Saturday, January 22, 2011

Italian meets Chinese in my (Americanized Japanese) kitchen

Even though the dumplings are Chinese dish, they were normal home cooking in Japan.  I remember I learned how to wrap them at age 4.  I was so happy when I was able to do it as well as my mother.  I thought I was quite good at it since mine come out better than my aunt who has been to China lots of times and is good at Chinese cooking.  But I recently found out that one of my Japanese friend is amazing at it.  She can wrap one beautifully in 5 seconds.  I really should have recorded it and put it on Youtube.

Looking at the picture above, they look like nothing special.  But these dumpling are called "Italian Gyoza" at my home and everybody loves them.  (Gyoza means dumpling in Japanese.)  It's just Italian like ingredients wrapped with Chinese dumpling wrappers.  It might sound weird, but pasta is originated in China and came from the Silk Road, so maybe it is fine.

This is actually my father's recipe.  He lived in Rome when he was young and came back to Tokyo with lots of Italian recipes.  Therefore, I grew up eating lots of olive oil, tomatoes, garlic, and anchovies.  But to tell you the truth, he never cooked this recipe himself.  He just came up with the idea and my mother materialized it.  I recently asked where the idea came from.  I though it came from ravioli.  But he told me that it was calzone.  The size is a lot different, but I guess wrapping tomato sauce and cheese together by flour dough is exactly same.  

One package of Round dumpling wrappers (about 50 skins)
Small can of crashed tomatoes, pureed tomatoes or even left over marinara sauce
1/3 eggplant
Mozzarella cheese (hard)
a can of anchovies
Olive oil
< 1 > Cut the eggplant into 3/8 inch cubes and sauté in olive oil.  Let it cool.
< 2 > cut the cheese 3/8 inch cubes, too.
< 3 > Drain and chop anchovies to 1/4 inch pieces.  I usually do this with kitchen sears in the can so I don't make mess on cutting board.
< 4 > Put a tiny bit of tomato sauce, eggplant, cheese, and anchovy and wrap with the skin.  
< 5 > Fry them with olive oil and eat immediately while the cheese is still melty.

It's best to eat these with fingers so these make a great casual appetizer.  But we love these so much so we usually make salad and have these as main course.
Yesterday, I cooked eggplant wrapped in the foil in the oven with a little bit of oil to avoid too much oil in the wrapper.  It worked well, too.
It might be difficult to wrap the skin comparing to wrapping ground meat stuffing.  The key is not to put too much things inside.

There are different ways of wrap dumplings.  Please watch this to wrap like how they are wrapped in the pictures.

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