Thursday, April 23, 2009

Japanese Maultaschen (Maulza)

There are many things Japan and Germany have in common. Both are leaders in the automotive industry, both are economic powerhouses of the 20th century that are floundering in the new millenium; the fastest train in the world was built by Germans and is run in Japan. And let's not mention the war. Walking through Heidelberg, one will inevitably encounter a group of Japanese tourists, following their guide who is holding an umbrella high above her head (usually it's a female) . There are signs in the shops, in Japanese, informing shoppers that cuckoo-clocks are for sale inside, and there is a tax rebate available (at least I think this is what the signs say, it's what the English translations would have me believe).

Nonetheless, there is very little Japanese food to be found here, apart from the odd sushi bar. This fact surprises me, not only because of the apparent simmilarities, but also because of the 1 shared dish. Call them gyoza, call them maultaschen, they are the same. They are both not ravioli.

I wanted to make maultaschen last night, but I was missing a few key ingredients, such as bacon. What I did have was maultaschen dough (it's pretty much an average pasta dough), ground pork, ginger, garlic, spinach, soy sauce, green onions, and rice wine vinegar. I'm making maultaschen-gyoza tonight. I'm making Maulza.

200 g ground pork
1 Tbsp minced ginger
1 tsp minced garlic
2 green onions, chopped (include the greens!)
1 Tbsp dark, sodium-reduced soy sauce
1 tsp rice wine vinegar
1/2 tsp sesame oil
150 g spinach, blanched
1 package Maultaschen dough (or 32 wonton wrappers)

Mix all ingredients except dough in bowl. On rolled out dough, drop 16 equal-ish amounts of filling. Use extra dough or wrappers as lids on the pockets. Pinch pockets tight.
Steam pockets for 3 minutes. Pan fry pockets. Serve with asian-style dipping sauce.

To the best of my knowledge, gyoza are made with shrimp and were imported by the Chinese, who call them jiao-zi (little pockets). The jiao-zi I have made have been out of pork and usually involve some sort of chili oil and chopped cabbage. Maultaschen, on the other hand, are mild (most German food is) and is often either in a soup or pan fried, served with a salad on the side. The word Maultaschen itself means "animal mouth" and, the story says that it was popular during lent as monks could hide their meat in the pocket of dough.

I don't really care what anyone calls them, but I'm yet to have ravioli like this!

Gyoza on Foodista


Tangled Noodle said...

It so interesting to learn about the connections and similarities between such distant countries and cultures! I have never heard, much less tasted, maultaschen but I do love gyoza. Your 'maulza' looks amazing, especially after you pan fry them (I love that chewy then slightly crunchy texture!) - can't wait to try these myself.

Cathy said...

My friend just came back from a 10 day trip to Japan - she stayed off the beaten track and was absolutely in love with the ccountry. I've been to both Japan and Germany and had never thought about the similarities....but it makes a lot of sense. Great looking recipe - I could eat at japanese restaurants every night of the week...but uh Calgary has few "good" sushi restaurants...and the good ones cost a small fortune.

Alisa@Foodista said...

What an interesting piece of info,I love gyoza although I havent really tried making them myself. Hope you wont mind but I'd love to guide Foodista readers to your site, just add this little widget here to this post and it's all set to go, Thanks!

taste traveller said...

I think I spent a lot of time watching my brother & his friends play Axis & Allies when I was a kid - the Japan/Germany thing seemed really obvious to me when I didn't know anything about either country.

Cathy - the Japanese food here leaves room for improvement, that's to say the least. Most times, Sushi bars are run by Chinese guys (I only know because I can understand them - and this scares me). I bet you really miss the West Coast!

Alisa: thanks for the add! As long as you have the dough already made, ravioli is surprisingly easy to make. Proper Gyoza seems to need a food processor, but again, not beyond a Saturday meal with friends (I've made them with friends - one of the meals that makes cooking with company fun!)

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