The Spring Roll

You go to a party, they bring out the hors d’ouvres – and oh but those spring rolls smell so good! Sorry, you can’t have one – they’re poison to you!
Well… I got the craving, and I got it good. So I gave it a whirl. The first attempt was a few months ago, and though they turned out tasty, I had tried to deep fry them, and then pan fry them, and they ended up way too greasy. Fast forward to last week, and I had forgotten what I’d put in them! So I decided to wing it again. And I winged it real good.

I started by searching online for a decent recipe – good luck with that. (Although now you could search and find mine! Yes!!) Since I didn’t find what I wanted, I took a bit of this one and a bit of that one, and the fantastic idea to try baking them…and it filled the craving perfectly.

Note: This amount of ingredients made a LOT of filling. I ended up putting about 2/3 of it in the freezer. You may want to cut the recipe in half, which would probably still serve 2 people dinner easily. I just started out by dumping the pork into the pan, and in hindsight, probably should’ve halved it first!

Ingredients:
1 lb (500g) ground pork
2 tsp minced ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups shredded green cabbage
2 cups bean sprouts
2 carrots, shredded or grated
2 green onions, sliced
1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp Chinese 5 Spice
1 tsp garlic chili sauce (optional)
1/4 tsp cilantro paste (I buy this in a tube. It’s equivalent of 1/4 tsp fresh chopped)
1 tbsp gluten free soy sauce (I use Bragg’s Soy Seasoning – Liquid Aminos if you’re American)
ground black pepper

Round Rice paper wraps
Several tablespoons vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Fry the pork in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add the minced garlic & ginger. Fry until pork is fully browned. If your pork isn’t very lean, feel free to drain it. Throw in the bean sprouts and cabbage. Stir well. I like my veggies quite soft for spring rolls, so I cooked these quite awhile. Add the carrots, onions, cilantro, sesame oil, chili sauce, Chinese 5 Spice, and soy sauce. Stir well, and allow to cook for another minute or two to blend flavors. Add pepper if desired. Turn off heat and allow to cool a bit.

All the delicious things! And yes that's my pasta server. Don't laugh - it worked!

All the delicious things! And yes that’s my pasta server. Don’t laugh – it worked!

Now for the rice wrappers. There are several methods to “cooking” these – the package I have suggests layering them with wrung-out paper towels. For some reason, I get the heebie-jeebies when I think of soaking my food in wet paper towels – who knows where they’ve been or how dusty the paper towel factory is. (I’d imagine quite dusty, what with all the paper fibers floating around!)

Anyway. This is my method. Use your own if you have one! And share with me in the comments – I’m always willing to learn new tricks!

Find a frying pan just slightly bigger than the round rice paper wraps. Fill it with the hottest water that will come out of your tap (but don’t burn yourself!). You only need a half inch (1 cm) or so. Take a single wrapper, dip it into the water, and make sure it submerges. Wait a couple of seconds and pull it out, letting the excess water run back into the pan. At this point it may still be slightly stiff.

Submerge the wrap fully!

Submerge the wrap fully!

Allow the water to drain off.

Allow the water to drain off.

Place the rice wrap on a plate, and scoop a spoonful of the filling onto the middle of the wrapper.
Fold up the bottom, fold in the sides, and roll the rest of the way closed. (For more photos of this method, see my next post – Summer Rolls!)

Put a few tablespoons of vegetable oil in a bowl. Brush the spring roll with oil and place on a cookie sheet.

Repeat. Over and over.

Neat little packages, all in a row...

Neat little packages, all in a row…

Don’t use too much filling, or you’ll have trouble closing it up. In fact, the ones with less filling turned out better in my opinion – there was more nice chewy wrap involved, and they browned a little nicer in the oven.

Anyway. Back to the wraps. By now you should have a cookie sheet full of lovely little packages. Poke them in the oven for 10 minutes. Take them out and VERRRRYYYY CAREFULLY turn them over. This is also where the littler ones came out ahead – my bigger ones split open on me! (Not devastating – they still tasted good! But much harder to eat!)

Yeah - those are the two that didn't make it.

Yeah – those are the two that didn’t make it.

Put them back in the oven for another 10 minutes. And you’re done!

Ooooh...lightly fried-like, browned and tasty!

Ooooh…lightly fried-like, browned and tasty!

I like mine with a little bowl of gluten free soy sauce to dip into. You might like plum sauce, thai chili sauce, or who knows, maybe even ketchup. The world is your oyster! (I don’t recommend the ketchup.) I’ll also admit to this being my whole meal, instead of just an appetizer. Your choice!

Next time, I might also include some rice vermicelli, but I really don’t think they needed the extra noodles – the bean sprouts & cabbage act out that role fairly well.

Enjoy!

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