IMBB7: Tails of the Reconstruction – Ebi Gyouza

Prawn dumplings for IMBB7

Dumplings have been mentioned in the context of love, and I can’t argue with that. Dump, for being given permission to be friends; and ling for that rat Nazi bastard Quisling . The Japanese understand this and have named them gyouza. The gutteral “Gyou” for building power from the diaphragm and “za” to punch through the ribcage to extract the still warm heart.

This is no such sadness but a reconstruction of ebi gyouza which I bumped into in a small Ramen shop in Bandoubashi in Yokohama near 10 years ago and never saw again. I travelled Japan, thinking I’d seen them but all had the prawn as a mashed up non-entity rather than as a whole tail. We meet again and discuss how our lives have changed since we last met as the clock ticks towards our inevitable parting.

I referred to jibun de tsukuru puro no ra-men (Make Professional Ramen by Yourself) for the base recipe. The book’s a great one and I often flick through it, dreaming of the day I finally make puro no tonkotsu ra-men.


  • 30 small raw prawns: peeled with the “sand tube” (ha!) removed, but the tail left. Slashed the meat across the tail to stop it curling when cooked.
  • 300gm minced pork:
  • quarter chinese cabbage: blanched for 30 seconds then chopped
  • bunch of chives: should be nira – garlic chives but I balanced with more garlic
  • 4 garlic cloves: minced
  • wonton wrappers; or the thicker gyouza wrappers if you can find them
  • plus – 1tbs of potato starch; tsp soy sauce; tsp of sesame oil; one eggs; tsp oil; salt and pepper.


Everything except for the prawns and the wrappers goes into a bowl and mixed together. You may need to adjust the amount of cornstarch and eggs to get the pastiness right. You may also like to vary the flavourings. A quick whiff of the mixture will tell you if you’re on the right track.

Now just place a prawn in the wonton in your hand with the tail slightly protruding. Then add about a teaspoon of the mix and seal the wonton by making small folds. Repeat until you run out of prawns. You may also like to keep a towel over the wontons and the gyouza to keep them from drying out.

And off my school of gyouza went to a friend’s house for dinner.


This is the clever bit. A combination of frying and steaming. Ramen shops have specialised cookers but all is needed is a frypan and a lid.

First you need to fry the gyouza in a little oil for about 30 seconds to get the bases just golden.

Then add a ladleful of boiling water to the pan and then cover. The right balance is for all the water to vanish in 5 minutes which will leave the gyouza perfectly cooked (remember it’s got pork in it).


I’m a bit fond of the dish I bought in Japan you see on the top which has the dipping bowl built in. The dipping sauce is half soy sauce, half rice wine vinegar and a splash of chili oil.

Time consuming rather than difficult, the recipe was a success with the prawn providing that extra element of texture to the softness of the skin and filling and the crunch of the base. No ramen but they make for tremendous lager accompaniments. The night continued with steak and, for lovers of understated reds, the 2001 Wave Crest Cabernet Sauvignon from South Australia. We’ve had Fish meets Dish, Lamb meets Dam, and now East meest Beast.

Thanks again to the IMBB host.

Sidenote: small Japanese children who don’t burst into tears can be amused by folding your ear forwards and saying “gyouza“.

Update: A vast global melancholy of dumplings now up at life in flow – many thanks to all involved.

Apropos: Language Log – gotta love it.

Foodovers: leftover fillling mixed with some kim chee, fried as a patty and eaten wrapped in lettuce with some chili sauce. Not bad at all.

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  1. Santos’s avatar

    i prefer “tail of tears” myself….

    [Sidenote: small Japanese children who don’t burst into tears can be amused by folding your ear forwards and saying “gyouza”.]

    such detailed photos–but where’s the one of children bursting into tears?

  2. Anthony’s avatar

    santos! Good to hear from you, hope all’s OK.

    “tale of tears” hmmmm was saving that for “a tale of veers” about the day I rented an MX5 and drove around Izu.

    No piccies of crying kids. Friends kids are pretty used to me but my fierce face and unusual intonation terrorised small Japanese children. You can also form a circle with your thumb and ring finger on your cheek for takoyaki to the repertoire.

  3. pixelkitty’s avatar

    I love gyouza. (But cannot for the life of me pronounce it!)

    So much so that I recently learned how to make them.

    Never done them with a whole prawn though, and not being a huge prawn fan explains why. Maybe next batch?

    I like your recipe for dipping sauce, very similar to mine, but I add a few drops of lime juice. Not very traditional, I know.

    Any idea what those deliciously crispy little purses/moneybags are called? Usually served with a chilli dipping sauce on the side?

  4. Anthony’s avatar


    It’s pronounced
    first syllable; gyoh (hard “g”)
    second syllable; za (as in c”a”r)
    Intonation not dissimilar to Tohga! Tohga!…

    They’re a relaxing think to make and lend themselves to a few experiments.

