Gingerbread, Frosty Air, and Gyoza

Katy Chang, Staff Writer

Whether it’s the smell of gingerbread, winter’s frosty air nipping at your skin, or Starbucks holiday drinks, there are many things that can remind someone of the holidays. For me, it has never been any of the above, although all are welcome. For me, what indicates the holidays rolling into season are dumplings. To be specific, Japanese pork gyoza. 

When I was younger, my father would always cook gyoza, which are Japanese dumplings. He made them in bulk, freezing them and then cooking them whenever we finished eating one batch. They were easy and convenient to cook after preparing them, so they were a good holiday food, especially if we had people over. 

When I got a little older, I remember asking my father how to make dumplings. He was excited I took an interest in making traditional Japanese food, so he wasted no time bringing me to Mitsuwa, the Japanese marketplace. We picked out dumpling wrappers, pork, nira, and headed home. We started the next day.

It was much harder than I thought. We spent an hour mixing all the ingredients with the pork, chopping nira and shiitake mushrooms, but the true struggle was folding the pork into the dumpling wrappers. It was hours of taking a tablespoon of meat and neatly and fancily folding it tight into the wrapper. My father was much more skilled. He seemed to complete five before I completed one. 

Despite how time consuming it was, it was my favorite part of the holidays that year and it became a tradition for me and my father. He loved to teach me about my culture and I loved to learn, especially since my father usually works and travels a lot so it was a nice time for us to spend time together. My brother and mother would also occasionally join in and it became a family tradition. Now, every year, I see gyoza as an indication of the holidays and some of my warmest memories.