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Spring rolls

There was a whole lot of new for me in this dish. I had never before made spring rolls, and I used two ingredients I had never cooked with before: fish sauce and daikon (dai-what?! It's an East Asian radish). After reading various recipes and watching some You Tube vids on how to make spring rolls, I decided to head to Chinatown on Saturday in search of ingredients. I strolled with my 3-month old son in the baby carrier beneath the soft pink cherry blossoms and Chinese lanterns, enjoying the bustling activity of the shops and food markets.

I played with different ideas in my head while I shopped and eventually settled on a pork and vegetable filling. 

Here's how I made them:

1 lb lean ground pork
1 egg
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
2 green onions, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tbsp fish sauce
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
1/2 cup carrots, julienned
1/2 cup snow peas, julienned
1/2 cup daikon, julienned
3/4 cup rice vermicelli
25 6-inch rice wrappers
2 cups vegetable oil

In a large mixing bowl, I combined the first seven ingredients and set it aside. The rice vermicelli was softened in a bowl of warm water for 10 minutes, then drained and rinsed under cold water. Then I set up a work area with my ingredients in individual bowls (pork mixture, rice vermicelli, carrots, snow peas, and daikon), a large bowl of warm water, and a work surface for rolling.

To assemble each spring roll, I dipped a rice wrapper in the bowl of warm water for about 10 seconds to soften it and laid it out flat on my work surface. Next, I spooned about a tablespoon or two of the pork mixture in the middle of the bottom half of the wrapper and topped it with a small amount each of the rice vermicelli and the three vegetables. Then I rolled the bottom of the wrapper over the filling to make one complete roll, followed by folding in the sides, then continued to roll upwards. I placed the spring rolls on a plate in a single layer until I was finished assembling.

To cook them, the oil was heated in a wok over medium heat. This part freaked me out because I have little experience with deep frying and both my kids were with me in the kitchen, so I had to pace myself! I did a few spring rolls at a time in the oil for about 4-5 minutes cooking time, rotating half way through, until they were lightly browned. I transfered them to a plate lined with paper towel to drain. I ended up with 25 spring rolls and served them with a sui choy salad. Seriously yummy!

Spring rolls take quite a while to prepare, assemble, and cook. So they're not something I would make on a week night, but rather at a time when someone is around to help me with the kids. With all the work that went into these I've learned take out is worth every penny!

Are Asian style dishes part of your repertoire? 
Have you been trying any new ingredients? How do you get cooking done with the kids around?!