Being celiac I miss the ease or ordering take out, things are better now but I am still limited in what I can order and where I can order from. There are certain things I really miss that I have resigned myself to never being able to order again and one of them is a crisply deep fried spring roll, preferable dunked in the luminous orange sweet and sour sauce that is the dipping sauce of choice for many Chinese take away customers in Ireland.
I have tried quite a few recipes from the absolutely gorgeous Alastair Hendy book Asia and some of them have become firm favourites already but I have shied away for the recipe for rice paper spring rolls as I have tried to make spring rolls with rice paper in the past, as has my sister who is a much better cook than me and the results haven’t been great. The rice paper rolls tended to split or just explode so you are left with a pan full of deep fried filling. But his looked so pretty (mine are not so pretty, be warned) and I had a hankering for something deep fried and tasty last weekend so I decided to try again.
I love cooking from this book as the ingredients are always so colourful, aromatic and flavourful, that the cooking itself is a pleasure.
This is a very simple recipe but constructing the rolls will take a bit of time so when you have everything prepped to go I would advise you to put on some music and take your time putting the rolls together.
12 / 16 rice paper sheets
Fragrant herbs and salad leaves to serve
25 grams of dried rice vermicelli
300 grams of minced pork (or you can use prawns)
3 small shallots, peeled and finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, peeled and finely chopped or crushed
4 spring onions, finely sliced
½ of a medium sized carrot, peeled and grated
One good sized handful of bean sprouts, chopped
2 tablespoons of fish sauce
Pinch of caster sugar
Salt and pepper
The white of 1 small egg
- Submerge the rice noodles in warm water until they have softened, then drain and coarsely chop
- Blanch the beansprouts in hot water for a minute, then drain.
- Combine all the ingredients for the filling and mix thoroughly
Making the Rolls
Set up a rolling station with a bowl of warm water, your filling a plate to roll on and a plate for the finished rolls. Use a big plate to hold the rolls as they will stick to each other, allow them a bit of space.
Briefly dip the rice paper sheet in the warm water and place on your rolling plate.
- When the sheet has softened fold down one side, about a an inch towards the centre of the sheet.
- Place about two teaspoons of the filling on top of this folded section and then bring in each side of the sheet, do not pull the sides in two tightly or the roll may spilt when frying.
- Roll from the top, where the filling is towards the bottom of the sheet, again don’t make the roll too tight. Place the finished roll, seam side down on yourplate and start on the next roll.
- Heat 4cm of oil in a deep pan, if you have a deep fryer you can use this. Use at least 4 cm of oil otherwise the rolls will stick to the bottom of the pan. There was no temperature guide given in the cook book but some googling suggested a temp of 365F on a sugar / oil thermometer.
- Place the rolls in the pan, do not overcrowd the pan. I cooked four to five at a time.
- Allow the rolls to fry for at least three minutes before attempting to turn then, other wise they may stick or split, I found the best way of turning them was to nudge them gently with some chop sticks and then they just bounced over to the uncooked side.
- Cook for a further three minutes and then take one out and cut it open to see if the filling has cooked through. My rolls took an average of 6 minutes to cook through.
- Drain the rolls on some kitchen paper and continue with the next batch.
- Serve the rolls with your dipping sauce of choice and some herbs, coriander would be good, wrapped in some crisp green salad leaves.
The rolls will not look exactly like spring rolls as you know them and mine were not the prettiest but they were crisp, very tasty and were definitely exactly what I was craving last weekend!