This year, the autumnal equinox takes place the day before Sukkot, the Feast of Booths in Judaism. We’re commanded to eat outside in the sukkah for eight days; soaking up the last bit of the golden summer sunshine while dining alfresco. It’s a commandment I can easily get behind!
There aren’t many traditional foods eaten over Sukkot, though chicken soup, kugel and challah are mainstays on my Ashkenazi Jewish husband’s family’s holiday table. Other than that, Sukkot menus are designed around harvest-related produce and foods that are practical to eat outside in the fall.
To start, I’m making a comforting bowl of chicken kreplach (dumpling) soup. I’ve read that kreplach is a symbolic new year food in some Jewish communities, because the filling is sealed in the noodle like judgement is sealed in the Book of Life on Yom Kippur. But my first thought as a Japanese American Jew was: “It sounds like gyoza soup!”
The word gyoza comes from the Chinese word jiaozi, a kind of stuffed dumpling. In my gyoza kreplach soup, the inside of the dumpling is Japanese in flavor though I’ve swapped the ground pork for ground chicken. The soup on the other hand, is a standard European-style chicken broth.
Kreplach soup has been known to be very time-consuming. My addition of store-bought gyoza wrappers cuts the time more than in half, so you can spend more time outside with your family and friends.
Quick Gyoza Kreplach (Dumpling Soup) for Sukkot
Serves: 8 (2 gyoza/person)
Total Prep Time: 30 minutes (not including broth, if you like to make your own)
Total Cook Time: 10 minutes (not including broth)
- 1 lb ground chicken thigh meat (highly recommend thigh over breast meat for this)
- 1 Tbsp. sake
- 2 finely chopped green onions, ends removed
- 1 Tbsp. peeled and grated ginger
- 1 finely minced garlic clove
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
- 1 tsp. sea salt
- 3-1/2” diameter round gyoza wrappers
- Small bowl of water for sealing the gyoza
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into Japanese rangiri (chopping technique) pieces
- Dill for garnish
- 6 cups chicken broth
- Mix first seven ingredients together in a medium-sized mixing bowl.
- Bring chicken broth to a boil over medium heat, (while you begin assembling the gyoza) then lower it to a low simmer.
- Place about 1 ounce of the meat filling in the center of a gyoza wrapper. Seal the outside edges with water. Completely seal into a triangle shape (see below image). Make sure there are no holes in the seal so the filling doesn’t seep out.
- Place carrots in broth, simmer for five minutes.
- Place each gyoza carefully in the broth, making sure they don’t stick to the bottom of the pot. Turn up the heat to medium-low and allow the dumplings to cook for five minutes, or until the filling feels firm.
- Serve each guest equal amounts of carrots and two gyoza each.
- Garnish with dill and serve immediately.** Be careful not to let the gyoza sit in the soup too long. The wrappers are quite delicate and can start to break down if they are left too long in the broth.