Monday, January 27, 2014

The Very Best Gyoza!

Our Homemade Gyoza with wings!

This is definitely our dinner favorite. Our kids love them especially our oldest. He used to tell me he won't move out of our house when he grows up because he wants to keep eating Gyoza that I make. (I should stop making them!)

From nutritional standpoint these little dumplings are almost perfect. Each dumpling has some carbohydrates (wrapper, wheat), protein (ground pork), vegetable (cabbage and hakusai etc.) and to top it off, it has some nature's powerful antioxidant and anti-cancer agents - ginger and garlic!!

Even when I was growing up my mom have always made Gyoza. But I was surprised to find that not too many people actually make Gyoza at home. They would buy pre-made at a supermarket or from a restaurant.

Yes they are sort of time consuming, well at least wrapping the filling but I really think it's worth it in the end when you and your family taste the finished products! And besides you can shorten the process by using a food processor!

Enough babbling, let's get us started!

Yields to about 50 gyoza (4 servings)

  • Ground pork about 1lb or 500g
  • Finely chopped cabbage  1 1/2 cup (about 400ml)
  • Finely chopped hakusai  1 1/2 cup (about 400ml)
  • Finely chopped half an onion
  • Finely chopped green onion 1 cup
  • Sake (rice wine)  1 tbsp
  • Oyster sauce  2 tbsp (preferably non MSG kind)
  • Sesame oil 2 tbsp
  • Finely chopped fresh ginger 2 tbsp
  • Finely chopped or grated garlic 1 tbsp
  • Fresh ground black pepper 1 pinch
  • Potato starch (or any starch)  2 tbsp
  • Gyoza wrapper (50 or so)
  1. Finely chop all the veggies except garlic and ginger. Remove any excess moisture from the veggie by squeezing gently with your hands. Place them in a big bowl. You can use food processor as I did to chop all the veggies.

  2. Cut the prep time dramatically by using a food processor!

  3. Sprinkle the potato starch in with the veggies and mix well with a spoon. Set aside.
  4. In a separate medium bowl mix together the meat, chopped ginger, garlic and black pepper. Knead the mixture using your hands until well combined. 
  5. Combine the meat mixture to the veggie mixture and add oyster sauce, sake, and sesame oil and mix well with your hands until it becomes somewhat sticky.
  6. Get your hands dirty and sticky.
  7. Prepare a large serving plate or a cookie sheet dusted with flour. Wrap the filling with gyoza wrappers. Wrapping gyoza takes practice, you may want to watch this youtube video to learn how. (Not my video!)

  8. All wrapped up and good to go.
  9. They are all wrapped up and ready to be cooked now. You may freeze these uncooked if there are too much for one go. If you decided to freeze them make sure to transfer them onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or they will stick in the process. Once frozen you can put them all in a ziploc bag.
  10. Heat a frying pan on medium and add about 1tbsp of vegetable oil.
    This is how I usually cook my gyoza as with this layout I can cook many at the same time as well it looks like a flower! And I LOVE FLOWERS!!

    Fry until the bottoms of the dumplings looks toasty brown. Don't worry they don't need to be cooked all the way though at this point. We are just giving them the appetizing color and crusts.
    Don't they look lovely :)

  11. Add about 1/2 cup of water to the pan and cover. Lower the heat if needed to cook through for about 5 minutes.
  12. Now it's time to cook them through!
  13. Remove the lid and continue cooking to crisp the outside of gyoza. Try not to burn them!
  14. Place a plate that is a size smaller than the pan onto gyoza and flip the pan to transfer all the stickers onto a plate.
  15. It's OK to totally flip sometimes!
*EXTRA* How to make "Winged" Gyoza! *EXTRA*Now that you learned how to make regular gyoza, I will show you how to make your ordinary gyoza to kicked up a giving them wings!

"hanetsuki gyoza" is how Japanese call these gyoza and it literally translates to "winged gyoza".  We call those extra crunchy bits around each gyoza "hane" - wings. The wings add pleasant extra crunch like crackers and visual effect.

