Pork Scaloppine with Lemon, Capers, and Arugula with Zucchini Pancakes


I’ve always loved to read cookbooks; I certainly grew up around plenty of them, along with every issue of Gourmet since the late 60s. We have three shelves in our own kitchen that are filled with cookbooks and another bookshelf in the living room that’s reserved for food magazines (because apparently it’s in my genes; I can’t throw them away). The cookbooks’ colorful bindings caught Levi’s eye at a young age. In fact, he invented a game with his grandma called “count the cookbooks” – we stand in front of the shelves and he makes his counting sound, which sounds like “one-two-one-two” repeated over and over, while pointing to as many as he can.

I’ve been drooling over this particular one for a while now; I bought it as a gift for my mom several years ago and just recently acquired it last Christmas, thanks to my aunt and uncle – Heart of the Artichoke by David Tanis. For more than 25 years, he was the chef at Alice Waters’ restaurant, Chez Panisse in Berkeley (retired in October), which I’ve mentioned before is one of my absolute favorite restaurants. The set menu in the fancy downstairs restaurant changes nightly and revolves around whatever fresh, seasonal ingredients are available on that particular day, and the café  upstairs offers seasonally inspired pastas, pizzas and more in a slightly more casual, kid-friendly environment. Heart of the Artichoke features several menus for each season, prefaced with a section called “Kitchen Rituals” where he shares 14 “cooking moments” – either small cooking projects for 1 or 2 people, or simply a food experience/memory, such as eating oatmeal for breakfast as a child.

This meal in the “Spring Menus” section was beckoning to me back in March, but I was jumping the gun a bit with my seasons and zucchini had not yet appeared at the store. Now that it’s June, it’s plentiful, and I’m glad that I saw the bookmark in my cookbook, reminding me to make pork scaloppine with zucchini pancakes! It’s a wonderful feeling when you sit down to dinner, take that first bite, and exclaim “hey, I’d pay for this.” That was the case for this meal, so naturally, I’m recommending this cookbook for those who strive to eat simply and by the seasons!

The thin slices of pork for the scaloppine come from the lean end of a boneless pork loin (ask your butcher to do this and hopefully yours will happily comply as ours did). They cook nice and quickly and remain tender. The sauce takes under 60 seconds to make but is full of bright flavors (in fact, if you decide to halve this recipe for a family of 2-3, I’d recommend making the full amount of sauce; it won’t go to waste). You simply heat olive oil in a skillet, add garlic, capers, lemon zest, and parsley and let it sizzle for just under a minute. You pour this awesome concoction on top of your slices of pork and top with verdant, peppery arugula and lemon wedges. You can see why taking that first bite made me happy. And I haven’t even gotten to the zucchini pancakes yet!


Grated zucchini and finely chopped green onion bound with egg and a little flour are fried in olive oil and scream “beginning of summer!” While they make a great accompaniment to the pork scaloppine, I plan on making them on their own as an appetizer sometime in the near future; Maybe topped with some minted yogurt or a dollop of fresh ricotta cheese. I made the zucchini pancakes first and kept them warm in a low oven while we cooked the pork (because we only have so many skillets), but they would be best eaten hot out of the pan!


Pork Scaloppine with Lemon, Capers, and Arugula

(From Heart of the Artichoke by David Tanis – Serves 4-6)

12 thin (about 3/8-inch-thick) slices pork loin
Salt & Pepper
1/2 cup olive oil (give or take)
2 TBS. roughly chopped parsley
2 tsp. grated lemon zest
1 TBS. capers, rinsed and roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 lb. arugula, chopped (we bought baby arugula and left the leaves whole)
Lemon wedges

  • Season both sides of the pork slices with salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil. Heat 2 cast iron skillets over medium-high heat. When the pans are hot, lay 6 slices of pork in each pan and cook for about 2 minutes, or until nicely browned. Turn and cook for another 2 minutes on the other side. Remove the scaloppine from the pans and transfer to a warm serving platter.
  • In one of the pans, heat 2 TBS. of olive oil over medium heat. Add the parsley, lemon zest, capers, and garlic and let sizzle for a bare minute. Turn off the heat. Spoon the sauce over the scaloppine and top each slice of pork with a handful of arugula. Garnish with lemon wedges and serve immediately.


