Tasty summer spring rolls!
July 5, 2010, 9:10 pm
Filed under: Lunch, South Asian

When making spring rolls, there’s a couple of choices for the wrappers. You can use rice paper wrappers which aren’t actually paper at all, but feel like stiff paper until you soak them for a bit (15-20 seconds) in warm water, then they feel like thick flexible cellophane, mostly clear and they look scary delicate but are actually quite stretchy and resilient. These are what I like to use for cold salad-type rolls.

There are also ones that come frozen, and are made from wheat flour. these are used for making fried egg rolls, but can also be used to make coled spring rolls. They fry up well and make the usual American egg rolls you get at the local Chinese place.

Fillings can be what you make of them. I have a friend who makes a tasty filling by sauteing shredded cabbage, carrots and shrimp (or chicken) in a bit of sesame oil, then wrapping and frying in an inch of vegetable oil. They cook quick, in just a couple of minutes per side.

I like the cold salad type filling like this one (copied from ImportFoods

Ingredients

1 package (1.4 oz) bean thread noodles (I use rice vermicelli sometimes, just make sure they’re fine like angel hair spaghetti)
1 teaspoon fresh galangal, small diced and pounded until smooth in a mortar and pestle (or fresh ginger, just use a little less. I grate it fine)
2 tablespoons sliced fresh shallot
3 tablespoons sliced spring onion
1 – 1 1/4 cups cooked (boiled) pork, sliced (I use ground pork)
2 tablespoons khao koor (toast 1/4 cup white rice in a skillet, then grind fine in a mortar&pestle or coffee grinder)
1/2 teaspoon ground Thai chili powder (or cayenne, it’s easier to find)
2.5 tablespoons fish sauce (get some, it’s cheap and if you like South Asian food you need it.)
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup cucumber, cut into 3 inches thin sticks (I don’t always use them)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup thinly sliced long bean (I use mung bean sprouts, but the fresh ones, not the canned ones)
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
3 – 4 torn fresh iceburg leaves
8 – 10 spring roll wrappers (rice wrappers, also called banh trang)

Method

Soak bean thread in water for at least 5 minutes, then use scissors to cut it a few times into 2-3 inch pieces. Boil in water for just 2 minutes, drain, place in bowl, drizzle a small amount of vegetable oil over noodles to prevent them sticking together, and set aside.

To prepare khao koor: get a skillet fairly hot, and add a couple of tablespoons of uncooked jasmine rice. Keep in movement until the rice starts to turn golden brown. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Grind to a fairly coarse powder in a mortar and pestle. The powder should retain some texture.

Place the noodles in a large mixing bowl, add galangal, shallot, cooked pork, khao koor, long bean, spring onion, cilantro, lettuce, cucumber, ground Thai chile powder, fish sauce, sugar, and lime juice. Toss gently until mixed well. Taste it and adjust flavor as you like. You might want a bit less chile powder to tone it down, more lime juice to add sour, or sugar to add sweet flavor. Top with a generous amount of whole fresh mint leaves. Set aside.

Fill a glass pie plate with hot (not quite boiling) water. Working one at a time, dip a spring roll wrapper in hot water until softened (about 10 seconds). Gently blot dry. Place softened wrapper on a clean work surface. Spoon desired amount of Larb Woonsen filling near one end, leaving a 1/2″ border. Fold sides of wrapper over the filling and roll tightly. Cover with a damp paper towel to keep moist. Serve and enjoy!

Now, ImportFoods says they don’t need a dipping sauce but the menfolk like something along with…so here’s how I make a simple one:
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar (the green bottle, not the yellow one)
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce (I like Sriracha, but any sort of red hot sauce will be ok)
Blend it all together, then bite the end off your spring roll and spoon a little bit into it, to soak down into the filling.

Now, my philosophy concerning recipes is that they are suggestions, not rules. The filling is whatever you make of it. I love the cold, fresh raw fillings with a crunch. You could use cabbage, bean sprouts, cucumbers, mushrooms, celery, carrots, greenbeans, whatever you want. I’d stay away from really juicy things like tomatoes tho. Pork, beef, chicken, shrimp, crab, whatever meat you like…fried silkworms, crunchy salty grasshoppers…ok not so easy to find in the USofA and not standard fare around here, at least not deliberately…but I have a Korean friend who swears by the fried silkworms. Seasoning is what you make of it as well. More or less fish sauce, more or less lime juice, or hot pepper, add soy sauce in you want. If you read how fish sauce is made over at the Import Foods website, and the idea of using it makes you skeevy, just use soy sauce. it won’t taste the same but if you’ve never had fish sauce you won’t know what you’re missing. However, if you have an ounce of adventure and an Asian market, get a $3 bottle of Squid fish sauce, it won’t go bad and and another amazing layer of flavor to anything Asian.

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