    Your dipping sauce might upset gyouza traditionalists but the sauce itself is very similar to ponzu dipping sauce.

    I know what you mean, I’ve made a similar vegetarian one with rice but take a look over at chez pim – having a bit of a bludge with the guest chef tho’ ; )

  5. Santos’s avatar

    hiya–tough stormy sunday, but monday cleanup almost tougher. currently indulging in “tale of beers” which i believe you’re well acquainted with.

    that takoyaki thing is bordering on gang signals. scary.

    [Dump, for being given permission to be friends]

    in the words of lindsey buckingham: you can gyouza own waaay….

  6. Owen’s avatar

    Love the tails sticking out!

    And speaking of love, you sound a little bitter. Hope that changes soon.

    Now that the kids eat prawns I don’t dare make this. They hoover potstickers down as it is and adding prawn to the mix guarantees that I will personally never actually get to sit down quietly and eat one.

  7. Anthony’s avatar

    Santos, I think you’ve earnt a beer or two enjoy them. The Japanese have no rude hand signals that I know of which made riding hard. Gangs signal by wearing bright Versace rip-off shirts, suede purple loafers, and punch perms.

    Owen, sympathise not, all’s AOK in the orbit of venus, must just be thise years drinking vodka tonics that did it.
    Kids! These are *Daddy’s* prawns and those are *your* fish fingers not working?

  8. Owen’s avatar

    Alas – my kids would say “Dada – you have the fish fingers and we’ll have the prawns”

    I know that it’s a good thing they like real food, but it’s also a bad thing…for example, tonight Grace the just-turned-ten year old said she’d try the mussels (moules mariniere) and then decided she liked them and proceeded to lift about half Jan’s serving off her plate (she knows not to try that with me – Mama is a softer touch)

    We now serve tasty things and say, “it’s OK, you won’t like it” and hope they believe us.

  9. Reid’s avatar

    Hi Anthony,

    The gyoza looks fantastic. I’ve never seen it prepared this way, but now I know. Thanks for teaching us all something! Good job!

  10. Jeanne’s avatar

    Hmmm, tails of the unexpected (well, it was for the prawns at any rate…). They look just fab and I’m dead keen to try them – I like the frying/steaming combo. And what a fetching Le Crueset pan…

    Btw, did you hear SA won Tri Nations? ;-) (aren’t you sorry you started…)

  11. Anthony’s avatar

    Owen – your kids have good taste, a credit to you and Jan but if they get too fussy, send them off to boarding school.

    Reid – It was only the second time I’ve seen them this way myself. You’re very welcome though, your postings on Japanese restaurants keeps me on the nostalgic side. Keep it up and I’ll be making rice burgers myself.

    Jeanne – The frying steaming combo is pretty nifty and only takes a bit of experimenting to get it right. The frypan was the frypan everybody at Toni’s workplace wondered what the I’d done to deserve a frypan for Christmas. I take it all back on the rugby – good win, ’til next time.

  12. husky9’s avatar

    Hi Anthony,Ebi Ebi Ebi…looks so yummie…i havent tried it with the rice dumpling skin..usually i have mine in egg wanton skin and deep fried …

  13. Anthony’s avatar

    Hi Husky
    They weren’t that ‘ebi. Actually no they are ebi but the wrappers are just wonton wrappers. I heard that the gyouza wrappers are the same stuff but thicker which would be better because a couple tore in the pan.

  14. Andy’s avatar

    Loved the link to Quisling, wasn’t aware of the origin of the term. Dumplings look delicious. I have a recipe for pan fried dumplings, but without the prawns which seem a nice addition. In this recipe the dumplings are simmered first, then pan fried on one side. I am thinking of trying some japanese dishes, can you recommend a good recipe book for starters.

  15. Anthony’s avatar

    To be honest I didn’t find out about the origin myself until not long ago-think I first saw it in the context of Chalabi.
    Good question on the cookbook, I’ll do a post on it in the next few days.
    Now about those pan fried dumplings…

  16. Anonymous’s avatar

    Hi Anthony,
    do you have a good supplier for your gyouza skins?
    I tried making steamed gyouza with wonton skins but they died an untimely death and can definitely see
    your point about gyouza skins v wonton skins. Thanks for the recipe,liz.

  17. Anthony’s avatar

    Liz – blog meetup Liz? Hi. I’ve an explanation and an apology regarding a post I made resulting in a wee bit of confusion (no the rest of you confused out there don’ get one). Pop me an e-mail.

    All I can say is “all good Asian food supermarkets” for now but I’ll get on the job. Two good places for Japanese food are the shop on Rokeby near the Lava Lounge in Subi and the Asian supermarket on the corner of Fitzgerald and Railway in Northbridge. Double up on wonton skins?

  18. Anonymous’s avatar

    Hmm, I think I will amend next week’s shopping list.

    (are there any OHS issues with adding water to hot oil that we should be aware of?)


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