoza back with each pinch. After a little adjustment, my gyoza quickly started to look professional.

(PICTURE: Kensuke giving me some folding tips.)

(PICTURE: My plate of gyoza.)

After shaping all the gyoza it was time to fry them. Masumi showed me how to carefully lay them in a pot with oil and then added water. She placed the top on the frying pan and a couple of minutes later we had 32 delicious gyoza (even the one that looked like a perogi was tasty).

(PICTURE: Gyoza frying time.)

If the gyoza weren't delicious enough, we placed them on top of amazing rice. When I first moved to Asia I couldn't really tell good rice from bad rice. I've now got a great sense of quality rice and the rice we at that night was phenomenal. Masumi told me after I finished my first plate that the rice was grown by her uncle.

(PICTURE: Teach a man to fish/make gyoza and he/you can eat for a lifetime.)

When I had originally told Masumi that we were gonna eat 30 gyoza I think she thought I was crazy. Well, we made 32 and ate all of them. I'm really proud of myself for this newfound skill. All of my family and friends should send Masumi and Kensuke a thank you as I'm sure everyone will one day get to taste my delicious gyoza! Thanks, Masumi and Kensuke!

(PICTURE: 32 gyoza were on this plate at one point.)