Guo tie or pot-stickers, as they are often called, is a comfort dish almost every Asian person ate growing up. These dumplings are typically served pan fried, but can be boiled or steamed, and are made with different types of fillings, dependent on region.
There’s a lot of history and speculation of the origin of guo tie. One popular theory states that pot-stickers were created in the East by a traditional Chinese herbalist who wanted to treat people suffering from frostbitten ears. Chinese medicine includes many different types of food, herbs and spices that are said to have healing qualities – so the Chinese doctor used traditional medicines that were meant to warm up the body and put them into wrappers so that those who suffered could eat it along with broth. Another theory is that pot-stickers were created to emulate the look of yuanbao (an ancient currency made of gold) – which many believed would bring prosperity – hence eating them during the Chinese New Year.
Typically, guo tie is made by searing one side and then steaming it to create that crispy but soft texture. Guo tie is so ingrained in Chinese culture, that they are enjoyed every day from being a great snack or part of a meal. Nowadays, you can find these dumplings easily at your local grocery store in the frozen section with a variety of different fillings.
Gyozas in Japan were made popular more recently than most traditional Japanese dishes. Originating from (you guessed it) China, World War II Japanese soldiers first encountered the jiaozi in China and brought the dumplings back to Japan.
The difference between gyoza and Chinese dumplings is the filling. In Japan, gyozas are typically filled with ground pork, cabbage, chives, green onion, ginger, garlic, soy sauce and sesame oil but very fine in texture. The gyoza wrappers tend to be thinner and the gyoza itself is smaller but longer than jiaozi.
Gyozas are served with a sauce that consists of soy sauce and rice vinegar (and sometimes chili oil). You’ll find gyozas in ramen shops, izakaya (pub type restaurants) and in specialized gyoza restaurants. The most common are the pan-fried gyozas (called yaki gyoza) which is fried on one side for crispiness, then steamed in a bath of water.
Much like its counterpart, there are three ways that gyozas can be prepared: pan fried (yaki gyoza), boiled (sui gyoza) and deep fried (age gyoza). By and large, yaki gyoza are the most popular in restaurants. A good gyoza consists of well-chopped and combined ingredients on the inside that are not too salty, bundled together with a thin wrapper that still has a bit of snap to it.
There are two restaurants that come to mind when I think of enjoying a plate of either guo tie or gyoza along the Richmond Dumpling Trail: Dinesty and 4 Stones Vegetarian Restaurant.
I mentioned 4 Stones Vegetarian Restaurant in a recent post and while their gyozas aren’t made the traditional way with pork, they’re still an interesting take on gyozas and worth a visit. I’m sure you could fool a meat eater taking them to 4 Stones.
Dinesty is most loved for its xiao long bao, as well as the other great dishes at the restaurant. But next time you visit, order a plate of their pan fried pork pot stickers. They’re served piping hot, crispy and with the delicious soy-vinegar dipping sauce that elevates the flavours. They’re perfectly delicious on their own as well.
Don’t forget to enter the Trail Graze and Win contest that includes return tickets for two to Richmond, a two-night stay and a guided dumpling tour with a Chinese food expert!
For more information on how to enter and official rules, make sure to check out the Dumpling Trail website.