Zucchini Pancakes

(Also from Heart of the Artichoke by David Tanis – Serves 4-6)

8 to 10 small zucchini, about 3 lbs.
2 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 bunch scallions, finely chopped
3 TBS. all-purpose flour
1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano (optional – we decided to omit this as we wanted a pure zucchini flavor, but Tanis says that adding the cheese reminds him of eating a zucchini frittata, which sounds delicious)
Olive oil for frying

  • Grate the zucchini using the medium holes of a box grater. Toss the grated zucchini with the salt and let drain in a colander for about 20 min. Squeeze very dry, using a clean kitchen towel.
  • In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs with the pepper and scallions. Add the flour, then add the grated zucchini and the cheese (if using). Mix thoroughly.
  • Pour olive oil into a cast iron skillet to a depth of 1/4 inch and heat over medium heat. Carefully place spoonfuls of the zucchini mixture into the pan and flatten into discs with a 2-inch diameter. Make a few at a time, so as not to overcrowd the pan. Turn them once, letting them cook for about 3-4 min. on each side or until golden. Keep the heat at moderate so they don’t brown too quickly. Serve immediately or transfer to a warm oven until the entire batch is cooked. Serve with the Pork Scaloppine.

That beer in the background? It was a German Hopf Helle Weisse – a type of Hefeweizen. It paired wonderfully with this meal.

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Sake-Steamed Clams with Sriracha Compound Butter


Seafood and I have come a long way. As a child and into my teenage years, I generally avoided it (except for the occasional tempura shrimp or in “fish and chip” form). Then when I was in college, I had several seafood dishes that expanded my horizons and changed my attitude towards things of the sea. One of them was the Garlic Baked Clams at Brophy Bros. Restaurant & Clam Bar, out on the Santa Barbara wharf.  Over glasses of white wine, my friend Lauren and I enjoyed this irresistible appetizer with a basket of sourdough bread one evening towards the end of our college careers. It was official – I was a clam convert.

So, last weekend on a blustery, rainy evening, the girl who used to avoid seafood was craving a big pot of steamed clams, with some crusty bread, and two of our best friends. There were a lot of clams, 7 lbs in fact, but we made short work of them. They were steamed in sake, topped with a Sriracha compound butter, a dash of togarashi (a Japanese spice blend of cayenne, orange peel, sesame seeds, and seaweed), and a scattering of scallions. We soaked up the flavorful broth, now enriched by the melted Sriracha butter, with a Gayle’s Capitola Sourdough baguette. It was a heavenly meal.


The original recipe calls for plain, unsalted butter that you put on top of the hot clams, but the idea of a Sriracha butter entered my brain (these are the friends with whom we do our “Sriracha Dinners” – if you remember such meals as the Ultimate Sriracha Burger, Camarones a la Diabla, or Miso-Sriracha Glazed Salmon with Spicy Slaw). It seemed right to continue the tradition, and we thought the Sriracha compound butter (recipe from The Sriracha Cookbook) added a little extra zip to the clams and a depth of flavor once it melted and incorporated into the broth. It was also pretty amazing spread on the sourdough bread 🙂

The recipe below serves 4 as a main dish.


Sake-Steamed Clams with Sriracha Compound Butter

(Slightly adapted from Food & Wine; recipe contributed by Nobuo Fukuda)

4 TBS. butter (1/2 a stick), at room temperature*
1 TBS. Sriracha
1 small garlic clove, minced
Salt
7 lbs. Manila clams, scrubbed
3 1/2 cups Sake (roughly 1-750 ml bottle)**
3 1/2 cups water
2 scallions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
a couple pinches of togarashi

* If you find yourself with leftover Sriracha compound butter, try using it to cook your fried eggs in the morning (yum), spread it on a bagel, top grilled steak or fish, or melt and drizzle onto popcorn. You really can’t go wrong.

** Chef Fukuda suggests using a cooking sake, or ryori, such as Shochikubai brand. We used a Gekkeikan sake from Trader Joe’s – just make sure whatever you choose is a dry sake.

