It’s been long believed that spaghetti originated in China. Traders along the Silk Road brought the recipe of a basic wheat noodle back from China and introduced it to the Romans. This spawned a beautiful new child of Italian cuisine which, unfortunately, has forgotten where its mother went! It is quite rare to find Italian-Chinese fusion — just the thought sounds perplexing to most people. I would assume tortellini filled with egg drop soup doesn’t sound exactly appetizing to most people. Before any quick judgements hear me out… well not on that exact dish! But a similar fusion concept that you can be the judge of yourself.
I want to have another conversation with you about frozen food. You are lazy. Admit it. You go to Trader Joe’s, get the frozen pizza, plop it in the oven and get back to Love Island. You don’t even think twice about how much better that pizza could be if you made some minor adjustments! How about some hot honey with a drizzle of olive oil or some ricotta over top? The possibilities are endless, but you seem to be complacent with the blank canvas. Now I can’t blame you, when you see Kazimir Malevich’s ‘Black Square,’ I see unfinished work (look it up if you don’t understand).
Now that that is out of the way, let’s move on to the meat and potatoes. I want to rekindle that relationship between mother and child, Italian and Chinese, with frozen food.
We will be amplifying Trader Joe’s frozen gyoza (I know Gyoza is the Japanese word but Jiaozi, the Chinese version, is the same and original thing) into an elevated baked ravioli.
- 1 tbsp kosher salt
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter
- ¾ can of San Marzano tomatoes, do not use San Merican (pictured below):
- ⅛ white onion
- 1 tsp white pepper
- 6 or 7 Trader Joes’ frozen Pork Gyoza (veggie works too for a vegetarian version of this dish)
- Block of Mozzarella cheese, sliced at your own discretion
- Bay leaf
- Olive oil (at your own discretion)
Step #1: Defrost your Frozen Pork Gyoza, this typically takes about an hour sitting out but you can speed up the process with some hot water and a bowl.
Step #2: While the Gyoza defrost you will start your tomato sauce. For this, you will use Marcella Hazan’s recipe, the best recipe. If you’re too lazy to click the link I will explain it here:
- Heat up a sauce pan and pour about 3⁄4 of a can of San Marzano tomatoes into the pan. Add 1/8th white onion, 1 tbsp salt and 1 tbsp unsalted butter, for the sake of being more Chinese in this recipe we will use a teaspoon of white pepper instead of the more commonly European black pepper medley.
- Let this simmer on low heat for an hour, stirring occasionally to prevent the tomato sauce from sticking to the bottom of your pan. Taste as you go.
Step #3: Now that your Gyoza’s have defrosted, pat them down with a paper towel to remove the moisture from the surface, this will help prevent them from sticking to the pan. Set your oven to broil mode.
Step #4: Heat your pan up then add your olive oil, let your oil get hot, and then start adding the Gyoza one by one or all at the same time, I don’t really care, maximize your swag whilst cooking.
Step #5: Let the gyoza get nice and crispy on the outside, turning occasionally. Turn the heat off on your tomato sauce and let it rest for a little.
Step #6: Once the Gyozas are crispy, take the pan off the heat and let it rest for a moment and then add the tomato sauce into the pan. Add thyme, basil and a bay leaf and mix to incorporate evenly. This may be hard in a pan but try your hardest… I believe in you. And If you make a mess you can always clean it up.
Step #7: Before your magnum opus enters the oven add slices of mozzarella cheese* to the top to make a beautiful quilt of cheese. Add a nice drizzle of olive oil to the top and you’re ready for takeoff.
* You can add as much or as little or no cheese if you want or even change the variety of cheese, this is all advice, not instructions. I’m not your lawyer.
Step #8: Now typically recipes give you a timeline down to the exact minute when something is supposed to happen. Basically, I don’t really pay attention to time so this is hard for me. Place the pan in the oven and turn the oven light on to keep a close eye on how the cheese is crusting up. This shouldn’t take more than 4 minutes but I like to sit and watch the oven as though it were a television during this process.
Step #9: Remove the pan from the oven when you are satisfied with the color. How you serve is your prerogative. I usually use a spatula.