Inspired by a trip to Vietnam, I serve these classic spring rolls alongside romaine lettuce leaves, fresh herbs, and bean sprouts. The rolls are enjoyed wrapped in the crisp lettuce, with torn herbs and sprouts added. Dipped in a refreshing sweet-tart dipping sauce, these spring rolls are additive.
You can find the wrappers in the freezer sections of food stores carrying Asian ingredients, such as Fairway Market. You’ll need to thaw the pastry before getting started, so plan accordingly.
■ 3/4 cup finely chopped shiitake mushrooms, about 4 ounces
■ 3/4 cup finely chopped carrot, 1-2 carrots
■ 1/3 cup finely chopped spring onions, about 6 onions
■ 5 oz raw prawns, deveined and shells removed, roughly chopped
■ 8 oz ground pork
■ 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt (or 1 tsp regular salt)
■ 1 tsp fresh ginger, finely grated or minced*
■ 1 tsp garlic, finely grated or minced*
■ 1 Tbsp fish sauce
■ 1/4 tsp granulated sugar
■ 1 package frozen spring roll pastry wrappers (8-inch square), thawed
■ Vegetable oil for deep-frying
*A microplane makes mincing garlic and ginger easy work.
■ Romaine lettuce hearts
■ Fresh cilantro
■ Fresh Thai basil
■ Fresh mint
■ Bean sprouts
In a medium bowl, combine the mushrooms, carrots, spring onions, chopped prawns, pork, salt, ginger, garlic, fish sauce, and sugar. Mix thoroughly with a spatula or your hands. Working with one wrapper at a time (cover the rest with a damp cloth), place a spring roll wrapper at an angle, like a diamond, with one point of the square facing you.
Place two tablespoons of the filling in the lower third of the wrapper, creating a log shape about 3.inches long and 1 inch wide. Brush the lower point of the wrapper with a bit of water. Fold thewrapper over the filling and press to adhere. Fold both sides of the wrapper to encase the filling, as pictured, then roll to create a tight log. Brush the top point of the wrapper with a bit of the water toseal. Repeat with the remaining filling and wrappers.
Pour about four inches of oil into a deep, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Heat the oil slowly until aninstant-read thermometer reads 350℉, or when a cube of bread dropped into the oil turns golden inone minute. (If the oil is too hot, the pastry will burn before the filling is cooked through.) Workingwith a few spring rolls at a time, carefully lower them into the oil, being mindful not to overcrowdthe pan, which would render them soggy rather than crisp. Rotate with tongs or a fork to brownevenly, about 4-5 minutes.
Place the cooked rolls on a paper towel to remove excess oil, then transfer to a low warm oven whilecooking the remaining spring rolls.
To serve: Wrap a warm spring roll in a crisp leaf of romaine lettuce. Garnish with fresh herbs andbean sprouts. Serve with nuac mam cham.
■ 1/2 cup water
■ 2 Tbsp sugar
■ 1/4 cup rice vinegar
■ 4 garlic cloves, finely minced
■ 1 Thai chili pepper, seeds removed and finely chopped
■ 2 Tbsp fish sauce
■ 2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
Place the water and sugar in a small saucepan and mix to combine. Bring to a boil to dissolve thesugar and set aside to cool. Add the remaining ingredients and mix to combine. Transfer to a cleanjar and store in the fridge for up to two weeks. *If using a pre-sweetened seasoned rice vinegar, reduce the amount of sugar to taste.
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