Crown Tournament 10/19/2019 - Vegetarian Gyoza 餃子 & Sarada yō kyabetsu (Japanese Slaw) 福神漬

Vegetarian Gyoza 餃子 & Sarada yō kyabetsu (Japanese Slaw) 福神漬
Picture Courtesy of Avelyn Grene (Kristen Lynn)
I have a confession to make--Japanese dumplings are not period.  While it is true that Japan and China had many years of conflict and that Jiaozi (the Chinese dumplings) were a commonly eaten food for almost two thousand years in China, it wasn't until Japan invaded China in 1937 during the Second Sino-Japanese War that Japanese soldiers were exposed to Chinese Jiaozi,  the parent of Japanese Gyoza and took them home to their families.  

I could not in good conscience allow people to sit at an empty table.  So, I used cook's prerogative to put a small bite of an acidic food (Sarada yō kyabetsu "Japanese Slaw" 福神漬) with a small bite of something savory and spicy to increase the appetite. Additionally, keeping with the theme of symbolism in the feast, the dumpling represents wealth, happiness and celebration. Both the cabbage and mushrooms used in the filling are equally symbolic: cabbage to bring luck and wealth for the next hundred years and mushrooms to bring good fortune to those who ate the dumplings.

Napa cabbage has an interesting history that is interwoven between China and Japan as well. The word napa (菜っ葉) is a reference to the leaves of any vegetable that can be eaten as food.  In China, where the cabbage was first cultivated in the 15th century, it is referred to as "White Vegetable" (白菜). From China it spread through Korea and into Japan.  The cabbage slaw that was served at feast would theoretically fall into the category of Namasu no Bu (鱠之部), fresh food with vinegar.  Originally Namasu referred to any food that was sliced thin, dressed with vinegar and served raw, and may be the precursor to sashimi or sunomono.

Namasu also travelled to Japan from China during the Nara period (710-794).  The Japanese word for vinegar is "su", and the word for thinly sliced or uncooked is "nama".  While I was unable to locate references to these two specific dishes in period, I felt there was enough evidence for their probability in period that it would not be a red flag to present them.

Sarada yō kyabetsu (Japanese Slaw) 福神漬

1/2 head of napa cabbage shredded
1 bag shredded coleslaw mix


 2 tsp. sugar
4 tsp. light soy sauce
2 tsp. vegetable or canola oil
5 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
2 green onions finely sliced

Mix together ingredients for dressing, and then pour over the cabbage.  This slaw can be refrigerated up to 2 days before serving.

Vegetarian Gyoza 餃子

1 pound finely minced napa cabbage
1 carrot finely grated
7 ounces finely minced mushrooms
1 pound of vegetarian crumbles
1 tbsp. salt
1 tbsp. garlic
1 tsp. fresh ginger
2 green onions or 1/2 leek finely chopped
2 tsp. sugar
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1 1/2 tsp. sesame oil
1 package of dumpling wrappers
Vegetable oil for cooking

Sprinkle salt over cabbage and allow to sit for 10 to 15 minutes, or until it wilts and releases water.  Squeeze the cabbage to drain the liquid.  In a medium skillet, heat oil and sesame oil. Add mushrooms, carrots, leeks (or onions), garlic and ginger, and cook stirring occasionally until mushrooms are slightly browned. Add cabbage, sesame oil and vegetarian crumbles, and cook another four to five minutes. Set aside to cool.

To make dumplings you will need to assemble the cooled dumpling filling, a bowl of water, and your wrappers.  Add up to 2 tsp. filling to a wrapper that has been wet with water on half of it.  Fold into a half moon shape and pleat shut.  Dumplings can be frozen, then fried or steamed depending upon your preference.