  • Fill a medium bowl with cold water and add 1 tablespoon of salt. Add the clams and let stand for 1 hour. Drain the clams and rinse them well.
  • Meanwhile, make the Sriracha compound butter: Using a wooden spoon, mix the butter with the Sriracha and garlic until evenly incorporated. Scrape the butter out onto a large sheet of plastic wrap. Using the plastic wrap as a barrier between your hands and the butter, form the butter into a log shape, about 1 inch in diameter. Roll the butter up tightly, adjusting and maintaining the log form. Refrigerate for at least an hour to allow the butter to set up and the flavors to meld.
  • In a large, deep pot, combine the sake with the water and bring to a boil. Add the clams, cover the skillet tightly and cook, shaking the pan occasionally, until most of the clams have opened, about 4 minutes (ours took about twice as long to open, but maybe that’s because we were cooking 7 lbs instead of 2 lbs!)
  • Spoon the clams and broth into 4 bowls. Top  each bowl of clams with a slice of the Sriracha compound butter, garnish with the scallions and togarashi and serve immediately, along with sourdough bread to soak up the broth.

Taqueria Pickles


When I go to our favorite taqueria in town, I look forward to raiding the salsa bar after we pick up our al pastor tacos or carnitas burritos. Although I love the mild green tomatillo salsa, the smokey chipotle salsa, and the brightly colored salsa fresca, I go straight to the escabeche – pickled jalapenos with carrots and onion. They are so hot that one little bite of carrot needs to be chased with a big gulp of horchata, but they are so, so good. So good in fact that we decided to share the love this year by making our own version of “taqueria pickles” to give to our close family and friends for Christmas.

We turned to Alice Waters’ book The Art of Simple Food for guidance. It’s one of my mom’s favorite cookbooks and one that I often borrow because I love the simplicity of her recipes and how they highlight seasonal produce. While dining at Alice Waters’ restaurant Chez Panisse a couple years ago, I ordered a fall fruit bowl for dessert. The waitress presented me with a wooden bowl containing several sweet dates and a couple small seedless tangerines. This humble-looking dish was the perfect way to end a meal and paid tribute to the season. If you haven’t heard of her, Alice (let’s pretend the two of us are on a first name basis) is the pioneer of the “slow food movement,” which celebrates local, sustainable, fresh, and seasonal produce of the best quality. If you can’t make it out to Berkeley, California to eat at her restaurant, you should at least treat yourself to one of her cookbooks. It’s because of her that we pay attention to the little signs at our grocery store that tell us where our produce comes from.

We used Alice’s method for fresh-pickled vegetables, but added a generous amount of sliced jalapeños, as well as whole cumin seeds and coriander seeds to make them more “taqueria-style”. We also decided to can them so they’d last longer. Our taqueria doesn’t add cauliflower to theirs, but we thought it would be delicious – it was! (And since it’s in season, Alice would approve).

I also want to dedicate this post to Dustin’s grandma, who taught us the canning process. We love you and want you to know we’ll continue the annual canning tradition of making your bread & butter pickles, chile sauce, and strawberry jam! ❤


“Taqueria Pickles” (Spicy Pickled Jalapeños & Carrots)

(Adapted from Alice Waters’ recipe in her book The Art of Simple Food and the blog Simply Recipes)

jalapeños, thickly sliced
carrots, thickly sliced
red onion, sliced
cauliflower, cut into florets

apple cider vinegar
distilled white vinegar
sugar
bay leaf
coriander seeds
cumin seeds
dried oregano
garlic cloves (un-peeled)
garlic cloves, peeled and halved
salt

