Spring Rolls with Sooky
Every now and again when there is a free day at hand my eldest daughter, Sooky the Stylist, announces we’re going to make Spring Rolls.
The announcement always means we are not only going to make Spring Rolls but we are going to prepare trays and trays of a couple type of dumplings too, each with assorted fillings, then folded into different shapes before freezing for our later more impromptu use.
Fortunately, the notice always provides a one day advance plan in order to collect a broad range of fresh vegetables, pork, shrimp, chicken, and so on.
The day typically begins with me cleaning, chopping, and prepping vegetables until Sooky emerges to take on some of the other prep tasks. But before that happens, she carefully eyes the thus completed tasks, lifting and picking at each among the ingredients, excruciatingly inspecting with the careful hawk eye of something like a dragon queen, or some character out of an Amy Tan novel. Heh, heh, heh.
Following careful ingredient inspection the fun begins. Well almost. First, there must always be the obligatory squabble. What ingredients will go into what dumplings, what seasoning combinations we shall use? Then the discussion on the brand of dumpling wrappers, some being thicker, thinner, moister, drier, and, of course, why I don’t make homemade dumpling wrappers as I used to when she was little. The answer, time, age, convenience. And as for something like actually making homemade Spring Roll Wrappers, its the great luck of fortune I’ve never had a clue. I wonder does anyone, anywhere, hand make these? Hmm.
Then, there is discussion on how much sugar to put into the dipping sauce. Spring Roll preparation finally commences. The fun begins, chatting, laughing, and always creating good memories of these special times enjoying the magic of the moment together. The delicacy of the thin papery almost translucent wrappers, scents playing off of each other, colorful ingredients blending in flavor sensations, tightly encasing within each fold and roll motion before lining the towel covered tray accumulating the circular treasures beneath. We love homemade Spring Rolls.
One ingredient change Sooky and I decided on this time around was due to the questionable pollution matters currently surrounding seafood in parts of the world so we decided to forgo the more traditional tiny little shrimp and instead used other obtainable fresh shrimp peeled, de-veined, roasted, then coarsely chopped.
Less is more in the flavoring of Spring Rolls for the mixture placed onto the dumplings cannot be too wet or it will break through the tender wrapping.
Another important tip regarding moisture in the pork, shrimp, and vegetable combination is to dry well the the Asian vermicelli- bean threads before cutting into small pieces using kitchen scissors and adding into the combination. The noodles in their packaged state are crunchy and first need to be softened just covered with boiling water, and soaked a few minutes before draining. Drying the vermicelli may be accomplished using either a clean kitchen towel or paper towels.
To begin, simply lay your Spring Roll wrapper on a flat surface in a diamond shape. Fold the corner about an inch down just like the photo above. Place about a heaping tablespoon just above that folded corner.
Then begin rolling.
Tucking in your sides, its similar as if you were making a burrito.
When you fold the sides they will meet together like the photo above. Each step in the rolling needs to be firm so that the spring roll shape is tight, not floppy, but not so rough that the wrapper tears or the ingredients burst forth. This is how my grandson, the J-Dude, still learning, sometimes rolls them. It takes practice.
Once you’ve reached the end, simply brush on a bit of egg white for secure closure.
As you pay attention to the technique, slowly but surely you get the knack of it, and eventually the volume flow moves along in synchronized motion with beautiful spring rolls continuing to pile atop a long baking sheet covered with a towel to keep them from drying out.
And the J-Dude displays one full tray, including a few he’s rolled himself.
After freezing, covered with plastic wrap for forty-five minutes, those we plan to eat immediately get fried up in a deep fryer with peanut oil. Other batches are carefully wrapped and frozen for future use. We make the dipping sauce early on in the day, because once golden and out of the fryer, well, we are busy dipping and eating in these special moments of delight. Before the next task, onto the dumplings.
- 4 1/2 cups napa cabbage
- 1 cup shredded carrots
- 1/2 cup scallions, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 pound shrimp, peeled, deveined
- 1 pound ground pork, cooked, very lightly
- 4 1/2 ounces, approximately, Asian vermicelli (bean thread noodles)
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1/8 cup soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 1 t black pepper
- 1 egg plus 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten (remaining egg white used for brushing and sealing spring roll wrappers)
- 2-3 packages spring roll wrappers, kept covered with a cloth while using to prevent drying out
- Dipping Sauce:
- 5 tablespoons fish sauce
- 2-3 fresh limes, juiced, approximately 1/8 cup or a bit less
- 1-1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 1 red fresh hot chili pepper, seeded, chopped fine
- In a large size bowl combine the cabbage, carrots, scallions, and garlic
- Set dried vermicelli bean thread noodles into another bowl then pour over enough boiling water to cover, let noodles soak until softened, drain, dry well with paper towels, using kitchen shears cut the long noodle strands into small size pieces then stir into the vegetables
- Stir in the ground pork and chopped shrimp
- Pour the sugar over the mixture blending before adding in the rice wine vinegar, fish sauce, soy sauce, black pepper, sesame oil
- Mix in the 1 beaten egg plus one egg yolk, stir ingredients thoroughly together
- Sit one spring roll wrapper on a flat work space positioned like a diamond, fold down the corner closest to you about a half inch in, place a heaping tablespoon of the mixture at the top of the point, fold over then bring in the sides continuing to roll similar to a burrito, tightly tucking in the sides each roll, close the spring roll by brushing with a bit of egg white then set onto a long baking sheet keeping each completed roll covered with a cloth to prevent drying
- Do not overfill spring roll or add in extra liquid which will cause the wrapper to become soggy and break open.
- Continue filling and rolling the Spring Rolls until all the wrappers are used up, place filled baking sheet into the freezer around forty-five minutes before refrigerating and frying for use on the same day
- Deep fry spring rolls in peanut oil turning and cooking until golden brown on all sides, around five minutes, or longer, transfer fried spring rolls to a paper towel
- Serve alongside Dipping Sauce
- For Preparing the Dipping Sauce: Stir all ingredients together into a small bowl, refrigerate until serving
- Note: Spring rolls may be wrapped well and frozen for one month