  1. Follow the directions above for regular gyoza to Step 7.
  2. In Step 8, mix 1tbsp of flour into 1/2 cup of water to add to the pan to steam cook, covered about 5 minutes until they are cooked all the way though.
  3. Remove the lid and continue cooking to crisp the outside of gyoza and to make the wings around the gyoza. Remember it will take longer than when you are making regular gyoza. Try not to burn them!

Also check out my page of this recipe for step-by-step instruction with photos!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

New Year already??

Wow what happened there? I haven't been updating my blog for almost a year! Time really does fly I guess.

I have been busy keeping up with 3 boys of course and on top of that, I have finished English to Japanese translation course.

And in Summer last year for a 5 weeks I stayed in Japan after nearly 5 years of not going back. It was surreal going back to Japan after such a long time and after such a traumatic event, 3.11.

It was almost like having a "reverse culture-shock" at the begging of our stay there but soon I got used to it and my boys and I enjoyed our stay in Japan very much.

Anyway here is a picture re-cap of last years events.

Fruits topped cheesecake I made for my oldest son's

A femaleTaiko drummer playing
at a local Tanabata Festival.

Colorful decorations of Tanabata.

We had a blast at Akasawa Forest Therapy Park
Agematsu, Nagano

Magnificent view of Matsumoto City

Mikoshi and the mikoshi fellows at local autumn festival.

My hometown is famous for these "Gohei-mochi".
They are so yummy!
Last but not least, here is some information about the park and other I mentioned above.

Akasawa Forest Therapy Park

Gohei Mochi

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Kinton Ramen - 金とんラーメン

It's Family Day weekend here in Canada. Since there wasn't any hockey practice for my oldest son today, we decided to visit one of the Ramen restaurants that are creating quite a buzz around here.

First we went to "San To Ka (山頭火)". When we arrived it was way past 1 pm and I thought for sure we were gonna miss lunch rush hour but we were wrong. There were well over 10 people waiting in front of us and it was freezing cold day. It was too cold for my baby so we had to pass this time.

So we decided to try another Ramen shop which opened last May (2012), "Kinton Ramen(金とんラーメン)" It is situated among interesting restaurants on Baldwin and Beverly. We had better luck here.
Inside Kinton Ramen (Photo by Renée S.)

Their seats are mostly counter seats but they had a small area in the back where a group of people can sit together. They even had high chairs! Our waiter was really nice and took us back to that "family" area in no time.

Kinton Ramen calls themselves a "Noodle Bar" so they also have a small bar near the entrance and like a bar, music was a little bit too loud for my liking.

As for the food, you can customize your Ramen to your liking by selecting how rich you want the broth to be, you can choose one of three options light being the least rich and heavy being really rich. I went for regular, which is in the middle of those two options, I assumed.

You can also choose what kind of meat (Chashu) you want on your Ramen, belly being fatty and rich or shoulder butt which is leaner. I had to go with belly...I just love how well cooked pork belly taste in the noodle.

I ordered Miso (soy bean paste) for my broth and this is what I got.
Kinton Ramen - Miso, regular richness with belly.
The noodles were perfectly cooked, al dente. The meat was also cooked perfectly and I really liked that they sear the meat with a burner right before they served. I could taste the extra flavor the process created.

I expected the broth to be rich but it was not. It was almost to the point that it was kind of bland, I was    more than a little bit disappointed. I have been missing eating nice rich Tonkotsu Ramen. My son ordered Shoyu (soy sauce) and it was strangely almost too salty.

My husband ordered Spicy Miso and although he really liked it I thought it was also bland.

Portion size was good, we all got full before we finished all our food.

Overall, I thought Kinton Ramen was OK but not great. I might come back and try the richest broth option and see if I like it that way next time.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Ikinari Dango (aka Imokoi)

Ikinari Dango also known as Imokoi
We got snowed in on Friday, school was off my husband took a day off work as well. I had extra helping hands for the kids so I made "Ikinari Dango".

"Ikinari Dango" roughly translates to "Dango (cake made with rice flour) out of the blue". It's a very interesting naming, don't you think? I read that because they can be made quickly even when a visitor come to your house out of the blue.

It still took me almost an hour or more to prepare them but I guess during the old days without a microwave oven or convenience stores 1 hour was considered quick...good old days.

