Toward the end of my work day I was thinking about dumplings. I can easily buy a package of 12 dumplings (gyoza) at the store for under 200 yen. But I like do it yourself type stuff so I did some sleuthing on the internet for a recipe to make the wrappings and the filling. I came across what looked to be some pretty top notch cooking so I jotted down the particulars and left the office thinking of how great things were going to be.
I can tell you that my optimism was going to be met much like a orca meets a sea lion. Volatile and unmerciful.
I picked some ingredients up from the store which included some ground meat, dark sesame oil, and green onions. The other things I needed could be found in my kitchen. I started preparing things as soon as I got home which was about 5:30pm or so. I began mixing the flour and water for the dumpling wrappers and everything was going according to plan. I cut up some vegetables while I let the dough sit for a bit and remarked that things should turn out great tonight with a little bit of work.
Rolling out dumpling wrappers is not the easiest thing in the world I found. To make matters worse I doubled the recipe so I would have some left over in case I wanted to refrigerate them for another day. Mistake number one. I would have to make all the dough. It was a painfully slow process of rolling out pieces of dough into nice circles. I never really managed to find a good method so next time I'll just use something to cut circles out instead. Another problem that came up but not until I was almost done was the hydration of the dough. I noticed that it was a bit sticky and wet when I mixed it initially. I thought it would be fine.
I get to about 20 or so pieces of dough left to roll which means I had made about 60 wrappers to this point. I look at my nice stack of dumpling wrappers, reveling in my pride. I look over at the stack and realize that maybe I should pull some apart so the stack isn't so heavy. Now if you can guess what happens next after I briefly alluded to it you get a prize. A verbal congratulations. To my horror the wrappers are sticking TOGETHER. I had been putting flour on them but it soaked in while they were sitting there. I lost almost if not more than 35 wrappers I had made because they had fused together. Many were thin so they wouldn't come apart. I felt like I wanted to die because I had been working several HOURS to this point and hadn't even mixed up the filling yet and my dumpling wrappers were mostly ruined. How depressing it was. I knew I should have made it less wet. I wanted to scream and throw things out the window. All my hard work was completely futile.
I was able to salvage some of the wrappers but many came out terrible because I had to mess with them too much. In the end I did actually make some dumplings several hours after I started. In fact I have about 26 in my freezer now that I didn't eat. They aren't the prettiest but they are my DUMPLINGS. The dumplings I ate were pretty good too. They just didn't have the pleats like gyoza should. I will fix that another time as well as the hydration value of the dough.
It was literally one of the most depressing moments of the past month. But I wouldn't do these things if I didn't want to learn and fail sometimes. Most wouldn't take the time to make gyoza completely from scratch. After I make some really nice looking gyoza I'll show a picture to the teachers at school. But I swear it's not to boost my ego. Why would I want to do something like that?