From Keo's Thai Cuisine, by Keo Sananikone. I mentioned the Spring Rolls in this post earlier today. Here's my version – slightly different but basically the same. Mine are larger – like egg roll size – and the actual version has them smaller – little bite sized appetizers.
These are the ingredients:
1/2 lb fresh ground pork
1/2 lb shrimp, chopped
10 dried Chinese black mushrooms (available in Asian markets and some grocery stores)
1 ounce bean threads (avail. in Asian markets and some grocery stores)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, shredded
1/4 lb bean sprouts
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup lukewarm water
14-16 rice papers – round ones, medium size (about 8" in diameter) (found in Asian markets in greater variety – sometimes in grocery stores. They're used for spring rolls and nime chow, among other things.)
6 cups oil for deep frying
Got all that?
Place the dried mushrooms in warm water for 20 minutes to rehydrate. Remove the stems and dice up the caps.
Soak the bean threads in warm water for 20 minutes as well. Drain, and then cut them into roughly 1-inch lengths.
Place the shrimp and pork in a large bowl. Add mushrooms and bean threads once rehydrated and chopped up. Add onion, carrot, bean sprouts, black pepper and fish sauce. Mix well and let stand for fifteen minutes or so.
Place the teaspoon of sugar in the cup of lukewarm water to dissolve, then pour into a shallow pan wide enough for the rice paper to lay flat in it. I used a small frying pan.
This is what the rice paper looks like when dry –
They're brittle and they crack easily.
Once you've got the sugar and water in a pan, place one of the pieces of rice paper in and submerge it.
Let it sit for a few seconds, then remove it and place on a plate or other dry work surface. Give it a minute or so to allow the rice paper to absorb the moisture.
Place some of the pork/shrimp mixture on the rice paper, like so:
Actually, this is a bad picture – the mixture should be closer to the edge of the rice paper, so mentally move this mixture closer to the bottom of the picture. Now, fold up the bottom edge over the mixture, then fold over the right side and the left side – it's like making burritos and things like that – and then roll tightly to seal.
Continue until you've used up the pork/shrimp mixture. When you're about halfway through the whole process, put the 6 cups of oil in a deep pot and set on a medium high flame. If you've got a candy thermometer, attach it to the pan and keep an eye on the temperature. You want to heat the oil to 375 degrees F.
Once you've got all the spring rolls made, assemble them and a few other things near the stove so you'll be all ready once the oil reaches temperature. You'll need a large slotted spoon, two plates with several layers of paper towels, and the spring rolls and tongs. Keep everything close by so you aren't dripping hot oil all over the place.
Once the oil is hot, carefully lower 4 of the spring rolls into the oil. Don't splash them – the best way is to place one end in and lay the rest of the roll in gently. Because of all the water in them, these will bubble up and make a lot of noise for a little while. It's kind of fun.
Roll them over so they brown evenly. This might be kind of difficult, as air pockets form inside the rolled rice paper and the rolls will stubbornly roll right back the way they were after you flip them so the pale side is down. Don't give up. Worse comes to worst, you can just hold them submerged in the oil until they cook evenly, but I don't like doing that because they seem to soak up too much oil that way. It may take some trial and error. But that's part of the adventure.
When they're golden brown, remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and drain excess oil into the pan before placing them on one of the plates with the paper towel layers.
Let them cool a bit and then slice one in half, just to make sure everything is cooked through. Let it cool a bit more, and have a taste. You've earned it.
Let the oil temperature come back up (if necessary) and then place 4-5 more rolls in and continue frying in batches until they're all done. If necessary, keep warm in a low oven or a warming drawer until it's time to serve them.
The book suggests a Spring roll sauce, but this is the one we made –
1 cup hot water
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 T lime juice
1 T white vinegar
1 T fish sauce
Dissolve the sugar and salt in the hot water.
Combine with remaining ingredients.
And that's that. The tighter you can roll them the better they fry – the loose ones tend to have bigger air bubbles.
And you don't have to use that sauce – you can use a hot sauce, soy sauce, whatever you want. I used some of the green curry sauce that we had with the chicken at that same meal.
Give it a try – frying's fun!