And in Kyushu where some nice sweet potatoes are in abundance you can find all these ingredients without going out to a store or wherever they went in those days.

This is also known as "Imokoi" in around Kawagoe, Saitama. Imo means potatoes and Koi means's pretty much self-explanatory!

In Canada, this type of sweet potato that I used to make the sweets used to be really difficult to find. But thanks to the cultural diversity in this nation now I can get this purple goodness without any hustle, in any supermarkets nearby.

You can also find the recipe of this sweets at .

This is not really something you have to be absolutely precise with measurements or on each steps, it's peasant food after all. So do experiment to suit your own liking!

Yields to 12 - 15 dango. (depending on the size of the potato)
  • All purpose flour 150g
  • Glutenous rice flour (Mochiko) 80g
  • Rice flour (Komeko or Joshinko) 20g
  • Salt 1/2 tsp
  • Hot water 150cc
  • Purple sweet potato 1 medium (about 200 - 250g)
  • Tsubu-an (red bean paste, not strained) 200 - 250g
  1. Measure all the ingredients.
  2. Wash sweet potato well and slice it into about 1cm (1/2 inch) thickness immediately soaking them in salted water). You may peel the skin if you like, or you can even cut the potato thicker. 
    Soak the sweet potato in salted water
    to prevent from tuning brown.
  3. In a large bowl, mix together all the flour and salt with a fork. Slowly add hot water. (Please be careful) and mix thoroughly. The mixture looks crumbly and that's OK at this point.
  4. With your hands now knead the dough until smooth and elastic. (again be careful the dough is hot!) It should be about the softness of your earlobe. If it's too hard add more hot water, little bit at a time.Wrap or cover the dough and let it rest for 15 to 20 mins.
    Scoop anko onto a slice of sweet potato
  5. Take out the only slice of potato you are about to wrap, wash it under running water and pat dry. Scoop anko on the potato as seen above.
  6. Take out some dough, about the size a little bit bigger than a golf ball and spread it to about 3mm thickness using palms of your hands and fingers. You can use a rolling pin also.
    Wrap the dough gently working with your hands
  7. Place sweet potato in the center of the dough, anko side down.Wrap the dough around the sweet potatoes using both of your palms.
  8. Close the edges of the dough at the bottom with the tips of your fingers.
  9. Place dangos in a hot steamer. Give plenty of space in between as they puff up and stick together. Also it's a good idea to put a cotton cloth or waxpaper down at the bottom of the steamer to prevent the dango from sticking.
  10. Steam in high heat for 30 mins or until a toothpick goes through the whole dango easily.
  11. Serve them hot and fresh just out of the steamer otherwise after they are cooled down enough to be handled (should be still warm.) wrap them with a plastic wrap individually to prevent hardening.They are nice too at the room temperature!
  12. When you need to reheat, heat them in a hot steamer or microwave it for 30 seconds.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Japanese Soft and Fluffy Bread - Syoku-Pan 食パン

Multigrain Shoku-Pan. A healthier Version of my Shoku-Pan

As I mentioned in, Japanese Shoku-Pan used to be something I really miss from Japan.

Yeah I know, they have a lot of nice bread here in Canada but nothing is like Shoku-Pan that I was use to eat growing up in Japan.

They are fluffy and soft, kind of like a sponge cake except it's not really sweet. When toasted it is crispy on the surface yet if you bite into it, it's moist and chewy on the inside.

It took me a while to formulate the perfect recipe. It wouldn't have been this much of a project if I had a Japanese bread maker. (Many of my Japanese friends tried making a loaf with ingredients available in Canada and had a great success.)

And when I really missed eating Japanese bread unfortunately coincided with the time of that huge earthquake and the arrival of my 2 babies so going back to Japan and get me a bread machine wasn't an option.

Then I found out that you can buy Japanese style Shoku-Pan from T&T Supermarket but when I tried it, it was just way too sweet and it had funny aftertaste.

So the next thing I did was to try to make Shoku-Pan with a Canadian bought bread maker like you see below.

Oster Bread maker. This guy's been with us for more than 10 years.

