Thursday, June 30, 2016

This week's MENU recipe: Vietnamese Fried Rice Paper Spring Rolls - Cha gio

The rice paper pancakes we get here seem to be much thicker than those they use. Instead of dipping them in water, take a plate of about the same diameter and put on it a damp tea towel. You take the rice paper pancake and press it on the tea towel, turn over and repeat till it is soft enough to roll. It does not take long. These rolls are gluten free.

1 cup of cooked thin bean thread noodles, about 1 skein (You soak them in boiling water till soft, then drain well and cool) - 1 cup of grated red onion - 1 cup grated carrot - 1 cup finely sliced spring onion - 1 cup finely sliced mushrooms (wood ear fungus is best but any will do) 1 cup minced pork (or chopped prawns or a combination of both) - 2 cloves of garlic, chopped - 2 T Vietnamese fish sauce - 1 T sugar - 1/2 t salt - 1/2 t white pepper - 1 egg, beaten - canola oil for frying
Then the ingredients are mixed together very well. Try to keep the mixture as dry as possible. Some lazy cooks do the whole mixture in a food processor, just add the noodles at the end and mix well.
On a damp rice paper sheet put just one dessertspoon of the mixture about 5 cm from the top of the roll, then make one fold from the top to cover the filling. Shape into a small sausage. Then carefully fold the sides in and then slowly roll up and set aside on a dry plate. Seal the ends with a dab of beaten egg. Aim for rolls no thicker than 3 cm and 8 cm in length.
 Repeat till you have enough. 3 or 4 per guest as a starter is enough. Refrigerate for when you need to fry them but cover them with cling film or a damp towel to prevent them drying out and cracking. This should make about 20. You can leave out the meat and or the prawns for vegetarian rolls. Just add more vegetables like bean sprouts, or some crumbled tofu
In a wok, add the oil and heat . Do not crowd the pan, fry in batches, 5 or 6 at a time. You need the oil about 8 to 10 cm deep and fry the rolls twice, first at 160C, remove with a strainer, raise the temperature to 175 to 190C and fry again till golden brown. They are meant to bubble up on the skin. Serve with the dipping sauce. Sprinkle the plate with some fresh mint, basil, shiso and coriander. You can wrap the rolls in lettuce leaves to eat.
Dipping sauce - Nuoc cham
5 tablespoons sugar - 3/4 cup warm water - 1/4 cup plus 1 T Vietnamese fish sauce - 2 tablespoons rice vinegar - 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice - 2 chopped garlic cloves - 2 thinly sliced fresh red Thai

Dissolve the sugar in the warm water then add all the other ingredients. Serve in bowl suitable for dipping
© John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus 2016
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