  • Wash, trim, and cut your vegetables.
  • For about 3 1/2 cups pickling brine*, combine 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar, 1 cup distilled white vinegar, 1 3/4 cup water, 2 1/2 TBS. sugar, 1/2 a bay leaf, 1/2 tsp. coriander seeds, 1/2 tsp. cumin seeds, pinch of dried oregano, 2 whole garlic cloves, 2 peeled and halved garlic cloves, and a pinch of salt.
  • Bring brine to a boil, then add the vegetables in the order of their cooking time, beginning with the vegetable which will take the longest. Add the carrots first and cook them until they are cooked through but  still a little bit crisp (simply scoop one out to test – about 20 minutes). When you think the carrots have about 10 minutes left to cook, add the jalapeños. Add the sliced onion and the cauliflower florets when you think the carrots are almost done – they will take only a few minutes.
  • If you want to can the pickles – transfer the hot vegetables into mason jars, and fill the tops of the jars with brine. Screw the lids on the jars and process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes. Remove from water and let them sit on the counter until you hear them “pop!” Then you’ll know they’re canned! Once opened, they’ll keep for a couple months in the refrigerator.
  • For refrigerator pickles, allow the vegetables to cool completely after being removed from the brine. Once the vegetables are cool and the pickling brine has cooled to room temperature, divide the vegetables between mason jars (or to another container) and cover with brine. Refrigerated, they will keep for a week. Enjoy with your favorite Mexican dishes.

* When we made our pickling brine, we didn’t measure any of the ingredients, but we kept in mind the ratios from the original recipe. Alice calls for 1 1/2 cups white wine vinegar (which, she says, you can easily sub with red wine vinegar) but we used apple cider vinegar and distilled white vinegar after reading other recipes for pickled jalapeños. We also didn’t use quite as much water as the recipe calls for. When it comes down to it, feel free to tweak things here and there. Taste the brine before you add the vegetables and add more sugar or vinegar or whatever you think it needs. Have fun with your food, and enjoy pickling the bounty of the season.

Butternut Squash Tart with Caramelized Onion, Rosemary & Coppa


Take-out was a temping last minute dinner option, but instead I found myself searching the freezer for something that I could turn into a suitable meal. We had planned to eat dinner at my parents’ house, but a wind storm ripped through Santa Cruz that day/evening, knocking out power to many, and even bringing trees down on top of houses. Luckily, the latter did not happen to my parents’ house, but no power and a tree blocking their road meant a definite plan B.


Back to the freezer search. The first thing that caught my eye was puff pastry, an impulse purchase I had made last week. How fortuitous! I decided I wanted to make some sort of puff pastry tart or “pizza.” Now, what to top it with … ah! Half a butternut squash, peeled and cubed that I froze last week. This would do. I added some fresh rosemary from the garden, caramelized our last onion, and cut up some coppa (one of our favorite charcuterie offerings from El Salchichero) to add a little salty kick. This rustic puff pastry tart was a success. Feel free to adapt this for whatever needs to get used in your freezer on a stormy evening. It would also make a lovely appetizer when cut into squares.

Butternut Squash, Caramelized Onion & Rosemary Tart

(Adapted from A Cozy Kitchen)

1 yellow onion, sliced
Extra virgin olive oil
Butter
1 cup cubed butternut squash
Flour, for dusting work surface
1 sheet frozen puff pastry
1/4 cup coppa, diced (can also use salami, or cooked, crumbled bacon or pancetta)
Pecorino Romano cheese, grated (enough for sprinkling on top)
Mozzarella cheese, shredded (about 3 ounces)
Fresh rosemary, chopped
Salt and pepper

  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  • In a medium skillet, heat olive oil and a little pad of butter over medium high heat. Once oil is hot, add sliced onions and pinch of salt. Cook until caramelized, about 25-30 minutes, stirring frequently. When onions are a beautiful light golden brown color, add a splash of balsamic vinegar. Stir to coat the onions, then remove from heat.
  • While onions are caramelizing, place cubed butternut squash (if frozen, defrosted first) on a parchment lined baking sheet and roast for 15-20 minutes, or until tender with a fork, stirring halfway through. Turn oven heat down to 400 degrees.
  • On a floured surface, roll the puff pastry into a rectangle (or square – whatever – it’s a rustic tart!) Carefully transfer puff pastry onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Using a sharp knife, lightly “score” the pastry dough, 1-inch in from the edges. Then using a fork, poke holes inside the markings. This will ensure that the outside trim puffs up and the middle stays flat. Bake for 15 minutes, or until slightly golden brown.
  • Scatter mozzarella cheese and some the Pecorino Romano over the puff pastry. Next, top with the roasted butternut squash, caramelized onions, rosemary, and sliced coppa. Finish with a little more pecorino. Sprinkle with salt & pepper.
  • Return to oven and bake for 15 minutes more, or until cheese is melted and edges are golden brown. Slice and serve.