I just used the recipe for Shoku-Pan that I found on . And the bread I got was a disaster. I don't remember well exactly how it was like, but it was totally different from what I had in mind.

Next, I only used the dough setting and did the rest (second proofing etc.) by myself. Then I only had pound cake pans so I used those.

And this is what I got! I was pretty happy with the result, and the texture and the softness was pretty awesome if I can say so myself. But I wasn't 100% satisfied yet.

Yes, the shape of it wasn't that of a Shoku-Pan I knew.

So I went of the Net and found Shoku-Pan Pans!

12cm X 12cm Professional grade Shoku-Pan Pan 630 Yen

I asked my mom to send these to me and when I finally got them, I tweaked the recipe I had a little bit and the bread was perfect. I have been making my Shoku-Pan with this recipe ever since.

Below is the recipe of my Shoku-Pan. You can also find it at

Ingredients (yields to 2 square Shoku-Pan)
  • 340ml Water
  • 50g Butter (measured and melted)
  • 2 tsp Salt
  • 460g Bread flour
  • 40g Cake & Pastry flour
  • 40g Granulated suger
  • 5g Yeast
  1. Measure all the ingredients. Melt the butter.
  2. In the bread maker pan put all the ingredients in the order shown above in "Ingredients" section. (water-->butter-->salt-->flour-->sugar--> yeast)
  3. Put the pan in the bread maker and choose dough setting. Once it starts to move, add seeds and grains if you choose to use them.
  4. Scrape the side of the pan with a spatula from time to time so the dough gets mixed evenly. And also this is the good time to check your dough. If it's too soft (sticking to the pan) add some flour, half a table spoon at a time. Or if it's too hard (you hear dough knocking hard on the side of the pan) add water, half a table spoon at a time.*
  5. After the dough cycle is done (mine takes about 1 hour and 30 mins.) Remove the dough from the pan and divide into two equally sized balls. On a floured surface, knead each dough balls lightly squeezing out big air bubbles.
  6. Let them rest for 20 mins in room temperature, covered with a damp paper towel or a cloth.
  7. Knead the dough gently again to push out big air bubbles from the dough.
  8. Put the dough in a greased pan (I use Pam spray for that) and proof the dough for 1 hour or until the dough is about 80% of the height of the pan. (I know I have over proofed a bit this time.)
  9. I know I over proofed a bit this time.
  10. You can leave the lids open to make English style (dome shape, shown in a pic below) Shokupan or close the lid to make normal ones. (square)
  11. English style Shoku-Pan
  12. Preheat the oven to 392 Fahrenheit or 200 Celsius and bake for 18 mins.
  13. Remove the bread from the pans immediately and cool on the wire rack until the bread is cool to touch.
  14. Put the bread in plastic bags to keep them soft and moist.
*The dough is supposed to be on the soft side, so try not to ass too much flour or it might mess up the ratio and therefore not so fluffy bread. 

The Pans I use are pre-baked with oil several times to prevent the dough from sticking. Nevertheless you have to grease the pan every time. I used to grease the pans with butter but now I find PAM spray works the best.

The other thing you should remember is that once you pre-baked these pans, you should not wash them after each use or ever, actually. If you accidentally washed them for some reason you have to pre-bake the pans again.

And finally I introduce you to a neat tool for slicing bread.

For those who can't slice their bread evenly. You can fit English style bread as well. You can choose different thickness (25mm, 20mm, 15mm and 10mm)

You can get this neat tool here.

Shoku-Pan Slicer 1,344 Yen at Rakuten.

    About this site

    Over the years living in Canada, some friends asked me recipes of some of my cooking, so I decided to create a blog introduces my recipes translated in English.

    Currently I use and also to show people the recipes with easy to follow steps. I quite like since you can add a picture on each process and you don't have to wait for 24 hours for it to be published.

    On either sites, I don't really have too many contents just yet - if you have small kids to take care of, you know you don't have much time to spare for yourself. :)

    Aside from translating recipes, I am thinking posting other things such as Japanese culture, Japanese neat gadgets and some interesting articles translated into English.

    Anyway thanks for stopping by and I hope you enjoy my recipes & blog.