Stuffed with sweet kabocha squash and miso-glazed eggplant, these Oyaki Japanese dumplings are a popular snack in Nagano Prefecture in central Japan.
As the weather chills and you spend more time in the comfort of your home, I thought it would be nice to share a fun Japanese dumpling recipe that will keep you busy in the kitchen. You – and maybe your kids too – get to play with flour, making the dough from scratch, and stuffing the dumplings with your favorite fillings!
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour (2 ½ cups = 300 g)
1 scant cup boiling water (1 scant cup = 200 ml)
1 tsp neutral flavor oil (vegetable, canola, etc)
¼ tsp kosher salt
2 Japanese/Chinese eggplant
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp miso
1 Tbsp granulated sugar (you can reduce if you like; See Notes)
2 Shiso leaves (Ooba) (optional)
¼ kabocha squash/pumpkin (¼ = 300-350 g with seeds)
Using the fine mesh strainer, sift the flour into a large bowl. Combine hot water, oil, and kosher salt.
Mix the dry ingredients and wet ingredients with chopsticks until you can pick up the dough with hands.
Use the dough to pick up crumbs in the bowl.
Knead on a lightly floured surface for about 3 minutes, until a smooth dough forms. In Japan, we say “knead until elastic like your earlobe”. Do you say that in your country or is it Japanese think
Form the dough into a ball, put it back in the bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let it rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes or longer. Letting the dough rest increases its elasticity making easier to work with later, so please don't skip.
To Make Eggplant Filling
While the dough rests, make the fillings. Remove the eggplant stem and cut it half vertically. Then slice into half circles. Soak in water for 5-10 minutes (Meanwhile, you can cut Kabocha). Drain well and set aside.
Heat sesame oil in a large frying pan and sauté eggplant until it is coated with oil. Cover the lid and cook on low heat for 5 minutes.
When tender, add sugar and combine well.
Add miso and julienned shiso leaves, and mix well together. Transfer to a dish to let cool.
To Make Kabocha Filling
Cut the kabocha into smaller wedges and remove the skin (See How To Cut a Kabocha Squash).
Cut each wedge into thin slices and then cut into thin strips.
Heat the oil in the frying pan and sauté the kabocha. When it’s coated with oil, add water and cook covered for 5 minutes on low heat.
Add sugar and combine well.
Add soy sauce and pinch of salt. Mix well together.
Transfer to the dish to let cool.
To Shape into Oyaki
Roll out the rested dough into a rectangular or circle shape and divide it into 12 pieces.
Make each dough into a ball then press down with your hand.
Stretch the dough to 10 cm (4 inches) in diameter. The important trick is to keep the center thicker than edges. Using your fingers, stretch the outer edges by rotating the dough. This way, when you pinch the dough to seal, the dough won’t be too thick/too much.
Place about 1 Tbsp of the filling in the center of each piece of dough. Close the oyaki by bringing the dough up over the filling, pinching at the top to seal.
I use the same pleating technique as my Nikuman recipe (see the video how I close the dough and pinch).
After pinching the dough, put the pinched-side down on a lightly floured surface and twist a few times. Then press the top of the oyaki little bit into a slightly flat ball.
To Cook Oyaki
Set a steamer ready, by placing a steamer basket on top of wok/pot filled with enough boiling water. If you don’t have a steamer, after cooking the oyaki in a frying pan, add ¼ cup water to the pan. Cover with a lid and steam it until the water evaporates.
Heat the oil in a frying pan (12 inch) and cook oyaki, pinched-side down.
Pan fry for 3-4 minutes each side, or until golden brown.
Transfer the oyaki to a steamer basket and cover to cook on high heat for 15-20 minutes (depending on the size of the oyaki and filling – small one should take about 10 minutes). Make sure the lid is covered with the kitchen towel so condensation on the lid doesn’t fall onto the oyaki.
When they are done steaming, transfer to a wire rack (I use a bamboo strainer) where the heat can escape from the bottom.
Enjoy them immediately. As soon as they become warm, not hot, cover the leftovers with plastic wrap (I wrap individually). Don’t wait until completely cooled down. You can freeze to store for up to a month, and re-steam to enjoy later.