Portobello Mushrooms with Creamy Spinach-Artichoke Filling


This Thanksgiving we survived an 8 hour car ride with a toddler down to San Diego, where Levi had his first zoo experience. He was excited about every animal he encountered but was especially enamored by the elephants. Once Levi was tuckered out, we headed back to my mother-in-law’s house, where we watched plenty of football, drank plenty of San Diego micro-brews, and had quite a feast: a turkey breast roulade stuffed with brandied fig & cranberry stuffing, gravy, sweet potato gratin, and sautéed brussels sprouts with pancetta, shallot, mushrooms, and balsamic (which actually converted one member of the family who was a self-professed brussels sprouts hater. I was so proud). For dessert we indulged in a vanilla bean cake with salted caramel frosting. It was a wonderful evening and we went to bed feeling thankful for family and the way in which good food and drink bring us together.


As we’re entering the Christmas season and there’s a definite chill in the air, I’ve been allowing the oven to do most of the cooking in the evening, which frees us to relax and focus on the things that are important, like playing with our ever-changing, ever-moving 19 month old.

Spinach-artichoke dip is one of my favorite appetizers to bring to parties, so I associate it with festive gatherings. We were pleased to bring that spirit of festivity into a weeknight dinner. Portobello mushroom caps are filled with a spinach-artichoke filling and then topped with seasoned panko breadcrumbs. The end result is nothing short of comforting – the perfect hybrid of stuffed mushrooms and spinach-artichoke dip. For a side dish, I roasted some cubed butternut squash with olive oil, thyme, and sage. Even Levi could not resist their caramelized edges. A salad of mixed greens with apple & pomegranate seeds completed the meal.

We wish you many comforting meals during this season of Advent (break out the good wine!) with the people you love, enjoying every last bite.


Portobello Mushrooms with Creamy Spinach-Artichoke Filling

(From the Dec 11/Jan 12 issue of Fine Cooking)

3 TBS. olive oil 
3 medium cloves garlic, minced (1 TBS.) 
4 medium portabello mushrooms, stemmed, gills removed*
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
3 TBS. mayonnaise  
1-1/2 tsp. fresh thyme
9 to 10 oz. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry**
9 oz. frozen artichokes, thawed, lightly squeezed dry, and chopped*** 
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/3 cup finely grated Romano cheese

* Fine Cooking recommended using a butter knife – it worked great!
** I used fresh baby spinach, sautéed, squeezed, and roughly chopped
*** I used marinated artichokes for more flavor, drained and roughly chopped

  • Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 450°F.
  • In a small bowl, combine 2 TBS. of the oil and about two-thirds of the minced garlic. Brush the insides of the mushroom caps with the garlic oil and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Arrange the mushrooms oiled side up on a rimmed baking sheet and roast until just tender, about 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, mix the cream cheese, mayonnaise, and 1/2 tsp. of the thyme with the back of a wooden spoon. Stir in the spinach and artichokes and season to taste with salt and pepper. In another medium bowl, combine the remaining garlic, 1 TBS. oil, and 1 tsp.  thyme with the breadcrumbs and cheese.
  • Spoon the artichoke mixture evenly into the mushroom caps and sprinkle with the breadcrumb mixture. Bake until the crumbs are golden-brown and the filling is hot, about 10 minutes. Serve immediately.

Buffalo Chicken Rolls


I love the foods that are associated with football, but I’m not a huge football watcher. I do, however, remember hanging out in the living room with my uncle and grandpa the weekend before Thanksgiving, while they watched “the big game” – Cal versus Standford. I learned how to shout “Go Bears!” with much enthusiasm. I probably learned how to shout some other phrases too that weren’t quite as wholesome. Since those days, I find the background noise of a football game on TV oddly comforting, even though I don’t really have a desire to sit down and watch a game from start to finish.

