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Saturday, January 19, 2013

Crispy Spring Rolls 香脆春卷

A street food that I have always loved as a kid, the idea to making these at home is one inspired by my mom-in-law. Probably something that is made easier naturally with skills and experiences, my mom-in-law sure had made the whole making process seem simple enough, one that is totally doable at home. That bit of memory and the little wrapping experience I have had with her was what started me with my first batch of homemade crispy spring rolls soon after I moved here. My first batch was the vegetarian version of spring rolls, pretty much a replica of hers. The idea of tweaking the filling along the way came later when I started getting more comfortable with the basic concept of making these spring rolls.

Made slightly different to include some meats this time around, this was a batch specially done when I had the impulsive idea of making and bringing hubby and his colleagues some finger food as the working week was coming to a close yesterday. I would personally think that this is more of a Malaysian version of spring rolls to have included the jicama, mushrooms and dried shrimps especially. This being a different version from the usual popular Chinese spring rolls here in the States, I was indeed a little concerned if hubby's colleagues would find these acceptable. Lets just say that my worry was proven unwarranted in the end lol.

Some personal notes:
  • A well drained filling makes a good filling. Make sure that they are cooled completely before being wrapped. Any excess moisture uncared for makes soggy spring rolls, some leaky ones even.
  • Once the spring roll wrappers packaging is opened, they dry out almost instantaneously. That makes them a lot less pliable and wrapping almost impossible. Be sure to cover the wraps with a damp cloth whenever they are not in use. That maintains their freshness at their best.
  • Likewise, readily wrapped spring rolls will have to be covered and protected from drying out prior to frying. Try to leave some gap in between each roll separating them. Leaving them in contact will make them adhere to one another over time and separating them will not be easy. If you have to stack them up, separate the layers with a piece of parchment paper or plastic wrap until frying time.
  • Wrap the rolls neat and tight. So less is more in this case! 2 tbsps of fillings in a roll seems to fit just well. That makes sure that the roll stands no chance to leak either as it gets filled or fried later. Plus your guests will get to eat elegantly! lol.

Crispy Spring Rolls 香脆春卷
Makes 20-25 rolls
25 pcs 8"x8" spring roll wrappers (I used Spring Home brand)
enough cooking oil for deep frying

Ground pork
1/2lb ground pork
a few dashes of white pepper powder
2 tsps light soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil   

1 tsp corn flour
3 cloves garlic 
1/2 tbsp cooking oil
Mushrooms with dried shrimps
4 tbsps dried shrimps, rinsed and soaked to soften then chopped
7 fresh shiitake mushrooms (stalks removed), thinly sliced (alternatively you can use dried mushrooms rinsed and soaked to soften then sliced thinly)
1 tsp light soy sauce
a pinch of sugar
3 tbsps cooking oil 

1½lbs jicama, peeled and shredded
1½ medium sized carrots, julienned
1½ cup bean sprouts, ends trimmed, rinsed and drained
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup water
2 tbsps light soy sauce
1 tsp white pepper powder 
a few pinches of salt and some a dash or two extra white pepper powder for seasoning
1/2 tbsp cooking oil

Corn starch solution (for sealing the roll)
1/2 tbsp corn starch dissolved in 2 tbsps cold water  

shiitake mushrooms, dried shrimps, garlic, ground pork, jicama, carrot and bean sprouts

Ground pork
1. Have the pork marinated with the white pepper powder, light soy sauce, sesame oil and corn starch slightly in advance. Leave refrigerated until cooking time.
2. To stir fry the pork, bring the cooking oil to heat in a wok. When well heated, add in the minced garlic and stir fry until fragrant. Bring in the marinated meat next. Stir-fry until the color changes, breaking into smaller pieces in the process. Remove from heat and set aside.

Mushrooms with dried shrimps
3. In the same wok, bring 3 tbsps of cooking oil to heat. Once well heated, add in the dried shrimps and let fry. Keep stirring regularly to make sure that they brown evenly. Once they appear to be golden brown on the whole, push them to one side of the skillet to make room for the mushrooms.
4. Add in the mushrooms followed by the light soy sauce and sugar. Mix well before tossing with the dried shrimps. Keep stirring until the mushrooms soften. Remove from heat and set aside in a bowl.

5. Bring another 1/2 tbsp of cooking oil to heat. Add in the minced garlic and stir fry until aromatic. Bring in the jicama and mix well. Add in 1/4 cup of water, give a good stir, and cover. Turn the heat down to medium and let simmer for about 8 minutes. Stir once in between the simmering time. At the end of it, the jicama should have softened considerably, looking translucent but retaining its crunch still. Add in 2 tbsps of light soy sauce and about a tsp of white pepper powder. Stir, cover and let simmer for another minute.
6. Add in the carrots with a pinch of salt. Stir, cover and let simmer for about 30 seconds.
7. Add in the bean sprouts next together with a pinch of salt and a dash or two of white pepper powder. Stir, cover and let simmer for a minute.

The filling
8. Bring the ground pork, dried shrimps and mushrooms back into the wok. Stir to mix everything well.
9. Transfer the filling into a stainless steel steamer bucket placed over a bowl to collect the filling juice that drains out. Or strain and rest the filling over a large strainer set on a deep bowl. Alternatively, you can spread the filling out on a large baking sheet and tilt it lightly on one end to let the moisture drain to the other end. Let cool completely. Discard all the accumulated juices at the end of it.    

10. Place a wrapper with one of the edges facing you. Spoon and squeeze about 2 tbsps of filling with a fork to further get rid of any remaining moisture. Line the filling horizontally about 1" from the bottom edge.
11. Lift the bottom edge up covering the filling. Tighten the wrapper around the filling and roll tightly up to the center.
12. Fold in right and then the left sides towards the center neatly. Again try to tighten the wrapper encasing the filling nice and neat. At this point you will want to make sure that the sides to the remaining top corner are nicely aligned in parallels.
13. Continue folding and tightening until the sides are all secured leaving the final top edge triangle.
14. Lightly brush the sides to the corner with the corn starch solution using your finger.
15. Roll up and make the seal, nice and clean. Set the spring roll aside and cover with a damp cloth. Repeat with the rest.

16. To fry, heat a wok on high heat with enough cooking oil for deep frying. Make sure that the oil is well heated before starting. Have it tested with a wooden chopstick. If the oil is ready, a stream of tiny bubbles will be seen when one end of the chopstick is dipped into the hot oil. 
17. Working in batches of 5 or 6, bring the spring rolls to fry. Turn regularly to make sure that they brown evenly. When done, carefully remove the spring rolls from the wok, drain the oil and let cool on a cooling rack. Transfer to a serving dish. Serve as it is or with the Thai sweet chili sauce on the side.  

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