Vietnamese Spring Rolls

Dinner for one tonight.  Every now and then my family has plans in the evening and we don’t to eat together.  That’s when I consider making something to eat that I know I enjoy but others, not so much.

Tonight, no TV, no phone, no distractions.  Just me, a knife, a cutting board and some fresh food.  This was 30 minutes of pure joy and relaxation, which is exactly what I needed after a day of the chaos of my work day!

There’s something eerie about Vietnamese spring rolls.  The translucent quality of the wraps appeals to me in a strange way.  The texture is a little gummy and stretchy, which again, can be challenging.  I remember being hesitant when I was introduced to them but, once I had one, I was hooked.

These are REAL spring rolls!  Just one bite invokes thoughts of spring and summer.  These aren’t the little fried doo-dads that you get from a Chinese restaurant.  These are full of big, bright flavors and they have an elegance that fried spring rolls can’t deliver.

I used ingredients that I had on hand.  I wasn’t about to make a trip to the store to find Thai basil.  Any sort of crunchy green, leafy vegetables are perfect.

Ingredients:

½ cup shredded cabbage

¾ cup Romaine lettuce, thinly sliced

1 green onion, sliced

¼ cup fresh basil

8 to 10 medium sized shrimp, boiled

4 spring roll wraps

3 Tbs Hoisin sauce

2 Tbs Sriracha sauce (use less, if you like but make don’t omit!)

1 Tbs soy sauce

Directions:

Chop and slice the vegetables.  Set aside

In a small bowl, mix the Hoisin sauce, Sriracha and soy sauce.  Set aside.

Slice the shrimp in half, lengthwise and parboil.  I added the shrimp to a small amount of boiling water and removed the shrimp after one minute.

Chill the shrimp in the freezer for a few minutes.

Prepare the spring rolls by dipping the wraps in a plate filled with water.  Once the wrap becomes pliable, remove it to a work surface and add the fillings.  Wrap by folding over the edges and rolling from bottom to top, just like folding a burrito.

Serve with the dipping sauce.

Serve with Vietnamese iced coffee, if you have the time to prepare.  Otherwise, a nice crisp, refreshing beer will suffice.

Asian Spring Rolls

I intended to use ground chicken for the spring rolls but all I could find at the store was ground turkey so, here we go.  I suppose this could be an opening act for a Thanksgiving dinner or maybe an appetizer served during a football game.  It’s also a good way to use leftover turkey after Thanksgiving. 

Make sure to use spring roll wrappers, not egg roll wrappers. Spring roll wrappers are more dense and they are thinner than egg roll wrappers.

Ingredients:

1 Tbs soy sauce

1 green onion, chopped

1 garlic clove, smashed

1 tsp rice wine vinegar

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

1 tsp cornstarch

1 lb ground turkey

2 Tbs cooking oil divided

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

1 tsp fresh ginger, grated

1-2 stalks green onion, chopped

1/2 head of cabbage, about 8 ounces, shredded

2 carrots julienne cut

2 Tbs oyster sauce

50 frozen spring roll wrappers, defrosted

2 cups cooking oil

Cornstarch Slurry:

    1 Tbs cornstarch

    1/4 cup water

Dipping sauce:

1/2 tsp sesame oil

3 Tbs soy sauce

1 tsp Hoisin sauce

1 tsp Garlic Chili Paste

Instructions:

Prepare the Filling:

In a large bowl, combine the soy sauce, green onion, garlic, vinegar, pepper and cornstarch.  Add the ground turkey and mix well.  Marinate for at least 10 minutes.

Chop, mince and grate the various stir-fry vegetables. 

Heat a wok over high heat.  When hot, add 1 tablespoon of cooking oil. Add the turkey and stir-fry until browned.  Remove the browned turkey and set aside in a bowl.

Turn the heat down to medium.  Add a tablespoon of cooking oil.   Add the green onion, garlic and ginger and stir-fry for 30 seconds.  Add the carrots and cabbage.  Stir well and turn the heat up to medium-high.   Stir fry the vegetables for 2 minutes, or until the carrots have softened.  

Return the cooked turkey back to the wok and stir.  Add the oyster sauce and toss to coat. Turn the mixture out to a strainer and let liquids drain.   Wet ingredients don’t make good spring rolls!

Wrapping Spring Rolls:

Make a cornstarch slurry with cornstarch and water.  Open the spring roll wrapper package, peel the wrappers apart from each other and cover them with a moistened paper towel. 

Lay a wrapper on a clean surface.  Position the wrapper with a corner facing toward you .  Add about 1 tablespoon of filling to the bottom point of the wrapper.  Fold the left and right sides in toward the middle (the wrapper should look like an envelope). Starting from the bottom of the wrapper, roll upward and apply pressure with your fingers to prevent air pockets.  Dip a finger in the cornstarch slurry and paint the top corner of the wrapper.  Finish wrapping and secure the wrap by gently pressing along the seam.  Stage finished spring rolls on parchment paper, or wax paper and keep them covered with a damp paper towel.

Frying Spring Rolls

Add about 2 cups of oil to a wok and turn the heat to high.  The depth of the oil should be about 2 inches.  Once the oil is hot, carefully slide spring rolls into the oil, one at a time.  I fried about 8 spring rolls at a time, to avoid overcrowding. 

Turn the egg rolls over while the fry.  When they are golden brown and crispy, remove to a paper towel lined plate and keep warm.

Mix the dipping sauce ingredients together in a small bowl.

Arrange the spring rolls on a serving platter and place the dipping sauce in the middle of the platter.