When I found out that the theme of this Recipe Swap was Tailgating/Appetizers, I still wanted to participate, despite my lack of tailgating experience. I happen to know that delicious foods are present while watching football, things involving melted cheese, fried goodies, and perhaps buffalo sauce. Yes, please. Not every day, but it’s fun to indulge once in a while, whether or not you’re watching football. Grilled Sriracha “Poppers” were our contribution to the swap; Buffalo Chicken Rolls were assigned to me.


These rolls are everything you love about buffalo wings, wrapped up neatly in an egg roll wrapper and baked until crispy and golden. When you bite into them, you get a combination of spicy buffalo chicken and cooling blue cheese crumbles. We agreed that the shredded cabbage and carrots were overpowered by the strong flavors of the buffalo chicken and blue cheese and didn’t add much, but I definitely understand wanting to add something fresh to the rolls. If we made these again, we’d probably just serve the traditional celery and carrots and blue cheese dip next to the buffalo chicken rolls, or maybe a slaw.

Also, while we appreciated the ease (and possible health benefits) of baking instead of frying, we think these would have been even better if they had been pan-fried in oil or deep-fried so that all surfaces of the egg roll wrappers could have gotten crispy; We found some of the edges to be a little undercooked when they came out of the oven. But putting these minor things aside, this is a fun appetizer with bold flavors that are sure to please the crowds, whether you’re tailgating, entertaining your friends, or just looking for something fun for dinner.


Buffalo Chicken Rolls

(Slightly adapted from Taste and See; originally from Can you Stay for Dinner?)

5 TBS. butter
3/4 cup Crystal Hot Sauce (or your preferred hot sauce)
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
2 cups chicken, shredded (we bought a rotisserie chicken and shredded it ourselves)
1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled blue cheese
1/2 a head of Napa cabbage, shredded, tossed with 1/2 of a medium carrot, grated*
12-15 egg roll wrappers
Small bowl of water
Vegetable or Canola oil
Blue cheese dressing or Ranch dressing for dipping

*The original recipe calls for a bag of cole slaw mix, something we’ve never bought (and come to think of it, have never noticed at our natural foods store), so we decided to buy fresh cabbage and shred it ourselves instead. I added some grated carrot too.

  • Melt the butter in a medium sauce pan over low heat, stirring until completely melted. Add the hot sauce and the garlic powder. Stir to incorporate. Add the sauce to the shredded chicken. If you want less heat, use less sauce, but we pretty much used it all! Mix until the chicken is moistened with the sauce.
  • Preheat oven to 400-degrees F. Lay egg roll wrappers on a clean work surface. Begin by placing one tablespoon of the shredded cabbage/carrot mixture on the diagonal of the bottom right corner of one of the wrappers. Next, place 2 tablespoons of shredded buffalo chicken evenly on top of the slaw. Sprinkle some blue cheese crumbles over the chicken. Do not overfill.
  • To fold: Fold the bottom right corner over the stuffing mixture so that it covers it completely, with the tip of the corner now pointing to the center of the egg roll wrapper. Fold in the bottom left corner, followed by the right, so that you now have formed an envelope. Roll the wrap upward one time, leaving the top left corner open. Wet your index finger in the small bowl of water and press to moisten the top left corner. Now fold that down on top of the filled roll, sealing it like you would an envelope.

(Unfortunately, I didn’t take a picture of the assembly process – if you’re a visual person like me and need some great photos to see how to do this, check out the original recipe here).

  • Repeat with remaining rolls.
  • Place the rolls on a greased wire rack set on top of a cookie sheet. Brush the rolls lightly with oil or spritz with cooking spray. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until rolls are golden brown, flipping the rolls halfway through. Allow to cool for several minutes before serving with blue cheese or ranch for dipping.

Gyoza


Thank goodness for gyoza. It sustained us for a couple evenings during that first week in Japan when we were still jet-lagged, everything felt so foreign, and we hadn’t yet learned how to navigate our supermarket across the street. When we got up the courage to walk in, we were bombarded with bright florescent lights, foreign sounds, and (hallelujah) the prepared foods section, where we were immediately drawn to something familiar – plastic packages containing 6 perfectly browned gyoza, with a packet of dipping sauce on the side. We threw several packages into our basket, fumbled our way through the check-out line, and made it home. We heated them up in a pan (the one pan that was in our furnished apartment), poured the prepared dipping sauce packet into a small bowl, and made our first batch of rice in our rice cooker. It was one of our first dinners in our little Japanese apartment, and to this day we still talk about how delicious and comforting that supermarket’s gyoza was. It was also a good opportunity to practice our chopstick skills before going out in public :).


