Falling (Vietnamese Eggrolls)
Hmmm, all around us the leaves are falling... and soon there will be no more. I'm glad the grounds keepers have been slow to gather up the leaves just yet... it gives us a few more moments to, quite literally, embrace the sun's warm gifts.
El and Lil had a fun time throwing leaves around... and even Coco met a few other dogs for some sniffing and doggy gossiping.
We've been given a wonderful treat by Mother Nature the last week - above average warm temperatures and clear skies! This weekend, all of this much needed Vitamin D from the sun gave me motivation to make a big batch of egg rolls.
Egg rolls are the quintessential Vietnamese party food. Each and every occasion is the right time to put out a platter of freshly made egg rolls. They are so easy to eat, enjoyed by everyone... "I'm really not in the mood for egg rolls" said no one ever! And, they're like Lay's potato chips... you can't eat just one!!!
But, they are time consuming to make... it's better to roll these babies with someone else... but, if you're one who likes to actively meditate... then go it alone, like I did!
Vietnamese Egg Rolls
* adapted from Christine Ha's Mama's Egg Rolls
* makes about 100 small egg rolls
- 4 oz dried wood ear mushrooms
- 3 oz dried bean thread noodles
- 1 kg mixed ground pork and beef
- 400 g shrimp, peeled and minced
- 1 medium yellow onion, minced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 shallots, minced
- 1 large carrot, grated
- 1/4 C fish sauce
- 2 large eggs
- freshly ground black pepper
- Filipino egg roll wrapers
- rice paper wrappers
- 1 egg, beaten
- peanut or canola oil
1. Soak the wood ear mushrooms in hot water for a few minutes. Once they are tender, finely chop them up with a knife or throw them into a mini food chopper (as I did).
2. Soak the bean thread noodles in hot water for a few minutes. Once tender, give them a whizz in the food chopper to get them roughly chopped - strands will be about 1-2 inches... or chop them by hand for the same effect.
3. Into a large bowl, add all of the ingredients (ground, shrimp, aromatics, carrot, fish sauce, and eggs) and mix by hand until uniform consistency. At this point, take a spoonful of the filling and fry up a test patty in a small frying pan. This is a good step to take now to check how the filling will taste after cooking... you don't want to roll a ton only to find out upon serving that the egg rolls are too bland or too salty!
4. For the Filipino wrappers, you will need the beaten egg. I found only the large size wrapper (approximately 10"x10") so I decided to cut them in half on the diagonal. Worked out just fine.
Lay each triangular wrapper onto a plate with the long edge facing away from you, pointy edge towards you. Take a spoonful of filling and create a 3" long x 1/2" diameter log centered across the top edge. Keep the diameter of the filling somewhat narrow - this helps ensure quick and fully cooked rolls! Fold the left side over, then the right side. Then, carefully and tightly roll the fold and the filling down. Use your finger and wet the corner with the egg mixture. This is the glue that will keep your egg roll from unravelling in the hot oil. So, don't forget this step!
Note: this type of rice paper egg roll can be made up to a few hours in advance. I waited about a half hour before frying mine. You will notice that right after you roll one, the egg roll will be very wet. You don't want to throw that wet bomb into a pot of hot oil right now. Give it some time to rest and absorb all of the extra water.
Unfortunately, you can not pre-freeze the rice paper rolls.
7. Pour about two inches of oil into a heavy-bottom pan. Heat the oil to 350 degrees F and deep fry in batches of 3-4 rolls until golden brown and crisp. Don't over crowd the pan or the rolls (especially the rice paper rolls) will stick together.
I made both versions of the egg rolls this time around... partly because I didn't buy enough Filipino wrappers. But, I remembered the rice paper versions and thus, made a big batch of those, too!
I fried the rice paper rolls first. Right at first, big air pockets bubble up around the rolls and the egg rolls will gravitate towards one another and want to stick to each other. Keep them apart until they get nice and crispy on the outside. The color will still be white-ish. Give it a few minutes at medium high heat to achive a tanner color. You do not want these to be a dark brown color... they will have a slightly burnt taste (take it from me!).
Make sure the temperature hits around 350 degrees F. If you start frying them at a lower temperature, they will never get that brownish tint.
I fried the Filipino wrapper ones last and they were finished in a flash.
Tastewise, the rice paper rolls were crisp on the outside and chewy/softish on the inside. A bit sticky on the teeth when chewing, too. I've had this version at many a restaurant and at home and I never experienced them this soft and chewy on the inside. Maybe I wet the wrappers too long? Maybe it was the brand? I'm not sure...
The Filipino wrapper eggrolls were crispy throughout. I prefer these because these are what I've grown up with at home... and, I can freeze a ton for later... because if you're gonna sit down and make egg rolls, you might as well make a lot to share... or not. :D
El & Lil definately favored the Filipino version. And the husband? Well, he loved them both because to him, it's the delicious filling that's the most important bit!
Serving wise, my mother would probably shake her disapproving head at me. We are pretty minimalist in our house. The girls eat them plain without any sauce. I served slice cucumbers along side the egg rolls. My husband loves the Thai chili sweet and sour sauce as a condiment. I should have made a batch of Nuoc Mam to go with the egg rolls... but I was out of fish sauce... and took the lazy way out. Thai chili sweet and sour sauce, it is!
If you have any leftovers, toss them into the oven to get them back to their old crispy selves!
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While you're rolling away, here's a few ladies who know a thing or two about 'Falling':