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Big Daddy's Crunchy Spring Rolls

Many Americans are confused as to the difference between "spring" rolls, and "egg" rolls.  I know I was before researching the subject.  Spring rolls are traditionally served during celebrations of the Chinese New Year.  New year is celebrated later in China than it is in the west, coinciding more closely with spring - hence the name.  An egg roll is a variation on the traditional spring roll and is made by dipping the rolls in egg just before frying.

Timing is the key to successfully preparing America's favorite oriental appetizer. The rolls can't sit for too long before they are fried, an hour at most, so plan accordingly.   These wonderfully crunchy delights are a lot of work, but not really that hard. This recipe makes enough filling for 12-16 rolls, depending on how much filling you use.

1 package   spring roll pastry (see note)
pound   pork or chicken -- ground or shredded
1 tablespoons   peanut oil
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 cup roughly chopped bean sprouts
2 cups   Chinese cabbage -- shredded
1 cups cooked, chopped bean thread or thin rice noodles
cup   carrot -- shredded (about one large carrot)
cup   scallion greens -- diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
oil for frying

Preparation

Blanch the shredded cabbage in boiling water for 30 seconds and immediately cool down with cool, fresh water.

Cook the noodles according to package directions, leaving them al dente (a bit chewy).

If making chicken spring rolls, simmer the chicken in water until done, about 20 minutes.  Allow to cool and then pull into shreds.

If making pork spring rolls brown the ground pork, adding a little salt and pepper, drain completely and allow to cool.

Stir Frying

Heat the wok over medium high heat until a bead of water evaporates immediately on contact. Add the peanut and sesame oil and swirl around in the wok. The oil is ready when a shred of veggie sizzles when dropped in. Add all veggies along with the garlic and ginger and immediately toss to mix and coat. Continue stir frying for about 2 to 3 minutes, tossing frequently, until the cabbage has become tender.  Add in the noodles and meat and allow everything to heat through, about 30 seconds.  Finally add the sauces and toss all to combine.

Set aside to cool completely.  If you wish to do this in two steps, simply place the filling in the fridge until ready to build the spring rolls.

Building the Spring Rolls

Carefully peel one of the square wrappers from the stack and place on the work surface in front of you so that it appears as a baseball diamond with you sitting behind home plate. Scoop up 2-3 tablespoons of filling and pile it on the wrapper running horizontally just below the pitcher's mound ;^)

On your diamond the filling should be about 4" wide and 1" deep. There should be about 1" between the edge of the filling and the edge of the wrapper. Take the bottom corner of the "diamond" and fold it up and over the pile of filling. Roll the pile of filling forward 1/2 turn. Brush the surface of the pile of filling with egg wash and fold in each corner of the wrapper (at first and third base) over the pile of filling. Roll forward until about 1-1/2 inches of wrapper up at 2nd base remain. With your finger or a pastry brush, paint the wrapper at 2nd base with water or beaten egg and finish rolling (this helps bind the wrapper and prevents it from coming apart in the wok. Set finished spring roll on a plate, seam down, under damp paper towels until ready to fry (one hour maximum.)

Heat the oil for frying in a wok or other heavy pot to 350 degrees. Because of their density the spring rolls will quickly cool the oil. This is okay as long as the initial temperature is at least 350 degrees so always allow the oil to come back to temperature before adding the next batch. To prevent the oil from cooling too much don't crowd the cooker with too many of the spring rolls at once, 3-4 at a time will do.

Fry in oil for about two minutes all together, turning if not completely submerged - until they are a golden brown.

Notes:

  1. The spring rolls should not be prepared more than one hour before cooking, otherwise the wrappers will begin to turn soggy.
  2. You can try and find the imported spring roll pastry as they are far superior to the standard supermarket brands. You will probably need to find an Asian specialty market or order them on-line, . I use "Spring Home" imported from Singapore and very reasonably priced. They are 8" square.  If this is inconvenient then use the packaged egg roll wrappers found in the supermarket, usually in the produce area.

 

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