You know what Asian restaurants are really good at making? Two things--Asian food and doughnuts. Here in Texas (and back in California) we have real doughnut shops on every corner. So I've grown to be picky, and these absolutely do not compare to grocery store doughnuts! And the Asian food...MAN do they make some good fried rice, egg drop soup, crab rangoons, and pork spring rolls!
There's a lot of food that I love to fry, and I feel like I fry more food than most. People complain of it stinking up their house, but I've never really understood that. Who doesn't love fried food smell? Guys! Open a window and it goes away in an hour! If you do it right, the food doesn't soak up that much oil, and even if it does, use healthy oil (avocado, canola) and it's not a big deal. So, to fry correctly, the oil has to be HOT. If it's not hot enough, the food has to sit in there longer and that's when it soaks up too much oil. The temperature will lower after the food is added, so keep it HOT.
Spring Roll Wrappers
I knew I wanted to try frying my own spring rolls at home, I just needed to find the right wrapper. I didn't want egg roll wrappers, I wanted the shatteringly-thin crisp spring roll dough. This took some time and lots of research, but I FOUND IT--at a specialty Asian grocery store: frozen spring roll pastry sheets. Then I actually picked up quite a few other items that normal grocery stores don't carry, so it was a win-win.
The filling in these pork spring rolls is really simple. I tried umami paste for the first time, and it is just what it sounds like--an intangible depth of flavor that is just delicious. Umami paste is a combination of ingredients that are high in glutamates like anchovies, olives, tomato paste, parmesan. As long as you add just the right amount, it adds a depth of flavor than enhances what's already in there. I promise your dish won't taste like any of the ingredients! The veggies have some bite, the juicy pork gives great flavor, and there's plenty of garlic and ginger to go around. You could easily make these vegetarian, or throw in some different veggies, it's really difficult to mess these up.
I love sweet chili sauce as a dip for spring rolls. Also try soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, whatever suits your fancy. Finally, whip up a batch of egg drop soup and have some homemade takeout!
Pork Spring Rolls
- 2 Tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- ½ lb ground pork
- 5 oz. matchstick carrots
- ¼ purple cabbage thinly sliced, about 2 c
- ½ Tablespoon umami paste
- 1 Tablespoon garlic
- ½ Tablespoon ginger paste or freshly-grated ginger
- 7 oz. bean sprouts ½ can, or can use fresh
- 3 green onions sliced
- 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
- package of frozen spring roll pastries I used Kimbo brand (comes with 28 sheets)
- Set spring roll pastries out to thaw.
- Heat oil in large frying pan. Add pork, carrots, cabbage, umami paste, garlic, ginger, and bean sprouts. Fry about 10 minutes, or until pork is cooked and veggies have slightly softened. Add green onions, remove from heat.
- Spread filling out on large pan or other surface to cool to room temperature--can place in refrigerator.
- Once cooled, mix cornstarch with 1 T water in a small bowl. Carefully peel pastry sheet away from package and lay out flat in a diamond orientation. Keep remaining stack of pastry sheets covered with a damp towel or they'll dry out and be unusable.
- Place about 2 T filling on lower third of diamond, then begin to roll tightly upward toward the middle of the diamond. Once you reach the middle, fold edges at a 90 degree angle inward. Dip your finger in the cornstarch slurry and run it along the remaining unfolded edges of the diamond--this is to help seal the edges. Continue to roll upward until you've finished rolling the spring roll. Set aside and roll remaining spring rolls until all have been rolled.
- Depending on how quickly you work, you may want to begin heating your frying oil when you're about halfway done rolling the spring rolls so that it is hot and ready to go when you're done rolling. Pour enough oil to cover pan about 1 ½ inches deep. Oil is hot enough to fry when water flicked in immediately sizzles, about 375 degrees.
- Drop about 5 rolls in hot oil, careful not to crowd pan. Flip when bottom half is light brown, about 2-3 minutes each side. Remove and lay on paper towel-lined plate. Fry second batch.
- Serve with sweet chili sauce, soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, or enjoy plain.