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Photo: Evan Sung, Stylist: Kaitlyn DuRoss
Crisp up your gyoza game.

This recipe is part of Crispianity: a column devoted to all foods crispy and crunchy, two of the most underappreciated attributes of a great dish. Author Adeena Sussman is a food writer and recipe developer, pairing here with her friend, photographer Evan Sung. Sussman’s most recent cookbook, co-authored with Lee Brian Schrager, is Fried and True: More Than 50 Recipes for America’s Best Fried Chicken and Sides.

Pot stickers, gyoza, pan-fried dumplings. Call them what you will, but once you discover how simple they are to make at home, you may join me among the ranks of the addicted. My favorites come from hole-in-the-wall New York ramen joint Minca, where the shrimp version arrives with the tails sticking out of the crisped-up shells, ready to be picked up and demolished in just one or two bites. The secret lies in the method, which starts with a surprisingly small amount of oil and finishes with a cloud of water vapor: steam-frying that results in a gorgeously burnished, deeply browned underside that regularly haunts my dreams.

I experimented with regular shrimp, but found that even with medium (36-40 count) shrimp, their curved bodies couldn’t be accommodated by a standard 4-inch gyoza wrapper. Then I realized that Minca used tiger prawn tails, whose up-and down shape helps the wrappers rest snugly around them. Five minutes in the skillet and you’re ready to embellish flavor and eat. You might be tempted to go all complicated with a dipping sauce, but I’m happy shaking soy sauce and hot sesame oil to my liking – and by my liking I mean a lot.

The great thing about these is you can prepare the gyoza, freeze them in a single layer on baking sheets, transfer them to Ziploc bags, and ferry them straight from the freezer to the skillet any time the urge for something crispy strikes. Which, in my case, is pretty much all the time.