Japanese Christmas Cake, a little Early

Japanese Christmas Cake, Anime Strawberry Cake, Strawberry Cream Cake, whatever you call it, it is amazing.  Simple and delicious, sweet and tart, I can go on and on about this recipe.  I like many others searched for this cake because I always see it enjoyed in anime’s yet never knew the name.  All I knew was, while watching anime’s the characters enjoy this lovely layered cake with strawberries and cream.  It looks like perfection, so elegant looking yet simple and delicious.  I found the name of the cake, largely in part to anime fansites, so I went on a hunt.  I wanted to keep it on the Japanese side, so I went with the japanese style of this cake from the sponge, to the trick to thickening the whipping cream, by using agar agar.

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Gyoza with Dipping Sauce

There is a place in the skyway in downtown Minneapolis called Zen Box. It has the best gyoza I have ever had. This is as close to their recipe as I can get. I have read about 25 recipes and based on taste tests this is the result, which is soft, savory, crunchy and holds up well when piced up which is a cooked-to-perfection test of a good gyoza. I have had good and bad potstickers – bad being Panda Express – and good which are in my opinion, these. It is one of those items that wherever you go you tend to order it. The results can vary widely from place to place and well have our favorites. If you like a slightly more crunch testure, keep in a 200°F oven until ready to serve. It adds an extra crunch to them that really is pleasant.

Gyoza is basically the Japanese name for potstickers or dumplings. The sauce for this I took the inspiration from another local restaurant (Fuji-Ya). They have this spicy dipping sauce that is just amazing! The following recipe makes 24 and they freeze exceptionally well. I hope you try them.

Gyoza Dipping Sauce

  • 3 tbsp Mirin
  • 2 tbsp Soy Sauce
  • 3 drops Chili Oil
  • 2 drops Sesame Oil

Combine and mix. Set aside to let flavors blend until ready to serve.

Gyoza

  • 2/3 c Napa Cabbage, minced
  • 1/4 lb Ground Pork
  • 1 tsp Ginger, fresh grated
  • 1 tsp Soy Sauce
  • 1/8 tsp Sesame Oil
  • 1/8 tsp White Pepper
  • 1/3 c Scallions, minced
  • 1 tbsp Egg White
  • 2 tbsp Water
  • 2 tsp Flour
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 2 drops Sesame Oil
  • 20-25 Gyoza wrappers
  • 1/2 c water

Shred and mince the cabbage, wash and drain and place on paper towels to dry.

In a bowl combine pork, ginger, soy, sesame oil, and pepper. By hand mix throughly. Add in egg white and continue to mix by hand. Add in the onion and cabbage keep mixing until one cohesive mass.

In a small bowl combine the 2 tbsp of water with 2 tsp of flour. This you will use to we the rims of the wrappers to seal. So place near your work space.

Get an empty plate or tray to place your prepared gyoza. Line it wax paper.

Now the tricky work.

Step 1: Place a gyoza wrapper in your hand and add 1 teaspoon of the pork mix in the center.

Step 2: Dip your finger in the flour water and run it around the rim of the wrapper. Make sure you are going over the very edge so you get a good seal. Fold the wrapper in half pushing all the air out from around the pork mince as you line up all the edges.

Step 3: Now the folding seal edge over edge in a Z shape starting in the middle.

Step 4: Then repeat working out from the middle one side to the edge and then the other. It should take no more then 2-3 crimps per side. Being sure to pinch the seal closed between your fingers.

Step 5: Place the dumpling fat side down on the plate. (If freezing, Line a flat sheet with wax paper, and place them in the freezer. When completely frozen transfer to a freezer bag. Keeps well up to 2-4 weeks.)

Repeat steps 1-5 until all the dumplings are made. After step 5 this is the point that if you want to you can freeze the dumplings.

Place a 10″ non stick skillet over medium heat. When it is hot place 1 tbsp olive oil and 2 drops sesame oil in pan.

Arrange 10-12 dumplings in the pan when it is browned to your personal preference.

Get the lid for the pan ready. Now add 1/2 cup of water and immediately place the lid. You will be able to hear when all the water has simmered out. Should be 5-8 minutes.

Test the seams for doneness. They should be A slight transparent oily color. If needed add two more tbsp of water. If it is ready remove from pan add 1 tsp of water and place on lid quickly and remove from heat. Shake pan to loosen dumplings.

Serve garnished with scallions and dipping sauce. Enjoy!