Toward the end of our two and a half years in Japan (and after buying countless packages of that prepared gyoza), we finally learned how to make it from one of our dear friends and colleagues, a woman named Chihiro. We sat around a table one spring afternoon, spooning a ground pork and cabbage mixture into gyoza wrappers and pinching the ends together. Even though we didn’t have much proficiency in each other’s languages, we still managed to share plenty of stories and laughs. It’s amazing how food crosses language and cultural barriers and brings people together. We hope that you’ll try this recipe and enjoy assembling the gyoza with the people you care about as well.


Sadly, in the move from Japan back to California, the recipe that Chihiro shared with us got lost in the shuffle. To make this gyoza, I looked at several recipes to try to find something similar. We ended up using Morimoto’s recipe, but added several things to the filling, including minced garlic, fresh ginger, a splash of soy sauce and sake, and sesame oil.


Gyoza

(Adapted from Morimoto: The New Art of Japanese Cooking)

For the Gyoza:

3 cups finely shredded Napa cabbage
2 green onions, chopped
1 TBS. coarse salt
1 lb. ground pork, preferably something on the fatty side like shoulder
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 garlic clove, minced
1 TBS. soy sauce
1 TBS. sake
1 TBS. sesame oil
1 package gyoza wrappers (10-12 oz.)
1/4 cup vegetable oil

For the Dipping Sauce:

soy sauce
seasoned rice vinegar (if unseasoned, add salt & sugar to taste)
sesame oil
agave nectar
Japanese chili pepper blend (Nanami Togarashi)
water to dilute

  • Toss the cabbage with the chopped green onions and the salt in a medium bowl. Let stand for 10 minutes or until cabbage is very wilted. Rinse and drain in a colander. Squeeze the cabbage and green onions, a handful at a time, to extract as much liquid as possible.
  • Place the cabbage and green onions in a mixing bowl. Add the ground pork, pepper, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, sake, and sesame oil. Add a tiny pinch of salt, but not too much because the cabbage has already been salted. Mix everything together gently, but thoroughly.
  • Fill a small bowl with water. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and dust it with cornstarch. Place 1-2 teaspoons of the pork and cabbage filling into the center of a gyoza wrapper. Dip your finger into the water and moisten the edges of the wrapper. Bring one edge of the wrapper up over the filling to meet the other edge. Press the edges together firmly. Place the gyoza on the parchment pepper, plumping the bottom of the gyoza so that it stands with the pinched-together part facing up. Repeat with remaining filling and wrappers. Cover and refrigerate until ready to cook (can be made up to 4 hours ahead).
  • Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Heat 2 TBS. of the oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until the oil is very hot but not sizzling. Place half the gyoza in the skillet, pinched part up, letting the gyoza touch each other (traditionally, they are served attached to each other, but it’s fine if they don’t!) Let cook for several minutes. Add 2/3 cup of water to the skillet and cover tightly. Cook for 5 minutes, adding more water if it evaporates before the 5 minutes is up. Cook until water is evaporated and the gyoza are nicely browned on the bottoms, about 7 minutes total. Invert the gyoza onto a platter and place in the oven to keep warm. Repeat with remaining 2 TBS. of oil and gyoza. Depending on the size of your skillet, you might need to do a third batch, adding a little extra oil.
  • To make the dipping sauce, combine equal parts soy sauce and rice vinegar in a small bowl. Add a little splash of sesame oil, a sprinkle of Japanese  chili pepper blend, and a little agave nectar for sweetness. Stir together. Add water to dilute the sauce slightly. Taste and adjust amount of water or ingredients until it tastes right to you. It should be a nice balance of salty, sweet, and sour, with a little spice.
  • Serve the gyoza with a bowl of steamed rice and the dipping sauce on the side. Add a salad with sesame dressing and you have a comforting Japanese dinner!