Gyoza suppliers to the Tokyo Olympics create a cheat meal that’s no longer a cheat meal.

If there’s one thing our food-obsessed reporters Go Hatori and Takashi Harada never tire of eating, it’s gyoza. In fact, if it was an Olympic sport, they’d definitely be out there winning gold for their abilities on the world stage, so when they heard that Ajinomoto, gyoza suppliers to the Tokyo Olympics, had released a new gyoza especially for athletes, our reporters immediately fired up their pan and got out their plates and chopsticks.

▼ The new product was released on 25 August and comes in two varieties: “Energy Gyoza” (left) and “Conditioning Gyoza” (right).

According to Ajinomoto, Japanese figure skater Yuzuru Hanyu was the key to developing dumplings for athletes, after he publicly declared his love of gyoza by saying, “Even if you don’t have an appetite, you can eat gyoza” and “Gyoza increases your energy“.

Our reporters may be good at eating gyoza, but they’re not so good at sketching Hanyu, who’s been showered with Winnie the Pooh plushies from fans ever since they noticed him using a Pooh-shaped tissue box at every event.

Hanyu’s love for gyoza inspired Ajinomoto to develop new dumplings aimed at athletes, providing them with the fuel and nutrition they need for daily sporting activities.

▼ The Energy Gyoza delivers energy with a thick skin and nutritious amino acids.

▼ The Conditioning Gyoza pays attention to the recovery needs of athletes, with plenty of garlic and cabbage, vitamins A, C, E and protein, and a gentle flavour.

Ajinomoto sent our non-athletic reporters one of each pack to try, so Go placed the dumplings in a frying pan and cooked them over medium heat for about six minutes (five minutes for the conditioning gyoza). .

They were quick and easy to make, and they looked crispy and delicious, with the Conditioning gyoza turning out lightly grilled and the Energy gyoza slightly darker, due to the longer cooking time.

Our reporters decided to start with the Energy gyoza, hoping it would add a spring to their step and maybe even make their biceps suddenly bulge like Popeye’s after a bite of spinach.

Because muscles don’t usually grow on good-tasting food, Takashi braced himself for an inferior-tasting gyoza, fearing it might taste like a health supplement.

However, to his great relief, these were actually tasty! They were light yet flavourful, with a filling that didn’t skimp on taste, as each morsel contained onion, cabbage, and oyster sauce.

▼ For athletes on restricted diets, the energy gyoza is like a cheat meal that’s no longer a cheat meal due to its non-greasy filling.

Next up to the tasting podium we have the Conditioning Gyoza, which was noticeably greener than the Energy Gyoza.

▼ That green hue comes from the abundance of vegetables in the filling.

These gyoza contain a plethora of healthy ingredients like carrot, onion, gingergarlic chives, cabbage, egg whites, pumpkin paste and spinach powder. If anything was to turn Takashi or Go into a muscle-bulging Popeye it would be this gyoza variety, which had more protein and less carbs than the Energy version.

Go was surprised by this one, as it had a hot kick to it, likely from the ginger, and despite about 67 percent of the contents being vegetables, it was still surprisingly tasty, thanks to the fact that it also contained chicken seasoning.

However, compared to normal dumplings, Go and Takashi both agree that these athletic versions aren’t quite on par in terms of deliciousness. That’s to be expected, though, as they’re less fatty and oily than regular gyoza, and they only use meat seasonings rather than real meat in the fillings.

In the hands of a non-professional, these gyoza could have been a dismal fail, but thanks to Ajinomoto’s experience with frozen gyoza, they’ve been able to create a healthy version that’s still a tasty and rewarding meal for athletes.

You don’t have to be an athlete to enjoy these dumplings, though, as both versions can be purchased online, with the Energy Gyoza retailing for 1,200 yen (US$10.93) and the Conditioning Gyoza retailing for 1,500 yen. For those looking for a more decadent type of dumpling, Go and Takashi highly recommend trying the croissant gyoza, which they waited a whole year for.

Photos © SoraNews24
● Want to hear about SoraNews24’s latest articles as soon as they’re published? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!
[ Read in Japanese ]